“What if there’s nothing wrong with you?”
– Susan Henkels
Why do I seem to work better when I’m sleep-deprived or working late at night? Defaulting to a shoulder shrug and saying, “I’m just a night owl” isn’t as satisfying as it once was. My current life doesn’t allow for me to stay up until 3am designing only to wake back up at 6am to get ready for school. It’s not healthy and although I may be proud of the result, I feel like a hot mess the next day. And I can’t objectively say for sure that my actual designs are better as a result of my nocturnal tinkering but I definitely feel more “in the flow” and excited about what I’m working on at night. When I try to work on a project from 1-6pm, it is such a struggle 😞 I fear that once I start working a more traditional schedule, I won’t enjoy my work anymore simply because I find it hard to be creative at those normal work hours. Or do I just need to become more disciplined and force myself to be creative on demand?
Attempting to answer this, I time boxed myself. I constrained my design time for 3 tasks to 30 minutes only. I wasn’t feeling super inspired by the poster ideas I was coming up with so I time boxed myself more so as an incentive to get this part of the assignment done with sooner rather than as a design hack. This created a mental environment for me that was similar to what it’s like when I’m rushing and procrastinating to finish something at the last minute – except I had peace of mind knowing I was getting my work done ahead of time. I loved that this constraint had the effect of forcing me to get creative and be a designer on demand – no feelings involved. Inspiration, but no feelings that go to dictate my work ethic.
I still don’t think the poster sketches are amazing – but that wasn’t the point. I just needed to get graphite onto paper and accomplish the task set before me. This was a really profound shift for me mentally as I realized that each day, I am responsible for my outlook on projects and managing either optimism or pessimism towards my work and process is in my hands.
For this week’s work, I decided to try out a few of the classic poster styles we referenced in class (object, Maoist, and political style?) and then sketched a few posters that were a little more random.
I was particularly inspired by the Mao poster/gold sunburst designs. I think my California brand fits with the sunny, gold, deifying vibe because I think California is often portrayed as this dream place, where certain locales are spoken of and loved with almost religious reverence. I also think the sunburst sketches were some of my better ones.
Continuing to time box and constrain my workflow (something us design students are continually told to do but don’t always implement) is a productivity tool I plan to experiment with more this week. I have a lot of design and coding tutorials/online classes I want to take but haven’t made the time to complete them because it would take me so long to get my work done that there was little margin left. I’m wondering if I’ll have a little more guilt-free time for pre-professional development if I constrain my homework time more intentionally?
Will report back on this next week.