Being a freshman in college was an eye-opening experience, to say the least. From learning your way around your campus to figuring out how to balance your schedule, there was a lot to learn and time was not in my favor. As I approach my senior year of college, I think one of the greatest skills I have learned is how to work under pressure. Some of the pressure was self-inflicted(we’ll get into that later), but the others were just what comes with being a student in college.
Therefore, I have learned that no matter what you do in life, there’s always pressure. Pressure to be successful, pressure to get into your dream school, pressure to get your dream job, and the list goes on and on. But it’s not about the pressure, it’s how you handle the pressure that is most important. Here are four tips on how to perform under pressure:
- Don’t procrastinate
Some are born with it and some aren’t. I can definitely raise my hand and say I wasn’t born with it but I’m a work in progress. I have learned that procrastination can increase the amount of pressure, especially if you tend to push assignments back. Trust me, I have had many nights where I’ll leave a paper until the last minute and end up having to stay up all night to complete it. I definitely don’t recommend procrastinating.
You should try to replace procrastination with discipline. I say that because if you wait on motivation to do anything, we wouldn’t be doing half of the things we do now. When it comes to discipline, you do it because you have to or need to, not because you want to. I wouldn’t want to record a 2-minute presentation on a research project but I do it because I have to.
- Be Present
A lot of time pressure can be self-inflicted. We feel that we have to have a 5-year plan, and have to follow that plan line by line, step by step but in actuality, all you are doing is putting more stress on yourself. Don’t focus on the next two semesters, focus on the semester you are currently in. Don’t focus on the next three projects coming up, focus on the project you are currently working on.
Thinking and being present helps you not only appreciate life but can also help you realize what you have accomplished to get to this point. Personally, I always had a habit of focusing on my next semester, not my current semester but when I focused on being present my perspective changed.
- Break it down
Sometimes in school and at work, we get assigned some big projects. When receiving a huge project, the first thing I would recommend would be to break it down into achievable steps. Always think about it in this way: Don’t try to eat the whole pizza at once; just take one slice at a time.
Breaking it down can help you see a project for what it actually is instead of what you think it is. For example, let’s say you get assigned a 12-page paper, and you have two weeks to get the paper completed. By breaking it down, you would see that you can complete about 1 page a day which will help you be able to process what you want to say and ensure you include all that’s supposed to be in the paper.
- Don’t Overthink it
Not overthinking can be a hard thing to do sometimes, especially when you are under pressure. When you have an interview or a presentation, you want everything to be perfect. With the standards set in place, you can definitely start to overthink which can lead to the pressure worsening.
Take a breath and accept that nothing is going to be perfect. There isn’t one person on this planet who hasn’t had a bad or bumpy presentation. You might have to wing a portion of your speech because you forgot a sentence or two and that’s okay. Getting stuck in your head can hinder you more than help you.
Pressure is inevitable but there are ways to get through it. Remember it’s not the pressure itself, it’s how you handle it that’s important. With Midterms going on take these tips into consideration and don’t doubt yourself. You got this!