Keeping Calm Amidst a Flurry of Work

It’s been a pretty big month for me. At work, I’m just a researcher but my boss gave me the opportunity to act as a project manager. If you check our Twitter (@career_options) and Facebook, you can check out some of the things we did.

This was my first big shot at proving myself capable of moving up. I’ll be honest. It was a little shaky. It’s busy season and the person who usually trains the project managers is gone. I was left to work on the project independently so sometimes I would freak out a bit (okay, a lot) if it wasn’t going on track.

The day of the event was like the weight of the world was off my shoulders. I thought to myself:

“Finally. It’s over. I’ll take a few days to myself and catch-up on side projects and I’ll be right back on track.”


One day in and I get hit with another project. In fact, this is my biggest chance I have to move up in my career. It may seem small to the seasoned professional, but for all the young professionals, like myself, this is BIG! Thursday I found out that I will be going to Toronto for a presentation to renew one of our favourite clients.

Big deal? You bet.

Okay, so I only get to do 2 minutes out of 45, but still. Holy #$&^! Me and 3 important people at my firm presenting to 16 brilliant board members.

No Pressure.

In university I was a top notch presenter. I got 100% on oral presentations pretty much every time. I’ve never done a presentation worth money, whether it be $5 or $5 million…though I did do one for chocolate chip muffins from Tim Horton’s. Needless to say here that I’m a little nervous – okay, really nervous, but don’t tell my boss!

Whenever I get really nervous or frustrated my head starts to turn into a jumble. It’s hard to describe but maybe you’ve experienced it. Your head feels blurry and then so does your vision. You can’t focus or think straight and your hands get a little shaky.

This just makes everything worse because you can’t focus and get the task done. This makes you more stressed out and begins a vicious circle.

So how can I possibly break the cycle? I’m not into Yoga and I’m definitely not a believer in aromatherapy. I’ve decided I need to bring in some new tricks I’ve learned since I’ve started.

First things first, get organized! I asked a coworker to make some “To Do” lists and made sure I wrote down all my tasks. I’m pretty forgetful so writing down all the tasks at hand makes sure I don’t forget something. Also helps me see exactly what I need to do. Otherwise it’ll just be floating in my head and blowing them out of proportion. As a bonus, it feels so satisfying crossing each item off.

I normally feel like I don’t have a spare minute to take, but my coworker told me I need to always take time for away from the desk. I get an hour for lunch but if I’m busy I take 30 minutes and jump downstairs to take lunch with everybody else. It’s important to take a brain break and my coworkers will always make me laugh. I’ve gone nearly crazy sitting at my desk for a solid 9 hours. If you don’t want to talk to another human being, just go for a walk. It’s still fairly nice out.

Something I learned in University was to always expect the worst. Yup. Expect the worst. Why on Earth would you want to expect the worst case scenario? You can’t fail if you anticipate everything going wrong and prepare for all those situations. You’ll be prepared for any and every situation that could possibly arise.

The best presentation I ever made was on a concept I absolutely detested at first. My partner came up with the idea and I shot it down for a week straight. It was very controversial and I asked him hundreds of questions. Once they were all resolved, I loved it. I went into that final presentation and it was as controversial as we anticipated…but the questions had already been answered and rehearsed for when the class asked them and came out of there #1.

One word of advice, don’t go in thinking you’ll fail. If you do, you have no choice but to fail. But if you go in projecting confidence and positivity, your crowd will feel it too.

So wish me luck and keep your fingers crossed!!

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