The Secret To Working Effectively On Board


  • Seafarers face a lot of pressure on board relating to the excessive paperwork, complex workload, high traffic etc.
  • Working under pressure can result in accidents, injuries, fatigue and what not.
  • Prioritizing, meditation and recreational work are some of the coping mechanisms to beat this stress.

How often do you encounter situations in which you believe you have more to do than you have time to complete? The ability to “work under pressure” is an important skill in today’s fast-paced business environment as reported by Safety4sea. 

Harsh effects

Work-related stress in seafarers has distinct characteristics that are often distinct from that seen in other jobs. Heavy weather, time constraints, increased workload, complex paperwork, high traffic. 

Other hazards in the form of accidents, injuries, and diseases are just a few of the challenges that seafarers face onboard. When you factor in loneliness, separation from family, fatigue, and limited recreational activities, crews face a lot of stress while working onboard as reported by Safety4sea.

Buildup pressure

However, unlike shore-based jobs, seafarers do not return home at the end of the day. This can cause a buildup of pressure over time. Stress-filled jobs have a negative impact on health as well as life quality and wellbeing. 

Since stress can’t be avoided, it’s essential to learn how to manage it well and even use it to boost productivity. Some practical examples of working under pressure.

Equipment Failure 

A water ingress was reported in the forepeak section of a general cargo vessel carrying 750 tonnes of metal sheets to Klaipeda, Lithuania. The forepeak already had about 60 cubic metres of water, which was close to the critical limit. 

As a result, the vessel’s crew had to pump out the water. A flaw in the ventilation duct’s non-return valves caused water ingress in the forepeak.

Navigating in busy waters

While transiting the Singapore Strait traffic separation scheme, the officer on watch has to deal simultaneously with a combination of high traffic as well as visual and radar information, in order to identify both smaller vessels and keep a proper distance from large ship traffic in the lanes.

COVID-19-related stress

During the pandemic, the Covid-19 crisis increased work-related stress among seafarers, leading to an increase in insomnia and depression. 

During the first months of the pandemic, medical experts in Italy, Spain, and Denmark discovered that more than half of seafarers felt unsafe on the job; coping mechanisms for this pressure.

Prioritize tasks

Learning to distinguish between what is urgent and what is not is a golden time management tip that is not as simple as it sounds. The Eisenhower Model, developed by former US President Eisenhower, is a good strategy for prioritising tasks based on urgency and importance.

Also sorting out those less urgent or important tasks that you do not have to do yourself. This results in four quadrants with distinct work strategies:

(1) urgent and important;

(2) important but not urgent;

(3) urgent but not important;

(4) neither urgent nor important.

Work against procrastination

Procrastination frequently increases the amount of time required to complete a task, increasing stress and eliciting feelings of guilt. Dealing with paperwork is one of the tasks that many crew members would gladly defer. 

We could say “stop procrastinating,” but you already know that this is not an easy task. A useful tip is to give yourself small “rewards” for completing tasks, such as “I’ll finish this and then watch the episode,” or similar tactics that can help you get the work done and on time.

Necessary Breaks

It is simple to rush through a task and forget to eat or take a 10-minute break, but this is the biggest productivity trap. A few minutes away from the task will allow you to decompress and free your mind, ultimately increasing your efficiency and relieving stress.

Correct evaluation

Evaluate each task on your list to see if any of them can be postponed. Trying to do everything at once is bad for your mental health and often results in poor results.

Maintain other interests 

Because of the unique nature of seafaring, working and relaxing time take place in the same environment. This means that seafarers must be extra cautious to maintain their mental health by distinguishing between work and leisure time.

Expect the unexpected 

Unexpected situations are a normality for life onboard. Learning to expect the unexpected can help seafarers develop the mental readiness for any tasks.

Mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness, among other things, helps people stay calm in stressful situations. Incorporating the present moment into your daily life through mindfulness meditation has many advantages, including a reduction in stress. There are several apps available for download that can assist you in developing a mindfulness practice.

Enhancing Soft Skills

The necessary skill set for the modern workplace, including seafaring, is dominated by soft skills like effective listening and flexibility. At the end of the day, knowing how to stay calm and apply complex problem-solving techniques can mean the difference between success and failure.

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Source: Safety4sea


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