There’s nothing like a crunch at a design firm. An all-hands-on-deck time when the entire team is hard at work trying to meet deadlines that are, frankly, nuts. It’s a time of tension. You can tell because your lower back has been screaming at you for days, no matter how expensive and ergonomic your chair might be.
We wrote last week about how to cope with inevitable lulls.
Well, the lull’s over and your firm is deep, deep in the weeds! These are the times you look forward to and dread in equal parts. As deadlines loom, pressure mounts, and creativity is put to the test, stress can take its toll on both individuals and teams.
So here’s a blog about dealing with the inevitable tension that comes with being a busy human with an active brain at a design firm working overtime.
Let’s cope with the stress!
Mental tension manifests itself in many physical ways. From stiff necks and joints and stomach aches brought on by stress eating, or forgetting to eat entirely.
As much as you feel like a brain in a jar at the moment, it’s important not to neglect your body. Stand up and stretch often to increase blood flow and pop a few joints back into place. You know you’re doing good work here, but no work is so important that you must feel compelled to sacrifice your physical well-being in the process.
Stand up, reach for the ceiling, grab your toes, run around the house. However you shake out the cobwebs, physical activity has the power to rejuvenate and pull focus.
After all, it’s not really stretching – it’s self-care.
Break It Up
When you’re staring at the next big job, don’t view it as a singular, daunting mountain you have to climb. Instead, view the mountain as a series of hills and boulders. Mentally break the larger task into smaller ones and take it apart piece by piece. By doing so, you’ll also be lowering your level of stress with regard to the project at hand.
It may seem like a silly approach, but it just about always works. Allowing your mind to focus on individual tasks contributing to a whole also allows you to relax and approach your crunch period with more clarity of vision.
This is especially helpful if you don’t perform as well under pressure.
Allowing yourself little breaks for completing tasks will give you something to strive for and look forward to. A time to breathe and refocus your energies at opportune moments will break up potential monotony and get you back to work with renewed energy.
A cup of coffee or tea and a moment of fresh air will give your busy, tired mind time to relax and prepare to conquer the next task.
And practicing healthy time-management will serve as a reminder that you are in control of your work day, in spite of the crunch you find yourself in.
We know this one can be hard, but open communication with your team is necessary. Nobody likes to admit when they need help, but sometimes, well, we do! Keeping your team close, even if you’re remote, is of paramount importance when it comes to accomplishing daunting tasks.
And reaching out for help or advice isn’t a sign of weakness. Quite the opposite. Knowing your limitations and expressing a willingness to approach challenges collectively is what a team is supposed to do!
Prioritizing and delegating tasks to the right people will ease the crunch for your firm as a whole.
Keep Tabs On You
Finally, understanding your emotions, and where they’re coming from, can be a deciding factor in whether you sink or swim during a crunch.
Impostor Syndrome is an acute feeling that you don’t belong in your current role, despite all evidence to the contrary. You’re great at your job, there’s a reason they put you there, yet you still feel like you’re faking it!
It’s important to call those negative emotions what they are: total bullshit.
If you’re finding yourself in a tougher than usual emotional place during crunch periods, take a step back and examine the underlying reasons. Most of the time, it’s just your insecurities talking.
Tough deadlines can be incredibly stressful, but they aren’t insurmountable and they definitely aren’t a reason to sacrifice your physical and emotional well-being.
Focus on what really matters, take care of yourself. Crunch times are difficult at the best of times, so developing stress management techniques is essential.
The work will still be there when you get back, but it might not feel so bad this time.