Ebb and flow are part of the designer’s daily work cycle as is the action of starting and stopping—these all seem to be tied to the function of time.
When we enter periods where our time is limited, we generally experience an ebb requiring us to stop, assess priorities and change direction. Conversely, a surplus of time sees those macular refinements easing, work resumes, and we enter a period in which flow occurs and real progress resumes. The more efficiently we can navigate these tidal flows the more meaningfully productive we become.
I’m moving along these tidals currently—patiently floating in the deep waters, assessing my next move, and waiting to start paddling into the current. I’ve just completed two terms teaching web design and project management to 40 new designers. We’ve spent 22 weeks between both classes navigating the weird and wonderful avenues of this profession.
Running a studio and teaching design puts the onus on me to manage things in a way that doesn’t throw me into burnout, an issue I’m known to experience from time-to-time.
In my current capacity I’ll be teaching a two semester track each year that covers web design practice and project management. This type of teaching schedule is great as I can plan for and control the periods of ebb and flow—allowing me to seamlessly vacillate between teaching design and running our studio. This, of course, does put the onus on me to manage my time in a way that doesn’t throw me right into burnout mode, but a solid schedule + advance prep and thought about what is upcoming will help to alleviate that.
I thoroughly enjoy this process of spinning up when more time is available and then locking things down when time is at a premium. The process of Coming back online is really about shifting between those two spaces seamlessly. It’s taken me a long time to even start feeling remotely comfortable with this process, but through constant refinement I get better at it all the time.
How do you schedule and plan for your day, week, month, or year? Is it efficient or a disaster in the making? If you’re experiencing the later, then keep at it. Refine, test, and refine some more. Make lists, leverage your calendar, take extensive notes and design the processes that guide you through your work and life as a designer.