My secret work weapon: Take a minute to think things through

When the pressure is piling on, take a minute to think things through and clarify the task you are tackling.

It was a startling introduction to the world of "management". Here was I, a young, green, keen bean, fresh out of university who found I knew nothing when catapulted into the world of work and a "manager" role - a heady title. I thought I was doing pretty well. Things seemed to happen when they were supposed to; I was busy.

Just when I was getting the hang of it, somebody decided that managers weren't any good until they'd been sent to a cold, wet corner of the Peak District and undertaken a series of team challenges with fellow "leaders".

Jim (let's call him Jim) liked to take charge of the task. Bish, bash, bosh. "Right team, I'm holding the stick - let's go here as fast as we can." We got there and found it wasn't "here" at all. "Right team, plan B - double-back over there." We'd double-back and find the other team had beaten us to it. We all wanted to win the task: it was just the bish, bash, bosh bit. I learned to interrupt the charge: "Hang on, Jim, let's just think about this. Maybe a minute of thinking this through could save us 10 of heading in the wrong direction."

Guess what? It worked. Take a minute when you're about to charge and there's huge pressure to get there first. It only takes a minute, but can save you from a world of pain.