Massive News
April 15, 2019

For the second installation on our series highlighting National Stress Awareness Month, this week we’re discussing how to avoid feeling overwhelmed and staying productive in the face of deadlines, overtime, and busy office chatter with tips from our Account Director, Brittany Breslin!

By nature of the job, PR is a career best suited for those who thrive under pressure and sometimes stressful situations.  If you enjoy solving problems or working under tight time or budget constraints, then PR can be a fantastic creative outlet. But after months – or years – of managing a full client list, constantly-changing demands and deadlines, and the occasional crisis du jour, sometimes the pressure can become a bit much to manage.

Part of your own personal development should include acknowledging when to put your head down and push through, and when to take a step back and create some head space to ensure a healthy and productive work environment. Here are some tools and techniques I rely on to help me get through a working week with a positive attitude:

“Find the Nugget”: Taking advice from a local design industry expert, I’ve made it a practice to ‘find the nugget’ when dealing with especially stressful periods. It’s easy to get bogged down in detail when you’re stressed out, but finding one positive thing about the job at hand and focusing on that can help pull you through an especially stressful day or project, whether you’re gaining valuable experience in managing a crisis, helping a client to reach their business objectives, or enabling someone to share a unique and inspiring story. This practice of forced positivity soon becomes natural and helps you to stay passionate about your job and clients.

Create Space: Working in a busy, open-plan office can become distracting for me when I’m under a deadline or managing a busy to-do list. To maintain efficiency, I use headphones and a good Spotify station or listen to the news in the background while I work. This helps me to disconnect from chatter around me and concentrate on work and also makes others think twice about interrupting my workflow.

Transition time: A busy or long day in the office can impact my mood, and I try my best to use the commute home to decompress and not take the stress home with me. A favourite way to get out of ‘work mode’ is to phone a friend or family member I haven’t spoken with for a while on the drive home. This always improves my mood and takes my mind off of work so I can enjoy my evening, avoid projecting stress onto my husband, and rest up in preparation for the next day.

When in doubt, plan: I have developed a bit of a reputation as the queen of the to-do list in our office, but I find they are the best way I can gauge if I have been productive during the day. Striking off tasks from a written list is a visual way to track your progress and helps me to compartmentalise my day, so I can concentrate on one client project at a time – unless an urgent issue comes in which needs to be dealt with immediately.

I also like to come in to work or a nearby café an hour or so early to give plenty of time to plan my day, wake up with a coffee, and ease my way in to the day rather than experiencing a sudden shock at 9 when the day ‘officially’ begins!

Delegate: Delegation has not come easy to me. My favourite parts of PR have always been the writing and ‘creative’ elements which are often associated with Executive roles. Giving away these parts of the job to move toward a more management-focused position has been a challenge; it has taken time for me to realise that delegation does not necessarily mean I’m not capable of doing a job, but is simply freeing my time up to focus on other areas of the client account. Since making a conscious effort to delegate more to our highly capable team, I have realised that the pressure has certainly lifted and I am able to better pick and choose activities to focus my time on and recognise what would be more efficient when shared with the rest of the team. Delegation has also helped develop a more collaborative approach on client accounts, meaning more creativity and perspectives are brought to a project – a win for our clients, too!

If you are feeling the effects of stress at work, it’s important to take steps sooner rather than later to adjust your environment – or reactions to it – in order to preserve your positive mental health and avoid workplace burn-out.