How To Deal With Stress When You’re Working In Media
Some might say that using an old English wartime phrase is a little melodramatic when it comes to talking about work. Others might say that stress goes with the territory when you choose to work in the fast-paced world of the media. Those people would be right, but they probably don’t work in this crazy world, either.
Be it Journalism, Fashion, PR or one of the various other sections of today’s media whirlwind, the phrase ‘you snooze, you lose’ certainly rings true. If you’re not glued to your iPhone at all times, you’re likely to miss out, and if you’re not in the loop, then you’re not worth your salt.
To complicate things further, the sad fact is that when you’re starting out, most of your work is unpaid, so it will often feel like you’re bending over backwards for little or no reward. Unless you’ve won the lottery, you’ll also have to find time for a ‘real job’, i.e. doing something relatively mundane behind a counter 9-5. It may not be your first love, but hey, at least it pays the bills! And, if, like me, you’re still studying, a real job is your only hope of paying off your hefty loan in order to ever be able to contemplate investing in your first Mulberry.
So, along with eating, sleeping and breathing your trade, studying and fitting in a real job, you’ll also need to make time for a life. Family, friends, boyfriends: they’re all quite time consuming, too. So, that’ll leave you with a grand total of zero time to yourself and probably a headache. It’s easy to see how we can quickly become stressed, right?
In all honesty, I’ve never met anybody in the industry who isn’t at least busy all the time, if not a little stressed, too. It would take the precise organisation of a military sergeant to completely de-stress your life. And although Military chic is always up and down the catwalks, I doubt anyone has quite mastered it yet. But there are ways of structuring your life to make it as stress free as possible. Here are my tips.
In any job, organisation is key. Forgotten e-mails, unreturned phone calls and general sloppiness aren’t attractive in any area of life, especially the workplace. The easiest way to stay on top of your overflowing inbox is to respond to each e-mail as soon as you get it. It may seem time-consuming, but you’re going to have to make time for it somehow, and there’s no time like the present! Failing that, arrange your e-mails into folders within your inbox, that way, it’s less likely that e-mails will get lost amongst your swathes of ASOS mailers and voucher codes.
Organising your calendar can be a nightmare. I often feel as though my life is a jigsaw puzzle and I’m forever trying to find space to slot in time with people. The best way, I have found, to deal with this is to embrace it. So don’t just limit your diary to meetings or appointments. Schedule every shift, lunch date and phone call in your calendar to ensure that you have time for everything and avoid the dreaded double-booking palaver. Believe me; you do not want a reputation for that.
Each morning, most of us wake and automatically fumble under our pillow for our phone so that we can read our e-mails like it’s the morning news. If you can, save this habit for breakfast, or better, your commute to work. It gives your brain a chance to adjust to the day before you become bombarded with your day’s challenges.
Although it’s important to be reachable at all times if you want to stay in the loop, it’s also important to give your mind and body a break. No-body wants to have dinner opposite somebody who has one eye on their touch screen, so give your date the respect of your full attention. If you need to check something, wait until they go to the bathroom, or at least make it a sly peek under the table.
Night time is where the Technological Sundown comes into play. Give yourself half an hour before you go to sleep where you don’t engage with technology at all. Perhaps read a magazine, talk to your other half or give yourself a facial. This gives you a chance to unwind and allows you to avoid straining your eyes while you scroll through Twitter in bed (and also protects you from that awful dropping-your-phone-on-your-face moment – ouch!). Be sure to turn off your laptop, tablet and TV at source, so that your sleep isn’t subconsciously interrupted by the flickering and buzzing of modern man’s magic.
The most important thing, however, is to keep perspective on your life. Do a regular review of your priorities and, if you haven’t seen your best friend for a week, make time for her! The excuse ‘I’m too busy’ shouldn’t cut it when it comes to the important people in your life and, in the long run, you’ll be glad you pushed back that deadline for some quality face time with a loved one. That said, keep your priorities at work straight, too. Think of how much more you could get done if you used half the time you spend worrying about finishing things on actually finishing things? Perhaps get somebody else to do the coffee run a couple of times a week? That’s giving you almost an hour of your day back and you still get your caffeine fix – win, win!
And remember, if things go wrong, don’t stress about it. Calmly deal with the situation, and if it gets too much, just ask yourself: if this was my last day on earth, would I spend it doing this? If the answer is no, then it’s probably not that important!