How to Overcome the Anxiety of an Upcoming Deadline

When you work in a traditional office, your entire company shares in the stress of an upcoming deadline. In some ways, this makes it worse – shared stress can exacerbate the anxiety you already feel. But in other ways, it makes it better, because your coworkers who share your experience act as a circle of support.

Working remotely is different. Without the traditional office, the anxiety you experience isn’t shared with those around you. It’s simply you, alone, figuring out how to handle the stress of the deadline and looking for ways to overcome your anxiety.

While you can always expect a little bit of stress near any deadline, even if you are way ahead of schedule, too much anxiety can be harmful to your happiness and to your focus. So here are some ideas for reducing that anxiety so that your deadline comes and goes smoothly.
Keep a S.M.A.R.T. goals list

Much of the anxiety comes from not being sure that every piece of the project is finished. Even if you are only supposed to handle one task, there is always the chance that some aspect of the project was missed, and this creates the anxiety.

Instead, create goals at the beginning that are S.M.A.R.T. – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Additionally, if you maintain a complete list of your specific goals and when they should be completed, you’ll be able to mark off each and every part of the project as you progress, knowing with certainty that you are going to finish on time.

Communicate throughout the day

People with deadline anxiety often fuel it by delaying the inevitable work, especially when they’re behind on a project or concerned about when it will be completed. That delay leads to more stress as you worry about what you’re going to say and what your boss or client will respond with. Get it over with early by communicating all throughout the day via email or Skype (or whatever you use for correspondence), so that there are no surprises when the deadline gets closer.

Create a positivity journal

Deadlines often cause you to focus on what hasn’t yet been done, and that only serves to fuel your anxiety. Consider starting a positivity journal, a place for you to share positive affirmations and thoughts, telling yourself that you’re going to be okay and that you’ll be able to focus and complete your project to the best of your ability. These journals help train your mind to stop centering on the negative, making them a worthwhile tool for people that need this type of mindset change.

Many people work too hard as a deadline draws near, often neglecting sleep in order to complete the project. Unfortunately, avoiding sleep tends to have the opposite effect. Sleep deprivation makes it very hard to focus on your tasks, and it exacerbates stress considerably – especially when deadlines are close. You want to be at the top of your game, so even if you have to put off a little bit of work, get that good night’s sleep. You’ll find it valuable for your productivity and your anxiety levels.

Deadline stress is natural, and only a few people can successfully avoid it as they get closer to a deadline. Unless your project is already complete, you should expect deadlines to cause anxiety. But with the right tips and planning, you can reduce the severity of the symptoms, keep yourself focused on your project and have an easier time finishing the tasks you need to.

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