productive pressure

How to Increase Productivity without Burning Out

One of the biggest challenges as a business leader is motivating your team.

That means providing the right vision, but it also means calibrating the pressure you and your team feel to succeed.

Too much pressure, and you all feel frazzled and burned out.

Too little pressure, and your team becomes apathetic and bored.

It’s a careful balance, but with some practice and guidance, you can hit the sweet spot of productive pressure.

What is productive pressure? (And why is it so important that I named my company after it?)

It should come as no surprise that productive pressure is important to me – after all, it’s the name of my company!

But what exactly is it?

Productive pressure represents the magical convergence of urgency and capability that can lead your team to thrive. It’s just enough stress to encourage high performance without tipping over the edge into burnout and overwhelm.

If you are or have ever been an athlete, you know there is a careful balancing act between applying enough pressure to improve fitness and reach maximal potential, without applying so much stress that you experience physical or psychological damage.

It’s the same with your business.

The sweet spot is right in the middle: sufficient pressure to crush your big business goals – but not so much that you or your team burn out.

How to know when you’re in the productive pressure zone (and when you’re not)

Here are some signs that you and your team need some productive pressure:

  • Everyone is burning the candle at both ends. Your team feels stressed and overworked, putting in crazy hours and headed down the road to burnout.
  • No one can see the big picture anymore. They’re too busy to even understand why their work matters – or why they’re doing what they’re doing.
  • You and your team are phoning in your performance: letting goals slide and failing to meet potential – either because you’re all fried, or you’re just plain bored.
  • You don’t feel energized about your business and your future vision. Instead, you’re going through the motions, just trying to make it through your days.
  • You’re delaying big decisions and high-level business planning or strategy because you just feel too tired to think.

If any of this sounds familiar, it’s in your best interests to get yourself – and your team – into a state of flow so that your business and your customers can thrive.

Tips for maintaining productive pressure

Here are a few suggestions for making sure your team is experiencing productive pressure:

Work in 90-day sprints

You’ll find that 90 days is long enough to accomplish a lot, while also being short enough to create a healthy sense of urgency.

When you and your team work in 90-day sprints, it’s important first to create a clear goal.

What will you accomplish during those 90 days – and why does it matter?

Then, you can move forward with short, daily check-ins that keep your team focused on short-term wins that move them toward the ultimate goal.

Make stress your friend

A certain amount of stress is good for you!

To further energize your team, encourage them to use time-management hacks like the pomodoro technique – breaking up the work day into intense 25-minute bursts of productivity, followed by five-minute breaks.

Longer breaks are built in after the completion of four productivity intervals.

Practices like this provide a healthy amount of stress to keep your team focused and help discourage both procrastinating and multi-tasking.

Take time to reassess your goals

Sometimes, if you’re not engaged in meeting a goal, it’s because it just doesn’t fit anymore.

It doesn’t match your values, your skill set or what’s important to you.

The same is often true for your team. Taking the time to assess your business goals and make sure they’re still relevant is a productive use of your time.

In other words, you should VET your goals before you SET your goals.

Here how it all breaks down:

Values – do your business goals align with your personal and professional values? If the answer is that things have gotten out of alignment, it’s time to put them back. Ask your team to help you – chances are, their taking ownership in the process will help energize them too.

Energy – are your business goals things that you and your team feel passionate about? If your goals drain your energy instead of fueling your energy, then those aren’t good goals for you anymore.

Talent – do you and your team have the skills and competencies to make your true and aligned goals a reality? You must have team members with the right skills and in the right roles to meet your business needs.

A shift in goal alignment can make a huge difference in making sure your team stays in – or gets back to – the productive pressure zone.

As the leader of your business, it’s up to you to evaluate your team’s level of pressure and course-correct where necessary.

But you don’t have to do it alone. I can help. If you’d like to talk through ways to maximize productive pressure, set up a strategy call with me today.

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