It’s no surprise that we’re fierce advocates of protecting our time. And one of our favorite things to remind our teams is that there is no such thing as a work emergency when you work in digital marketing. (In case you need the reminder, too: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A MARKETING WORK EMERGENCY.)
Humans are humans, donors are donors, coworkers are coworkers, and clients are clients. All too often, the people around you forget to plan (or ignore your well-crafted plans) and force you into a time crunch. And as much as you try to cancel meetings and set boundaries, you aren’t the only one who can throw a wrench in your calendar.
So while, philosophically, you don’t have emergencies, practically, if you’re anything like us, you definitely have pressure.
The question, then, is what do you do in response?
What do you do when people need things and they need them now?
What do you do when it feels like you cannot take a sick day because you’ll fall too far behind?
What do you do when your to-do list has 900 competing priorities, all of which deserve attention, and most of which needed attention yesterday?
After hiding under the covers or screaming into a pillow or taking a long shower (all very cathartic, in case you were wondering…), we like to follow a few simple guidelines to deal with stressful days (weeks, months…). This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it’s a place to start on things that feel like emergencies (that aren’t really emergencies).
8 ways to respond to that “work emergency”:
- Take a deep breath. You might not get to everything. That sucks, but that’s reality. Got it? Keep breathing. You’re no good to anyone if you’re hyperventilating.
- Prioritize your list. We know everything feels like it needs to get done right this second, but if you slow down and look, that might not actually be true. What can you possibly move to a different day? Can anything go to next week? On really crazy days, we prioritize by the hour. What needs to be done before noon? Delete everything else from the morning list.
- Phone a friend. Who on your team can jump in? Call them. Right now. You do not need to be a hero, and being a hero will destroy you. You do not need to shoulder the entirety of a stressful situation on your own. This is why coworkers exist. This is why we build great teams.
- Set expectations. Are you really not going to make a deadline? Tell someone. Yes, this conversation is not going to be fun, but better to establish an honest reality than have your stakeholders assuming one thing and experiencing another.
- Eat snacks. We are firm believers that 85% of life’s challenges get better after a nap and a snack. If you have the ability to power nap for 20 minutes, do that. If not, at the very least, eat something.
- Ruthlessly eliminate unnecessary tasks. One of our team members used to produce a major conference for a client every year, and in the two weeks leading up to the event, she put a hard-core screening system on her email and phone. If you were not a direct vendor for the event, she sent you to voicemail and didn’t call you back until the event was over. Brutal. But effective. Did people get annoyed? Sure. But the priority was the priority, and everything else was…not.
- Take dance breaks. Our brains are not designed to focus all day long. In fact, our brains cannot focus all day long. Research shows that it is WAY more effective to work in spurts punctuated by true breaks than it is to “power through.” So take breaks. Blast some music. Dance. Then get back to it.
- When you hit your breaking point, stop. Listen. You matter so much more than your work. Do not let a project (even a very important project) hurt you. If you are getting sick, stop. If you cannot keep your eyes open, stop. If you feel like your mental health is teetering toward precarious places, stop. It’s not worth it. You are. Protect yourself. Be your own fiercest advocate.
We know what busy seasons feel like. We know what overwhelming days feel like. And we know that we are still learning to deal with work stress right alongside you.
We also know that cracking this nut is important because our well-being is important. We want to love our work, and that means developing a plan to handle hot mess disasters even before they arise.
What would you add to our list? What helps you get through even the most pressure-filled moments? Let us know in the comments.