I like to call my editorial style ‘measured’.
If I present a project to my client, it has to be the most polished version it can be. This sometimes requires a little more time in the editing suite than an agency or brand typically expects, but if the end product is on the line and a bad edit can make or break the creative impact of an ad...why the rush?
Everyone in advertising, from the top of the corporate ladder down, became burnt out with pandemic and socio-cultural anxieties in 2020. As these worries led to mounting pressures at work, the trickle-down effect on creatives like myself meant completing work at increasingly faster rates, even compared to the industry’s traditional long working hours.
A harmful demand for rapid or immediate project turnarounds can hurt the quality of that project.
What had been referred to as “crunch culture”—working excessive overtime hours when deadlines loomed—quickly became a non-stop rush culture: constantly turning around projects at speedier rates because the separation between work and home had crumbled. Those who weren’t used to the overlap were often overwhelmed.
While today’s digital culture does mean audiences are hungry for content and information at an exponentially faster pace, that doesn’t mean that they are willing to sacrifice quality. The word ‘rush’ inherently comes with a negative connotation: acting impetuously or in haste, often leading to subpar results.
As with crunch culture, tackling rush culture takes a collective effort.
With editing, audiences are used to progress shots and fast turnaround times, but those don’t always yield the best outcomes. The temptation to rush in an attempt to cling to some kind of normalcy is understandable but can serve as a detriment to a high-quality end product.
Here are some ways to fight the urge to rush your work, either from your client or your own internal stress:
Recognize the need to rush for what it is: fear
Everyone who was part of the 2020 workforce, including myself, worked their 9-to-5 with an element of dread: fear of the future, fear of losing their jobs, and fear for their wellbeing. It’s satisfying to a degree to check boxes off a to-do list. Even more satisfying if you’re able to complete more tasks than you thought you could. Anything to take your mind off the ongoing chaos. But a harmful demand for rapid or immediate project turnarounds can hurt the quality of that project.
Spelling out the steps needed to complete a project, and then the span of time it takes to complete a polished product, erases confusion and creates greater space for empathy.
There is something to be said for letting go of situations you can’t control and maximizing your efforts on things you can. You can’t control the thoughts and feelings of other people, including your clients, but you can make your own boundaries or if you absolutely have no choice but to rush, seek outlets outside of work to slow down. Off the clock, I’m making a documentary about the slow life via a Catskills-based brewery, and the former Boston professionals who left behind their careers for a secluded life prioritizing community over profits. The choice is very in-tune with my own pursuit of slowing down.
Teach clients how your job really works
It’s important to remember that while you’re deeply engaged in your role every day, those you’re collaborating with don’t have the same perspective. Helping your client understand the intricacies of your day-to-day duties can help to inject vital clarity into the process. Spelling out the steps needed to complete a project, and then the span of time it takes to complete a polished product, erases confusion and creates greater space for empathy. That way, if a deadline gets bumped up, your client will understand why it’s not possible to rush the process with the same resources. As you continue acquiring jobs, it’s beneficial to make adjusted timelines and due dates clear for every project—not just for your client, but for your own work schedule.
If I present a project to my client, it has to be the most polished version it can be.
Of course, deadlines exist, and some clients have sudden projects or unexpected changes that require the all-to-familiar “rush job.” However, the pandemic maximized the pressure to perform quickly and well for already anxious employees. Working from home, two steps away from their work computer at all hours of the day (and never away from the tiny work computer living in their pockets), they felt strong pressure to fill “commute time,” or other time, with even more work. As companies furloughed personnel or downsized in other ways, those who remained tended to work longer and harder hours for fear of being next on the chopping block, and that fear spread outward. Be cognizant of your colleagues, employees, and peers’ personal anxieties.
The word ‘rush’ inherently comes with a negative connotation: acting impetuously or in haste, often leading to subpar results
As with crunch culture, tackling rush culture takes a collective effort. That said, all culture shifts started with examples set by a few. By taking tiny steps to defend your slow and steady creative approach, and emphasizing the long-term benefits of care, you can begin to set boundaries against rushing work--or better yet, delineate realistic timelines ahead of time, doing your best to prevent rush altogether. Hopefully, these lessons learned during the stresses of the pandemic can serve as a wake-up call to the workplace once doors open once again.