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Know your speed: Is a fast-paced environment right for you?

October 6, 2022 - 13 min read


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What is a fast-paced environment?

What can you expect from a fast-paced environment?

So, which work pace is right for you?

5 tips to thrive and succeed in a fast-paced environment

For the future

And what moves faster than your work environment? A fast-paced environment isn't for everyone, but some people thrive amidst chaos and pressure. It could just be another aspect of your dream job, and you knew that while reading the job description. At the same time, the tight deadlines, long hours, and high pressure eat away at your work-life balance.

Whether you live for a fast-paced environment or not, there's lots to learn about what to expect, how to succeed, and how to know what pace is best for you. And that's exactly what we'll cover in this article, so let's begin.


What is a fast-paced environment?

In a fast-paced environment, workflows change and move rapidly, forcing you to quickly adapt to new circumstances or juggle multiple daily tasks and deadlines. You could be writing a report, prepping for a meeting, and giving feedback all at once. 

In this kind of work environment, you'll never be bored or without work to do. And if you work in an environment like this, you can expect few relaxing and easy days. 

In environments like these, you’re expected to jump in wherever you’re needed. At times it might seem like there needs to be all hands on deck to accomplish something, so team members must work collaboratively.

But other times, your fast-paced work environment might demand a high volume of independent work from all team members. Delegating or finding support when everyone has a long list of individual tasks might be tough.

Depending on the industry, fast-paced environments can stem from organizations pressuring employees to be ideal workers. They want their employees to prioritize the company's needs ahead of themselves, but that isn’t beneficial or necessary.

A fast-paced work environment shouldn't force employees to relinquish their needs for their work's sake. A healthy work-life balance should be an option.

Like any workplace, a fast-paced environment always sets goals, works hard, and strives for success. They just do it at a snappy pace.

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What can you expect from a fast-paced environment?

Working in a fast-paced environment might look different depending on your industry. You might work at a desk, while others are on their feet the whole day. But regardless of the industry, fast-paced careers all benefit from a few mutual skills. 

Here's a quick list of some handy skills to have when working in a fast-paced environment:


Plus, you'll find some commonalities across all fast-paced work environments. Here's what to expect:

  • Working under tight deadlines
  • Needing adaptability and flexibility for new projects
  • Multitasking  
  • Completing work in a short amount of time
  • Regularly setting goals — and achieving them

BetterUp is here to help you develop the skills you need to work in a fast-paced work environment. It takes grit, determination, and resiliency to succeed in a fast-paced environment, and our coaches are here to empower you to thrive.

So, which work pace is right for you?

Don't sweat it if you think fast-paced work environments aren't for you. Slow-paced jobs also exist. And compared to fast-paced jobs, they take things slowly. Tight deadlines aren't as common, and neither is high pressure. Instead, your workflow includes time to breathe.

The pace of a job is especially important for those with anxiety. If people find the work pace too fast and struggle to keep up, they become anxious and aren't as accurate with their work. One study found that work pace and anxiety predict accuracy and job performance

If you have anxiety, you might not want a high-stress job at an office with competitive company culture. Look for jobs where you'll feel comfortable and management listens to your concerns.


If you're unsure if your new job will be fast-paced or not, don't be afraid to ask the hiring manager during the job interview. All job seekers should make their mental health a top priority.

Work pace might be hard to visualize if you're new to the industry. If you need some help, here's a list of fast-paced and slow-paced jobs to check out:


  • Restaurant work like bartending or serving
  • Working a startup as an entrepreneur
  • Healthcare work, especially in busy hospitals
  • Newsroom jobs as a reporter, editor, or producer
  • Package handlers


  • Receptionists 
  • Florists
  • Baker 
  • Hairstylist or barber
  • Yoga instructor

The thing about fast-paced work is that it can either be successful and run like a well-oiled machine or a disaster. It depends on management and if employee well-being is a priority. A fast-paced work environment that's poorly managed leads to high-stress levels, burnout, and exhaustion.

One study on hospital workers found that when their work pace was too fast with poor support, it led to more stress, tension, anxiety, low job satisfaction, and negative job culture. But when the proper resources were available to support staff, the hospital ran better, and employees were happier.

And if a fast-paced environment is what you love (which we understand), you need some helpful tips to succeed. Let's go over them. 


5 tips to thrive and succeed in a fast-paced environment

You don't just want to survive your fast-paced job, you want to thrive in it. But you might not thrive immediately and certainly won't do your best if you don't pick up any tips. An action plan helps you stay organized in a fast and sometimes chaotic work environment. It'll help ground you and set you up to do the job and do it well.

To give you an idea, here are five success tips to help you thrive in a fast-paced environment:

1. Know how to prioritize your time

Some tasks are more important than others. Learning how to manage your time will help you stay organized and accomplish the pressing work that can't wait. The fast pace of your job might demand last-minute touches or details to add to a project, and you have to be ready.

Try time blocking to ensure everything has a spot on your calendar or listing and ranking your tasks from most to least important.

2. Learn how to manage your stress

One of the most important skills for any job, but especially for a fast-paced one, is knowing how to manage your stress. You'll become stressed at some point in your career, and learning how to take care of your health will benefit you in the future. 

Take the time to listen to what your body tells you. Does your head hurt? Is your stomach upset? How have you been eating lately? Taking care of your body will give you the energy and strength to keep up with your work.


3. Lean on team members for support

You're part of a team, so act like it. Collaborating at work helps you lean on others for support and welcomes an environment where people want to uplift each other. Rather than compete against coworkers, recognize that you're all working toward the same goal. Teamwork does make the dream work, so don't feel embarrassed to ask others for help.

4. Limit distractions around you

Lots of things try to steal your attention away from your work. And when you have tight deadlines and work to complete, you need to focus. When you enter work mode, remember to turn off any unnecessary notifications, like from texts or social media. Make sure your desk space is set up to prevent potential difficulty concentrating.

5. Don't be afraid to use your voice

Sometimes, things will confuse you, even under a deadline. Don't forget your voice is a powerful tool capable of creating change. Asking questions will help you understand your tasks better and know what you need to do to succeed. Making suggestions might help your environment run smoother or help with problem-solving.

Your ideas and skills won't come to light unless you voice them. And don’t forget: late work is easier to explain than sloppy work.

For the future

​​A fast-paced environment is thrilling, demanding, and even rewarding for some. When it's managed properly and prioritizes employee mental health, it's an exciting work environment. The fast-paced workplace teaches you many new skills to juggle multiple tasks simultaneously. But it's not for everyone, and that's OK.

Aim to find a working style and environment that makes you feel comfortable and like you belong. Success should be attainable, and burnout shouldn't be the standard.

Being part of a fast-paced environment isn't worth the work anxiety and other health issues. And it doesn’t make you cooler or tougher than someone else. It just means that you have different preferences.

You deserve a healthy work-life balance and to find meaning and purpose within your work. Everyone goes at their own pace, just like they do in life. Remember to recognize and be proud of whatever your pace is.

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Published October 6, 2022

Maggie Wooll

Managing Editor

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