With only 24 hours in each day, it’s a mystery how anything gets done. Especially with the exorbitant amounts of cat videos being produced each and everyday. Instead of wearing earplugs and blindfolds and making futile attempts to design, I’ve developed a methods of improving efficiency and effectiveness in your design process.
1) STOP READING THIS
No really, stop right now, close the page, and even step away from your computer, or if mobile go ahead and completely TURN OFF your device. Spend more time looking at your sketch book, your coworkers, people at the coffee shop, friends and family, go outside, check out an antique mall even.
I know it may seem counter-intuitive to include this instruction as the first in a list, especially if I hope to up my “read” stats, but that isn’t the point of this article at all.
You have to intentionally take time to improve yourself, to improve yourself.
2) LIVE ON PURPOSE
Do what you do with intention. It’s not a mistake that you are where you are. You’ve ended up here for a reason, it’s important that you accept that, and move forward decisively.
Consider the following hypothetical: You have reached a rickety bridge. You know for a fact the bridge takes 60 seconds to cross and can only hold the weight of only a single human for exactly one minute before it collapses. Coincidently, there is a tribe of angry natives tracking you. They are exactly a minute behind you. Do you a)sit and wait to be captured, b) slowly and extremely cautiously cross the bridge, or c) cross the bridge to safety and go on living life?
If you answered A or B, chances are you are already dead or are very terrible at taking tests…But for those of you who selected C in this situation, the reason you can continue forward is because you intentionally chose to continue forward despite things looking dire.
Such is life. If we spend all of our time looking in the rear view, we will inevitably be derailed as we miss all the twists and turns that lie ahead — not to mention the beauty of the scenic views.
3) MAKE LOUD MISTAKES
No one ever enjoyed making mistakes; however, the best of us learned from them. Take Simba for example…
How do you know if you’ve made a mistake? Chances are it’s something you can learn from.
Someone once said to me, “If you are going to be a bear, be a grizzly.” In other words whatever you do — do it whole-heartedly.
I used to be so afraid of making mistakes, I wouldn’t even try things that I really wanted to be better at. It is true that if you don’t try, you can’t fail. But no famous author, musician, comedian, artist, etc. ever had that excuse. They failed until they finally succeeded.
It’s not often that story gets told. We just see the successes that someone makes and think “I wish I could be like them.” But what we haven’t seen are the terrible drawings, or heard the flat notes in the studio, or read the terrible fan fiction from our idols.
Fear of failure: Inactivity :: Repetitive failure: Progress
4) GO TO BED EXHAUSTED
We are such funny creatures and have very funny sleep habits. We sleep when we are bored, or worse — we stay up late, doing nothing but binge watching Netflix or playing candy crush.
It’s been said that the quality of sleep is much more important than the length. Researchers that have conducted polyphasic sleeping patterns have often found more benefits to far less than the 6–8 hours a night recommended by most.
The reason why their quality of sleep is so good with the polyphasic patterns is because their Circadian rhythms, or clear patterns of brain wave activity, hormone production, cell regeneration and other biological activities linked to a daily cycle, are all in a better balance than us that “binge sleep.”
They wake up refreshed, because they go to sleep exhausted.
Now, I’m not suggesting adjusting your schedule to take 2 hour naps throughout your day, nor am I saying you need 20 more hobbies to occupy your time. I’m suggesting that more days should be so full of effort that our balance is maintained by the rest we get, and that we don’t allow ourselves to be excused by the words “I’m tired.”
Wake up and do it all again. Practice, practice, practice.
Practice being a better human. Take in the morning with a better attitude than yesterday. Make something that matters today, and look forward to improving it tomorrow.
All of your effort will make sense one day.
When we grew as children, our growth was imperceptible to us and our parents, as they saw us each day. But every time we’d visit a relative they would say “You’ve got so big!”
This progress is the same with any skill that requires practice. We may not see the immediate effects of our practice, but over time, our growth will be clear and apparent to every one else.
Getting the most OUT of a day isn’t about consuming the most,
it’s about putting the most INTO everyday.
it’s about putting the most INTO everyday.
Working hard is good practice. Placing active effort into appreciating what you have experienced, and resources around you is GREAT practice. Improving as a designer/creative/human requires adequate balance of both.
• • •
Everyday we are given the choice to either improve our lives, or fall victim to complacency.
Nearly 10 years ago when I entered the design field, I was hungry to learn and better myself. I saw experienced designers suffering burnout and being ok with mediocre work, as long as their job started at 9 and ended at 5.
This made me incredibly sad. Something I was so passionate about was being taken for granted. I vowed never to be like that.
Instead of following their lead, I took steps to improve the way I viewed design, and realized creative thought could be applied to every aspect of my life. Today, I am still as hungry to learn, make, and do as I was on day 1.
Stay hungry, my friends.