Why “I Work Better Under Pressure” is a Lie for Most People

Many procrastinators believe they work better under pressure; however, most people don’t work better under pressure because it can tip toward anxiety and take a bad toll on their bodies and minds. Today, let’s look at the truth behind what happens when you wait to do things until the last minute.

You Can’t Fool Your Subconscious Mind

Our subconscious mind serves as an inner guidance system reminding us of all our obligations, activities, lessons learned, and more. When we fail to keep our promises to others or miss deadlines, our ego kicks in to protect us from the condemnation and internal dialogue that can lead us to feel shame and guilt. It doesn’t always work well; but when it does, we can make ourselves believe that our behavior is okay and that we will do better by waiting until later to complete the task at hand or keep our commitment.

You’re Less Capable Under Pressure

Waiting until last minute causes us to become laser focused. Because we have no time left, we shut out the rest of the world and only focus on the task at hand. This deceives us into thinking we are actually performing better because when we aren’t up against a deadline we tend to become easily distracted. We feel like we have opened up a new level of genius for ourselves when in reality we have allowed the task to become our master for that timeframe.

Two Common Myths About Procrastination

Instead of lying to yourself about how well you work under pressure, you can shift your mindset. Allow yourself to plan your schedule so you have adequate time, energy, and resources to complete tasks. The key is to be honest about what pressure means to you and how you use it to perform. Here are two myths about working under pressure that need to be busted.

Myth: Putting Things Off Relieves Stress

Procrastinators are very good at deceiving themselves into believing they are less stressed when they put things off. They believe by freeing up time today they are actually giving themselves time to focus on what matters. This simply isn’t true in the long run because the when you procrastinate at the level of being called a Procrastinator, you are doing it too often. While today may feel less stressful on the surface, the truth is you are increasing your stress levels by creating a task that hanging out there undone and may now require more attention that it originally did because you waited too long.

Save yourself from this stress by instead setting aside time to do less than fun tasks or ones that will require more concentration. Then you know each day that from X o’clock to X o’clock you can focus on just those tasks that allow you to live a less stressful existence. This will also help you with developing a routine, something procrastinators and creatives can often struggle with (and we have a lot of both types in this audience!).

Myth: Difficult Tasks are Easier to Conquer When You are Hyper-Focused Under Pressure

This one has a little bit of truth to it. However, most myths do. When you are hyper-focused you WILL accomplish more difficult tasks and it may feel easier. However, you can achieve hyper-focus by setting up your environment for it ANY TIME! That’s right. By creating the same environment you have when up against a deadline because of procrastination, you can easily become hyper-focused for any task you have to accomplish!

  • Shut the door to your office, if you have one.
  • Clear your desk so that you don’t have anything in front of you that can draw your attention away from what you are working on.
  • Shut off all phone and computer notifications so nothing can interrupt your thought flow.
  • Get a babysitter or caretaker for the kids, and spouse if needed!
  • Turn off all music so you can focus on your thoughts. (If you have ADHD or other diagnosed condition that makes it so music helps you focus, then use the music you usually play in this instance, such as lofi hiphop or classical). 

Don’t fool yourself into believing the myth you work better under pressure. While being able to work under pressure is certainly a valuable character trait, it isn’t one that most people truly have all the time. Use that skill set when you’re thrown a curve ball that can’t be avoided. Becoming proactive and taking care of your tasks without the threat of time is preferred to working under stressful conditions. 


Between today and tomorrow, when you feel the urge to put something off, ask yourself if it is worth the stress that you will endure by trying to rush on it later. Start small by automatically doing anything that takes 10 minutes or less right away. Don’t even think about it, just do it!

2 Comments on “Why “I Work Better Under Pressure” is a Lie for Most People

  1. Pingback: Procrastination to Progress Challenge: Weekly Check In – Shell Vera

  2. Pingback: Self-Check: Do You Use These Excuses to Justify Your Procrastination? – Shell Vera

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