Dealing With Setbacks

Frustrated WomanIf you’ve been in this industry for a while sooner or later you’ll come to a hiccup or worse a wall. Whether you’re a freelancer or the owner of a design firm or anywhere in between you’re not immune from the reality of circumstances and bad luck. Now some mishaps we actually can avoid, and that comes from seasoning and learning how to make good decisions early in time. There was a quote I got recently from a book I’ve been reading that really resonated with me.

Easy short-term choices lead to difficult long-term consequences, while difficult short-term choices lead to easy long-term consequences.” The Paradox Principle.

I’m here to let you know of some good ways for you to deal with those setbacks. I’m also here to tell you that you’re not alone. We’re all out there at various times of the day or night pulling our hairs out or slamming desks when things don’t work right. Until there’s an 800 number for 24 hour sympathetic support, we have each other.

#1 Walk Away

This tip is probably the most important; walk away for a few hours. When you hit a wall in development, it may not be best for you to fight your frustrations head on. More times than none the more you look at it, the more things will make even less sense. You also run the risk of double thinking some other strings of code you knew were good before but go back and tweak that in hopes that it will fix some later functions that had you messed up in the first place. Ugh! Been there before and probably will be there again. When it happens and it’s been about an hour already, just take my advice and walk away for a few hours to clear your mind. Coming back to it the next morning with a fresh mind and fresh eyes usually makes an issue stick out in such an obvious form you’ll be happy you took off.

#2 Get a Second Opinion

Get a second pair of eyes on your work. You can rub your eyes all you want but still never see clearly. And it may not be your vision, it may just be your lack of understanding or knowledge. One thing I learned early in this business is that I’m not the smartest, but if I can find others that are smarter than me to help when I need them, I’ll still win.

#3 Spend Time On Another Project

It’s never good to waste time. Especially when the weekend is fast approaching and you’ve been pulling some late nights on some deliverables. I refer back to my one-hour law; if you’ve made no progress in an hour, find another project that you know you can pick up and make steady progress on. There is a slight chance the time away working on something else may job your mind on what can help get you through your main setback. Even if there isn’t, you’ll get a sense of accomplishment at the end of your day knowing that you finished some things instead of lost 6+ hours making absolutely no headway on just one piece of work.

#4 Research and Read a Book

There is a possibility you may not know everything. I know crazy right? So why not take some time to look up your exact issue on Google? You’d be surprised at how many other people will have had the same question. While you’re searching the inter-webs why not check out a few forums like Designers Talk or FreelanceSwitch. Great places to put your questions out there and get support from other designers and developers. You can also take this time to read up on your HTML or CSS skills. Remember that bookmark you left on the second chapter of that “Build Your Own Website The Right Way Using HTML & CSS“, well why not pick that book back up and continue reading up. We’re part of a fast paced and ever-changing world so try not to get left behind in technology, otherwise you could be working much harder  or longer than you need to.

#5 Relax and Inform

For me it’s music or playing Wii with my kids. Go ahead and indulge a bit into something you enjoy to do. The work will still be there. If your project is pending, go ahead and let yourself off the hook and contact your client(s) and inform them of the setback and that you’ll need some extra time to complete it correctly. It’s key to be honest here because a mountain of other issues will arise later if you don’t. So go ahead and set that expectation to follow-up when you’re back on track, not a projected fix time/date, but a call or email when you action have it figured out and are able to move forward.

So what are your biggest or most recent frustrations in work? Do you have some other ways to handle setbacks? Let us know in the comments below.

Image credits: iStock Photo