The clock is ticking, and your design still isn’t done. We’ve all been there, but we don’t always know how to handle the pressure. Keep these tips in mind, though, and you’ll have no problem staying cool in your next deadline crunch.
Castaway Businessman by Luis Louro
There’s no need to panic. The task in front of you may seem impossible, but you can do it. Take a few minutes to relax. Breathe deeply, do some yoga, watch an adorable cat video, or do whatever helps you to unwind.
Feeling better? Good, because from here on out, it’s all business.
Pinpoint the Problem
Getting behind on a deadline isn’t always your fault, especially if you work on a team. Is everyone getting back to you with their work or approvals? Did a vendor forget to send you vital materials? Did your office lose power, or did your computer eat your files? Bad stuff sometimes happens to good designers, and pinpointing any outside source that’s keeping you from your goal will help you fix the problem.
Of course, figuring out that you’re not the problem isn’t a free pass. No client wants to hear, “It’s not my fault!” You’re the one who has to answer for the work, so you’re also the one who needs to fix the situation.
While every section and assignment on a project has its value, not everything is important. Focus on the parts of the project from most important to least important. If you don’t make it to the deadline with a perfect piece, you’ll at least have the bulk of the work done. The details can follow later, when your client has cooled down.
Work Piece by Piece
Looking at the entirety of your project can be intimidating. Instead of working on a big picture, focus on small parts. Breaking your project into smaller, manageable pieces is the best way to keep your sanity.
Another benefit of breaking your project down into pieces is that it gives you an artificial timeline, and an easy reward system. Plan an amount of time for each piece of the project. When you finish a planned part of the project, give yourself a break. If part one was given a day to complete, feel free to put down the stylus as soon as part one is done. Giving yourself some free time in your timeline will keep you from slacking off or melting down.
Move Into 24/7 Mode
If there’s no chance you’ll get a deadline extension, you’d better start burning the midnight oil. Put in the overtime in the office and place your other assignments on hold. Yes, it may be difficult, but it does more than get the project done. Your added effort shows what you’re willing to do for a client, and also reminds you of what you can complete. Just don’t let these nine-o’-clock clock-outs happen too often.
Have a Backup Plan
Despite best efforts, sometimes there just isn’t enough time to finish a project. If you can see you won’t meet the deadline, give your client or boss a heads-up. Explain the situation, apologize, and work with them to find a solution. Sure, they might not be happy, but if you’re open and professional with them, everything should work out in the end.
Do you have tips to share for working under pressure? Let us know in the comments!