In the recent months, my company has been blessed with an explosion of new projects.  These projects have kept us very busy. This has lead to hiring another wonderful software developer, Patrick Miller.  We rearranged our office seating and changed the way we do things so that we can communicate more effectively and improve the quality of our work.  I keep emphasizing to the team the importance of quality, and that the last thing that we should sacrifice is quality of work.

However, that goal is getting harder and harder to achieve.  The work keeps pouring in, but it appears that we don't have the resources to get it all done.  I'm looking for answers to this problem and would like your comments and input on how you've solved similar problems.  Some of the things I've learned or considered:

  • Teach myself and my team better stress management techniques.  I've realized that much of the "stress" we feel comes from pressures that are imagined or perceived.  In other words, if we look at the pressures differently, it will help us cope with and adapt to the stress better.Prolonged stress isn't good so we need to work hard to get coping with it better.
  • I liked these paragraph from Wikipedia:"Richard Lazarus and Susan Folkman suggested in 1984 that stress can be thought of as resulting from an “imbalance between demands and resources” or as occurring when “pressure exceeds one's perceived ability to cope”. Stress management was developed and premised on the idea that stress is not a direct response to a stressor but rather one's resources and ability to cope mediate the stress response and are amenable to change, thus allowing stress to be controllable.[3]"In order to develop an effective stress management programme it is first necessary to identify the factors that are central to a person controlling his/her stress, and to identify the intervention methods which effectively target these factors. Lazarus and Folkman's interpretation of stress focuses on the transaction between people and their external environment (known as the Transactional Model). The model contends that stress may not be a stressor if the person does not perceive the stressor as a threat but rather as positive or even challenging. Also, if the person possesses or can use adequate coping skills, then stress may not actually be a result or develop because of the stressor. The model proposes that people can be taught to manage their stress and cope with their stressors. They may learn to change their perspective of the stressor and provide them with the ability and confidence to improve their lives and handle all of types of stressors."In other words, I can do the following 1. Identify the sources of stress. 2. Look at them differently if possible. 3. See what can be done to bring the demands / resources ratio back in balance (increase resources, decrease demands, etc.).
  • Tell clients asking for changes that they will have to wait a few days or weeks for things to happen.  Explain that it's going to take some time.  They will need to be OK with it.
  • Bring Patrick up to speed with Django as fast as possible.
  • Look to see if I can outsource any of the work that's piling up.

More things I learned about stress management:

  • The first step to managing stress is to identify what is stressing you and observe how you react.  In my case, these things cause me stress: a disorganized & cluttered home, crying baby, server issues (that's a big one), and a mounting inbox of e-mails I haven't replied to or taken action yet.
  • The second step is to take responsibility.  I need to realize that I may have habits (such as procrastination and avoidance behavior) or attitudes that induce more stress.  Also, there are some things that may be within my control that I need to address (such as the server issues) that could resolve or mitigate that as a stressor.  If my attitudes or habits are creating my own stress, I can and should focus on changing those habits.
  • The only healthy way to adapt to stress is to change.  I need to either change the situation or change my reaction.  There are four "A"s to do in regards to the stressor: Avoid, Alter, Accept, Adapt.  Choose one and see if that helps your stress level.
  • Some other thoughts:
    • Avoid self destructive behavior and thoughts: "I'm never going to get this right" "I always mess this up" "I'm no good at this" etc.
    • Delegate what you can.
    • Manage your time better.  By putting the most important things first, it will save a lot of headache
    • Avoid procrastination.  Doing things at the last minute is always a source of stress.
    • Learn to say "no" when you've reached your limit.  When you've already have too much to do, taking on more is a recipe for stress.
    • Anticipate problems and address those before they become a big problem.  You will never have a big problem if you take care of the problem when it's small.
    • Take time to relax. Joseph Smith said a bow that's always stringed up will lose its spring. Take time to unstring yourself so that you're more effective in other areas.

This site had some good suggestions for how to deal with and cope with stress properly: