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Staying Calm Through Deadlines
By: Tom Roarty
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Any deadline can make for a stressful situation, but for creatives, it is a little different. Unlike other office jobs, where most of the work is presented and has to be dealt with in a manner to complete a particular project, a creative usually has to rely on their imagination to get them through. And, as all creatives know, the mind does not necessarily deliver what we want it to and when we need it to.
Knowing this does not make the process any easier, and one of the biggest obstacles a creative can face is the self-manifested pressure of a looming deadline, which is compounded by the thought of, “How am I going to get through this?” It is this thought alone that can assure a deadline is missed or met, but there are ways to remove the panic factor and help the flow of creativity. For me, this starts with a list.
Even if you have someone to map out your priorities for you, making your own list is a good psychological practice. In my current position, I get each individual job request in its own physical folder. I can look over at the organizer on my desk at any time of day and see a thick stack of folders, which can not only come across as intimidating, but also create a lot of unnecessary stress. By making a handwritten list as to what each of those folders represent, I can now focus on the one sheet of assignments I have to complete for the day rather than the 20 folders they are housed in.
A mistake I used to make was talking about how much work I had to other coworkers. Once you mention such a thing out loud, you give it a life, and at that point you are not only making yourself verbally aware that you have a lot of work to get through, but you are now making your coworkers get involved in a conversation that will make them aware of how much work they have as well. If you feel you have the time to break away from your list of tasks, keep the conversations light or non-work related. Taking yourself out of a project for a minute has a way of refreshing your creativity and breathing new air into a room.
Aside from making a list and keeping the mood light in the office, I believe what works best for me when it comes to staying calm through a deadline-riddled day is to keep a realistic perspective on what is expected of you. Most of the time, clients and managers understand the capabilities of their team, and although conflicting schedules may make some deadlines way rougher than others, there is rarely a task a focused mind cannot accomplish. Complete things in the order in which they are needed, rather than find solutions for all things at once — which usually never happens.


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