Some people produce their best work under pressure. I don’t mean under stress, I mean under pressure and in my mind there’s a big difference. Stress is something that you let happen to you. In fact, it’s you doing it to yourself. With the exception of extraordinary situations, stress is all in your mind. It’s you telling yourself that it can’t be done and being so caught up in that thought that you worry and worry and thus create more stress. (Remember that post about being your own friend? I should’ve also mentioned that it can probably lower stress.)
Pressure is an outside force. It’s a deadline. It’s someone pushing you, in any sense of the word. It’s something that you can stress about, but again that choice is yours. In the physical, scientific sense, it can (as motivational posters will tell you) turn coal into diamonds. For me and for others, it can produce some of the best work and best results.
In the creative world, being under the pressure of a deadline helps to focus on the important stuff. It stifles the inner-critic that tells you that your ideas won’t work and that you shouldn’t even give them a second thought. You have no choice but to go for it and commit to your choices. You may have a little bit of time to tweak some small things, but ultimately, you’re jumping in the deep end, ready to swim. I know that when I’m close to a deadline, my best work is coming out, whether I want it to or not.
Now that’s not to say that it’s not important to be organized and to try to hit your deadlines by spreading out the work over time. But you’d be surprised what a little — or in my case far too often, a lot — of procrastination can do to get your brain into gear for the final stretch.
So I suppose pressure is also a choice if you’re an avid procrastinator like me. But don’t let it stress you out. Diamonds don’t, you shouldn’t either.