Five Tips for Handling High-Pressure Situations

By Donna Farrugia, Executive Director of The Creative Group

Football fan or not, if you’re like most folks, you tune in for the Super Bowl to catch the commercials. I’ll admit I get sucked into all the buzz about which ads will flop and which will go viral. Creative folks, especially, can be the hardest critics – but also the ones who can appreciate a really well-done campaign, since many know what it’s like to put one together, albeit on a much smaller scale (and, for some, thankfully so).

When we asked corporate marketing executives how they would feel about working on a Super Bowl ad, six in 10 respondents said they’d jump at the chance to tackle such a high-profile campaign. But one in 10 respondents said they’d be overwhelmed by all the work involved; another 12 percent said they’d be nervous about the outcome.

Whether it’s a Super Bowl TV spot or website redesign, all in-house professionals face high-pressure situations, particularly at companies operating on tight budgets and lean staff levels. Now more than ever, on-the-job success depends on your ability to show grace under fire. Here are five tips to help you handle these situations:

  1. Prioritize, then strategize. Take some time to develop a game plan before diving headfirst into any project. This forethought can help you sidestep potential hurdles.
  2. Don’t delay. Worrying about a task doesn’t count as working on it. Rather than putting off your most pressing deadlines, address them. Getting these assignments out of the way first will lower your stress level and make your overall goal seem more manageable.
  3. Break it up. Take short breaks to relieve crunch-time tension. Go for a walk or engage in a little stimulating conversation with your colleagues. If you can’t leave your workstation, close your eyes, take deep breaths and try to clear your head for a few moments.
  4. Request more coverage. Some jobs simply can’t be completed by one person, even if you are a star performer. If you’re doing everything possible to meet your obligations and still see no end in sight, identify duties that can be delegated and ask for backup.
  5. Stay cool. Even the most upbeat and well-mannered professionals can become flustered and temperamental when under stress. Don’t contribute to the tense atmosphere. Although it’s not always easy, take criticism with a grain of salt on hectic days. Think before speaking and don’t let anyone else’s poor attitude affect your own.

Donna Farrugia is executive director of The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service placing interactive, design and marketing professionals with a variety of firms. More information, including online job-hunting services, candidate portfolios and The Creative Group’s award-winning career magazine, can be found at