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business career entrepreneur success

Reducing Stress When Writing on a Deadline

Relaxing

Writing under pressure can be a stressful experience, as deadlines loom or the workload unexpectedly increases. So it’s important to relax before and during your writing. This can help you to achieve your writing goals more effectively.

Relaxation has several benefits when you’re writing under pressure. It clears the mind and relaxes the body. It also reduces anxiety. And just as important, relaxing helps ideas and words flow more easily.

There are many activities you can undertake to help you relax. For example, taking a short break helps refresh you for the writing task ahead.

Similarly, you may find taking a walk on your lunch break, outside the confines of your workplace, can help put you at ease. Taking a break from the office environment can be a very effective way to alleviate stress.

Or you might like talking to your colleagues about something completely unrelated to work, such as a TV show, a movie, or a recent sports event. Breaks like these from a pressured writing routine can all be beneficial.

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Writing under Pressure

Writing well under pressure

Remember Joel? In order to perform at his best when writing under pressure, he needs to consider three things. First, he needs to consider how he can reduce stress. Then he should think about how he can prepare his writing environment. And finally, he can look at ways he can reduce distractions while working on a writing task.

Reduce stress

While some people excel when working under pressure, others find it overwhelming. To help you reduce stress, try working relaxation and diversion into your daily routine. 

Take regular short breaks. Relaxing should help order your thoughts so you can write more effectively. Also, try temporarily working on other less demanding tasks.

Joel regularly takes a stroll on his lunch break. He finds this helps him relax.

Prepare writing environment

When writing under pressure it’s best to work in an environment you find comfortable. Often this will be your work desk. However, there are other places that could suit you better. 

An empty conference room or lunch room, or some other quiet corner of your workplace, might give you the peace you require to commit fully to the task of writing. Wherever you choose to work, ensure you have the necessary resources close at hand.

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business career entrepreneur success

Using Jidoka and Standardized Work

Using Jidoka to Solve Problems

It’s important to react if you spot a defect or problem with something you’re working on. If you’re following Lean principles, you can use jidoka — a four-step process for problem solving.

Let’s start with the first step: detecting an error. This could occur through observation, delays, or changes in pattern. Many problems — such as broken parts or distorted graphics — may be found through visual inspection. Sometimes an odd smell or sound may also alert people that there’s a problem.

Pay attention to delays because they’re often an early indication that something isn’t right upstream. If ignored, they can cascade downstream and create significant backlogs. Also watch out for any disruption of a standardized process or pattern, which may indicate a problem.

If possible, get some machine assistance by installing a device to identify any abnormalities in a product or process. This type of device is an example of a poka yoke. An error message that pops up is an example of a computer software poka yoke designed to detect problems and alert users. In manufacturing, if a piece is misaligned or misshaped, a poka yoke could alert the operator with flashing lights or a beeping sound.

With jidoka, the second step is stopping the process. If you’re working in a manufacturing setting, this could involve stopping the production line. In the service industry, for example, this could mean halting the process of completing a form to avoid including incorrect information.

Next, limit wasted time and resources by fixing the immediate problem — do what it takes to get things up and running again. This could entail finding a way to bypass malfunctioning equipment or replacing a defective component. In the service industry, a quick fix might be getting missing information from a different source.

Remember, these are just temporary countermeasures. They don’t address why the errors occur in the first place. That’s why the fourth step is investigating the root cause of a problem before installing a poka yoke — or another strategy — to prevent the problem from recurring.

Let’s say you identify root causes, such as a faulty piece of equipment or a worker who isn’t using a specified process. You handle these issues using corrective actions — these fix the problem and prevent the problem from recurring. This can include replacing a faulty piece of equipment and improving worker training.

Depending on the root cause, you might benefit from the corrective action of installing a poka yoke. An example of this is data entry software, which prevents users from advancing to a new screen until required fields have been completed.

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Hoshin Kanri Strategies

If you’re looking for a way to help your organization adapt, innovate, and align its actions with strategic goals, the Hoshin Kanri methodology for setting and managing strategic direction can help you do just that.

With Hoshin Kanri, you envision an ideal future for your business and then develop strategies to bring that vision to life.

Ever heard of Plan-Do-Check-Act, or PDCA? Just like Hoshin Kanri, it’s a dynamic approach that focuses on continuous improvement. In fact, Hoshin Kanri maps to the various stages of the PDCA cycle.

Let’s break it down. In the plan phase, you assess and define the problems your organization is facing. When troubleshooting a problem, it helps to determine the root cause. Figure out why the problem exists and then develop a strategy for dealing with it. Consider the management team of a specialty coffee shop who decide to implement Hoshin Kanri in an effort to boost sales.

During the plan phase, they identify the problem of losing customers who are put off by long queues. Why is the waiting period so long? There aren’t enough coffee machines to process multiple orders at once. The team reviews the budget and decides to purchase an additional machine.

In the do phase, you implement the strategy identified during planning. In the coffee shop example, the do phase involves purchasing and installing a new coffee machine.

Now it’s time to assess if what you’ve planned and implemented is working — the check phase. The management team discovers the wait time has gone down and sales are up, but they think there’s still room for improvement. They notice some staff speed through the orders while others work slowly, constantly checking the recipe cards.

What you do in the act phase depends on the outcome of the check phase. If your strategy was successful, then standardize it. If your strategy didn’t achieve what you hoped for, you’ll need to identify corrective actions for improving it. This takes you back to the start of the cycle, where you plan to address the problem.

In the coffee shop example, during the act phase, the management team decides to plan a strategy to improve the slower baristas’ speed and efficiency — ultimately boosting profits and customer satisfaction.

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