Things are coming into Focus

It’s been a stressful few weeks for many of us here at the Tribune.

For about the last month, we’ve been working hard on our annual Focus section, which will print on April 4. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Focus, it’s a special section with a theme that changes every year. (Here’s what we did last year.) This year, we chose the theme “rising to the challenge.” We looked at different areas of the community (government, health, education, agriculture, industry, manufacturing, lifestyle, business and retail) and examined how these areas are meeting the needs of the changing demographic and economy in the west central Minnesota area.

It’s going to be a really awesome section. I haven’t read anyone else’s stories yet, but from what we discussed in our brainstorming and planning meetings, I know we’re covering a wide range of topics that have a big impact within our communities.

It was a fun project to work on, but it took a lot of work. I wrote four stories for the section. To give you a little background, for a more in-depth project like this, each story involves: finding the angle (which can be the toughest part), researching the topic, reaching out to appropriate people, scheduling interviews (sometimes lots and lots of interviews), sorting through data, interviewing everyone you contacted, reviewing your interview notes and then finally sitting down to write, trying to condense everything you now know about a subject into an appropriate length that won’t turn people off from actually reading the story that you worked so hard to finish. Then times that by four.

Whew. I think it’s safe to say that many of us now feel as tired as this little guy:

At least I do. Trying to put together an additional section as large as this one, in addition to keeping up with all of your daily responsibilities and those odd jobs that just seem to pop up every day, is tough. I also had an 8-day vacation in there somewhere, which was so worth it (I went to Hawaii!) but meant that I had to have all my stories finished a few days after I got back. I think we can all agree that an impending deadline is not exactly what you want to come back to after a vacation.

Ah, Hawaii. The land of beautiful weather and a stress-free lifestyle. I loved every minute of it!

But I know that all that extra work and stress will be worth it when the section prints next week and everyone can read all of the stories we’ve put together. I hope that you pick up a paper next Thursday and let us know what you think of this year’s Focus. It’s the second one I’ve been involved with so far, and I’m very excited to see how everything turned out.

Now in the meantime, I’m off to take a nap. :-)

How do you handle big projects at work? Do you get stressed easily? How do you deal with stress?