Productivity Under Pressure: When Time is Ticking Away, You Can Still Be Successful!

When Autumn arrives, it comes with what I always feel is a shift in how the world looks and feels. Leaves start to turn and then fall, like sands in an hourglass. In many ways, it starts to feel like the “Countdown Season” to me. Countdown to what? Maybe the holidays, or year-end, or elections, or some other deadline. Whatever it is, Autumn to me, more than any other season, seems like the zip-through in time to other moments, like the whole world is spending its time counting down to something else. And in a lot of cases, the pressure is to get things done before that moment is ON! Can you still capture productivity and success when time is running out so quickly?

When time is diminishing in front of your eyes, it can be stressful, overwhelming, or just plain impossible to imagine how you’re going to get all the things done before that moment comes that you imagined you would earlier in the year, or last year at this time. You CAN still be productive! You CAN still achieve goals! Don’t let the countdown scare you away from trying; you can make a real plan to succeed. You CAN have PRODUCTIVITY UNDER PRESSURE!




Step One: POSSIBILITY: What COULD you do?

You may once have had a vision of what you would achieve before a date in the future. With a looming deadline, that may need to be reimagined. You need an understanding of your resources and limitations, and an ability to evaluate and prioritize the possibilities that are in front of you. Your new version of your vision needs to reflect what’s achievable when you consider the pressure you are under. Maybe the original vision was something like losing a certain amount of weight, saving a specific amount of money, launching a project at work, decluttering your whole home. or some other project that had a sizeable ambition. Now, in order to achieve it, maybe it needs to be diminished in some way, modified, adjusted. Instead of losing 20lbs, maybe it is 10. Instead of decluttering the whole home, you are focusing on the room which will make the biggest impact for family visiting at the holidays. You look at “Perfect” and then tailor it for “Possible”. When you get to your new version of the vision, it sounds like, “Since I am up against a deadline, I’m going to have to make some tough choices. I can still reach most of my initial goal if I do _________ instead.” 

Step Two: COMMITMENT: What WILL you do?

With each passing day, you have less to work with to achieve your possibilities. Commitment brings some muscle to your intention and helps you put intention into action. You scope out your modified version of your vision that you want and are able to bring to life. Commitment to your new vision sounds like, “I am doing what it takes to make sure that I _______ by my deadline. It’s important to me, and I’m going to make it happen.”

Step Three: FOCUS: What ARE you doing?

When you’re able to put action behind intention, your commitment comes to life! It is here where you know you’re making the progress you need to achieve your goals. Think about your schedule and the time you get in a week, a day, even in an hour: How can you make sure FOCUS is part of it, do the actions, and stay accountable? This one sounds like, “In order to achieve my goal, I am going to have ______. I’m going to do this ________.”

Step Four: ACKNOWLEDGMENT: What DID you do?

So often, we don’t take the moment to acknowledge what we have achieved, and only focus on what we missed, what we eliminated, where we failed. When we’re up against deadlines and pressure and have to prioritize to complete a version of a vision, it is important to reflect on the fact that we made choices, and we accomplished what we saw was MOST critical when we were forced to decide between our goals and our challenges. It also can help reinforce your “next time” proclamations for having a better plan. Acknowledgment sounds like, “I may not have done everything I dreamed of doing or was capable doing, but when I got back to commitment and focus, I was able to achieve what mattered most!”



So, as you’re staring down the next few months, with some deadlines of your own, what did you promise yourself earlier you’d do that just isn’t on track for success? What needs a do-over for planning and accomplishment? What needs a PRODUCTIVITY UNDER PRESSURE Plan??










  1. Ellen Delap

    I love these 4 steps because most of us think of just step 3. If we start with step 1, we will be better engaged in getting to the finish line.

    • clevergirlorg

      Thanks, Ellen! Getting to the finish line is the big goal… even if we move the start line up a bit! 🙂

  2. Seana Turner

    I like #4 a lot! We tend to forget, and therefore discount, what we have actually accomplished. Maybe all we did was get the dishwasher unloaded because we have little ones pulling on us all day long… but hey, we got the dishwasher unloaded! Hooray! Few people I know sit and stare all day long, so things are getting done. Celebrate the progress, celebrate the little steps. There will never come a time when everything is perfectly done, so don’t delay joy waiting for it.

    • clevergirlorg

      It is so easy to look at the failures in life… celebrating even the small wins can make a huge difference in motivation for the next challenge that comes along. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Janet Barclay

    #1 is great – it reminds me of something I heard in a recent webinar. Often as we reach the end of the year (or some other target date) and realize we haven’t accomplished all we wanted to, we just say “Oh well, maybe next time…” even though there’s still time to accomplish SOMETHING.

    Once I had a Friday afternoon phone call with my accountability partner, and she asked me what I was going to work on after our call. I said it was too late to bother and she tore a strip off me! That day I realized it’s never too late to do SOMETHING.

    • clevergirlorg

      Yes! The outlook is liberating: It is never too late to do SOMETHING, even if it is too late to do EVERYTHING!

  4. Linda Samuels

    What an excellent view: “You look at ‘perfect’ and then tailor it for ‘possible.'” I love that! So often we think that it’s all or nothing. This phrase takes that pressure off and lets us rethink what we can do. What a positive way to view things.

    • clevergirlorg

      Thank you so much! So glad you enjoyed this one!


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