15 ways to stop deadline stress from beating you down

Two design professionals reveal the best ways to beat deadline pressure.

Avoid stressful deadlines

It's heading towards the end of the day and you're not even close to finishing that all important project for that all important client. The pressure is on. The clock is ticking. Feel like panicking? Don't.

This deadline is not going to kick your ass. Not this time! Instead, grab a yourself a brew and stop for a moment. Take advantage of 10 simple steps from Effektive's creative director Greig Anderson, followed by five more from freelance graphic designer Nindya Retnasatiti. They should help you to cope with the pressure of a tight deadline – if not this one, then certainly the next...

01. Stop. Tidy your desk

Tidy desk, tidy mind

A tidy desk is a tidy mind. Tidy up your physical workspace and clear your desk of everything that you don't need in front of you at that point in time. Getting all this in order can really help focus your mind on what you're supposed to be doing.

02. Avoid e-distractions

There are lots of electronic distractions around, such as Twitter and Facebook. These are a great tools, but when you're up against it on a deadline you just have to turn them off. Sometimes I put my headphones on without having any music playing – it's a good way to internally concentrate.

03. Clear your mind

Using a task manager app can help speed up your workflow

Get things out of your head so that you can focus on the task at hand. I use the task manager app Wunderlist: it's a free app that works across your phone, iPad, Mac and so on. You can use something like this to dump everything out of your brain.

04. Energise yourself

I commute to work by bike and I find doing something physical provides a real wake-up in the morning. It also helps me switch off at the end of the day, which is really important. If you go home, jump straight onto the computer and work all night, you're not resting.

05. Take a screen break

Sometimes you need a break, however busy you are – even if it's just for five minutes. Stepping away from a screen can make all the difference – it's so important to take physical breaks, and to remember there's a world outside of your monitor.

06. Get a second opinion

Getting an outside perspective can help you realise what's working and what's not in a flash

It can help to show what you're doing to someone else – like your colleagues. It can be particularly helpful to call on people outside of the project: sometimes it just takes a fresh pair of eyes or a five-minute chat to start something in your mind.

07. Devote blocks of time to a project

Things won't always go as smoothly as your task list says - it's the nature of the job. But if I'm working on something, I'll try to dedicate the next two hours to it. I might need to deal with other things, such as client calls, but where possible I'll wait until those two hours are up.

Next page: 8 more top deadline stress tips