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Career Development Tips

How to Adapt to a Fast-Paced Work Environment

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated June 29, 2021

Guide Overview

What is a fast-paced environment?How to work in a fast-paced environment

Guide Overview

Working in a fast-paced environment

Some people thrive working in a fast-paced environment while others prefer a more laid-back setting. When working at a faster pace, you are often open to exciting opportunities and the chance to excel quickly. Learning how to adapt to such an environment can help you keep up with the pace and avoid burnout. Here we explore what a fast-paced environment looks like and share tips for working in one.

What is a fast-paced environment?

A fast-paced environment is when things are always happening at a rapid pace. Employees who work in this type of workplace often juggle multiple projects or tasks at once and be prepared to take on something new with only a moment’s notice. When working in this setting, you can only celebrate a successful project for a short while since you’ll quickly have to start your next one. This type of environment is ideal for someone who is highly motivated and gets bored easily.

How to work in a fast-paced environment

Working in a fast-paced environment isn’t for everyone, although it can be quite rewarding for the right person. Follow these tips to adapt to this kind of work setting and find success:

1. Learn your expectations

Before accepting a role at a fast-paced organization, get to know what will be expected of you while working there. Ask your hiring manager what your day-to-day responsibilities will be. Upon agreeing to the offer, ask if there are any materials you should read in advance or if there is anything else you can do to prepare. Likewise, study any lingo or terminology that you may need to know. Every industry has important abbreviations and buzzwords that you should learn in advance.

2. Find a way to stay organized

Staying organized is key when working for a company that moves fast. By finding a system that works for you, it’ll be easier to stay on top of your tasks. A filing system, sticky notes, digital planner, reminders, smartphone apps, or project management websites are all great organizational tools you can use. Likewise, you need to find a way to prioritize what you need to do first. Sometimes, you’ll need to reassess what you’re doing and make last-minute changes to keep up with demands.

3. Embrace the unknown

If you enjoy spontaneity, then you’ll have no problem adjusting to this kind of work environment. If not, then you need to learn how to adapt. Rather than dwelling on a sudden issue that arises, think of it as an opportunity to grow. Learning to roll with the punches and face things head on will make you much happier in this type of workplace.

4. Lean on your coworkers

Remember that your coworkers are likely busy too, which means that they may be able to relate to how you’re feeling. Make an effort to get to know them and offer them help when they need it. You never know when they’ll return the favor, possibly helping you out when you need it the most. Having close relationships with your coworkers can also help things operate better. That’s because you get to know each other’s working styles and can delegate work more efficiently.

5. Use motivation strategies

When your to-do list keeps growing longer, it’s important to find ways to stay motivated. Creating a reward system is a great way to get yourself to stay on task. For instance, when you finish an especially challenging assignment, you could treat yourself to a nice lunch. Getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating well are also ways you can boost your energy levels and feel ready to take on another busy day.

6. See it as an adventure

Sometimes, a hectic work environment means the company is headed toward growth. If this is the case, treat it as an adventure. By working hard and staying on top of your tasks, you may be open to new and exciting career opportunities, such as raises, bonuses, or even promotions.

7. Give yourself breaks

One downside to a busy work environment is the risk of experiencing burnout. If you are feeling stressed or are having a hard time maintaining a healthy work-life balance, it may be time to give yourself a break. Using your paid time off is an important part of recharging after an especially busy time at work. Likewise, using your personal time to do things you enjoy outside of work may help you feel more motivated when it’s time to go back to the office.

8. Set goals for yourself

Setting goals is how you can stay on track in a busy workplace. In this work environment, you’ll often find that you have many on-going goals at once. When setting goals, use the SMART method:

  • Specific: Narrow the scope of your goal to make it more achievable.
  • Measurable: Decide how you’re going to measure the success of your goal.
  • Attainable: Pick a goal that is ambitious yet realistic to complete.
  • Relevant: Your goal should be related to your career aspirations and what you want to achieve.
  • Time-based: Set a deadline and milestones to stay on course.

By following this framework, you’ll find that you’re more successful with your goals. Even if you feel short on time, it’s useful to set aside some time to carefully plan your goals. When you really think them through and write them down, they are going to be much more realistic to achieve.

9. Work on your communication

Developing both your written and verbal communication skills is crucial to thriving in a fast-paced environment. You need to know how to effectively communicate with your team and get the important details of a project. Listening is half of communication, which is why you should work on your active listening strategies. This means making an effort to fully understand what your colleague is saying and then finding ways to thoughtfully add to what they have to share. Giving a coworker the chance to speak without interruption can make them feel more valued and help you learn more information.

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