Think about it: small business owners and entrepreneurs carry a LOT of stress on their shoulders (feel that tension? it’s stress). It might be caused by that huge pile in your inbox, or the client who keeps calling you nonstop, or that staff member slacking off again, or a project where you bit off more than you can chew… Any number of things around your workplace can make you go crazy!
As designers, we often find ourselves challenged by tricky projects or difficult demands.
Here are a few things we’ve learned to help foster a low-stress office:
- Accentuate the positive. Have a difficult new client? Focus on the word “new” – not “difficult”. You didn’t have that client before, and now they’re here, so you’ll take care of their needs – it was the promise of great service that brought them to your company.
- Breathe. Anxiety makes us take shallower breaths, so close your eyes for a few seconds and relax with some deep breathing.
- Physically remove yourself. Banging your head against a wall when the printer is broken doesn’t fix the printer! Leave the office for a short break – when you come back with a clear mind and fresh eyes you might be able to see more objectively and find a solution. And if you take a short, brisk walk during your break, those endorphins pumping through your system will put you in a better mood!
- Set boundaries. You may want to, but you can’t tackle everything or be available all the time. Make sure your clients and staff know your limits, and you won’t be overloaded. (Remember: gentle reminders at the beginning work much better than crazed emails when the deadline is looming!)
- Stick to the plan. Take control of a difficult situation by looking at your resources. If a client needs something that you can’t provide, search within your business network to see if you can partner with someone for this project. If there’s a snarl in your process, ask an innovative coworker or employee to take a look – sometimes all you need is a new set of eyes to spot things you’ve overlooked.
Getting “burned out” has a negative effect on our emotional, physical, and mental resources – it saps our creativity! And being creative has its place in all businesses (not just our design firm!), so keep your stress down. Most people see an increase in performance, productivity, and reaction time after a break – don’t push yourself too hard. Problems are solved every day, and there’s always an end in sight. When you’re passionate about what you do (like we are here at Redwood!), it’s easy to get that “tunnel vision” – but use the resources available to you and you’ll soar over stress every time.