Dealing with emotions while working with them

At Round Feather, we engage with clients with our emotion-driven design process. We believe that emotions are at the core of what people say, do or behave.

Usually, we promise to deliver a project in 8 weeks to complete a project from scratch. We have dealt with extremely complex cases and on some occasions, some might say, been to hell and back.

An 8-week sprint is a project completed, from start to finish, in just 8 weeks. It can pose itself as gruelling work for our team, but the way we approach these projects is really what dictates how the sprint affects the team. Here is how the team manages the stress that comes with the pressure of a time constraint.


1. Acceptance is the Key

I think the trick is to, once you realize it’s going to be a long night, take your time. Take a break and fully accept the situation. Give yourself time to finish the work: you have all night if it’s needed, so there is no need to stress. Worst case it will get really late or no sleep at all and you will be very tired the next morning, but what’s the big deal? You will survive it. Afterwards, when the work is done and we go home, I feel satisfied & proud. We did it!
— Sofia van Oord, Rotterdam
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Who would’ve thought of ‘acceptance’ as the laxative that makes the process easier to digest? One of our feathers, obviously. It turns out that simply accepting and surrendering to your fate makes the thought of burning the midnight oil more endurable. Of course, you’d be naïve to stop there, because the work isn’t going to finish itself. Breaking down a major goal into smaller bite-sized goals and constantly monitoring yourself against a set time helps a few of our team members. Research has it that if you don’t feel like doing something, give it a try and do it for 5 minutes. After spending 5 minutes on it, there’s a good chance that you automatically feel like completing it. And of course, there’s the voluntary alcohol for those who’re in need of a ‘badass’ stimulus or an emotional anesthetic. We understand your need to drown your miseries, we’re not monsters.


2. Team-work averages out extreme emotions

It was the night before a mid-term presentation deadline, and we had to finalise our outputs and send them to the printer. We were with 7. Some of us had to fly early the next morning, but since I wasn’t going for the presentation, I could burn all my energy and put it into finishing the outputs. I kind of enjoy such moments. The time pressure of a deadline gives me some sort of adrenaline which allows me to work with focus & speed.
— Sofia van Oord, Rotterdam
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The best part about these sprints is that it’s rarely (never) a one-man army deal. Which means you’re going to be working with people in a team. So, whatever situation you’re in, you’re in it together. The anxiety of deliverables and pressure to perform is shared collectively, and there’s the undeniable charm in being bonded by trauma. The silver lining is that it’s the perfect opportunity to create a deeper bond with the team, and use the adrenaline that the body so kindly provides to produce high quality outputs in a short span of time. Feel free to mooch off the energy of your colleagues if needed. Here at Round Feather, we pride ourselves for having a surplus of it anyway!


3. Socializing with team-mates 

The 8 week sprint could be quite intense and be mentally and physically tiring. My go-to approach to recharge my batteries and keep up with the high-intensity is to use the weekends to do something fun with the rest of the team. It doesn’t need to be anything special, it can be as simple to go out for a walk or just to meet at home for dinner and drinks.
— Joan Maymi, Barcelona
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All work and no play makes Jack a slob without a social life. People commonly struggle with finding the right work-life balance in their daily lives. Imaginably, it doesn’t get any easier during the sprints.  We like to deal with stress by mixing things up a bit like a well tossed salad. Remember those teammates that were mentioned about a paragraph ago? Surprise! They come in handy if you want to blow off some steam too. Since you share a similar fate, you might as well want to go the extra mile and get to know your teammates on a more personal level. Nothing screams personal more than doing fun activities together. Whenever time permits, go grab some food, drinks, break a leg. Chill out together. Who knows, you might just end up going on Uber crazy adventures or discovering hip new places! And as a bonus, you get much needed respite from thinking about work.


4. Zoning out for zoning in

Sometimes, for me, stress is exponential when working with other people who work and think in different ways. By isolating myself in a room or with my headphones, I free my mind from obstacles, think straight to the challenge, and work proactively to progress on the work and lower the level of stress, which comes when getting things accomplished.
— Manuel Torres, Buenos Aires
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As some of you might’ve guessed, social adeptness is one of the few must-haves in one’s arsenal during sprint season. Some parasi.. sorry, people, thrive off the energy of other people during social or group interactions. But not everybody is created equally. Which would leave the ‘other people’ drained (by law of conservation of energy). Spending a lot of time with people (who think differently) could get a bit stressful for the liking of some. Moreover, with multiple outputs and team members, it gets hard to keep track of who is doing what, what the status of each output is, and what still needs to be done. Trying to make progress on an output with a long list of things to remember in your head is like trying to study for a test in the middle of an iron maiden concert. There’s too much going on. Understandably, you might be in need of some quality ‘me time’. A few of our feathers like to deal with this by isolating themselves for a bit and get their thoughts in place before opening themselves up to the barrage of thoughts and opinions from the world once again.


5. Eliminating redundancies

I would say having to cut out ‘the fat’—focusing on the most essential parts of the process without sacrificing quality—is the best part of the 8-week sprint. Working on short sprints like these forces you to really think through the client problem, and find the key things that will help them the most.
— Betina de Gorodo, San Diego
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Reportedly, one of the best parts about the sprints is cutting out the fat. While that may play off as a cringe-worthy metaphor in your mind, it’s actually true. During projects, a lot of actually irrelevant information disguise themselves as crucial. It’s just the innate hoarder in us that keeps us from discarding any potentially useful information. The sprints provide the team with an unparalleled opportunity to practice focusing on the most essential parts of the project without sacrificing quality. They help us to really think about the design brief and find key insights that would be most relevant to clients. The idea is to not simply scratch the surface but to delve deeper and find the hidden gems of insights. 


6. Sweat the stress away

I like to take an hour out of the day to go to the gym so I can give my mind a break from the stress of work. I think it’s important to challenge my body along with my mind so I can stay healthy and clear headed during stressful times.
— Tushita Hariharan, San Diego

Speaking of fat trimming, some of the feathers’ technique of stress release takes a more physical form. You don’t need to be a fan of the flab to fab regimen. We don’t expect everybody to be in drool-evoking Greek god bods because we’re not a modeling agency (and that would also be plain distracting). However, a little physical exercise can go a long way. Dating as far back as the Vedas in ancient India, physical health has been linked to the functions of mental health as well. There’s no question that diet and exercise can go as far as to impact productivity at work. A healthy body could mean the difference between a long, productive, work day and a short one stunted by headaches and fatigue. Free gym memberships for employees? Yes, we do.