Time. Thinking and stressing about it took up a lot of my life. It increased panic and guilt ten-fold.
“What if I’m late?”
“What if this isn’t finished by X?”
“People expect this of me.”
“I need to not let people wait.”
“You (whoever you was at the time) need to do something as quick as what I would.”
“Why isn’t this done already?”
“Why is this thing taking longer than it should?”
One thing would lead to another and stress and anxiety would turn in to some undesirable traits. I’d get frustrated either with myself or someone else. Internalising it all.
The above used to happen in the past, before the last 12-18 months.
And then something changed.
You see, I’ve been quite open in the fact that I see a counsellor and I’ve been seeing one for quite some time. And whilst a lot of magic happens in those sessions, there was also magic happening on the outside.
As he and I have discussed. I like to self-mentally-medicate myself. And whilst that sounds a little odd. I give myself the capacity to think about me, the things around me and the people that mean the most to me.
Like my two beautiful daughters.
The thing that changed, was my ability to think about time. What it was, what it meant and how it made me and others feel. I realised that I seemed to always be in a rush. I always used terminology like “we’re in a rush” or “we’re going to be late” or “this needs to be done now”.
There is no peace in those three statements. And then your two little daughters in-turn pick up on the fact that they also might be in a rush. There’s no happiness in being in a rush, there’s no happiness in your life when it’s dictated by a measurement of time.
So I have a new theory and one which I’ve been living my life around for a little while now.
You will never be happy if your life is run time-bound.
The most minor of elements of stress, when caught up with others create a larger sense of discourse.
Eradicating these will increase your level of happiness.
So now, I care less about time. I care less about seconds, minutes and hours.
I do the things I need to do. I do the things that need more brain capacity when I’m feeling great. If I’m feeling tired, sad or lethargic I do the easy things.
I would rather get somewhere with enough time rather than run the last hundred yards. But even if time has gotten the best of me, I’m still not running a hundred yards. If it causes me to be ‘late’ in other peoples eyes. I’ll apologise. They’ll thank me for not adding to my stress by running that hundred yards at some point.
One of the questions I put to people is “No one died, did they?” I wish the answer is always no…
And with that, everything is now at peace again.
The changes I’ve noticed in my life have been incredible. Things get done and there is no more rushing around.
We put far too much of a focus on the measurement of time.
With all the good intentions in the world, you’re setting yourself up for a big fall if you think that thing you’re in the middle of designing is ever going to be complete.
A big shift.
Don’t get me wrong I’ve been in the same position, in the early days. Way back when we were designing static websites with just a few pages it was quite easy to work through the process of designing and building. Over the course of a year we might only have to add one or two things but probably nothing which would change the physical design of the templates we had already constructed.
We as designers no longer design websites. FACT. Whenever someone asks what I do, I generally say that I produce the DIBI Conference because avoiding answering the long drawn out answer for what I ‘really’ do is just easier. Answering ‘I design stuff’ just doesn’t cut it anymore and if the person you’re talking to is non-design and non-technical they look at your completely blank anyway. Websites are old news, they’re the 5 pager you designed for your local cleaning service. Due to the huge array of content creation systems like WordPress / ExpressionEngine / Joomla, we as designers could in essence create some templates and then let the user develop the content. That is all well and good if creating content is just what your client wants.
A website is no longer a website. It’s a business, I’d go as far as saying that 90% of websites are predominantly the main money earner in most businesses. Whether that be direct revenue like advertising, product buying or the lead in for a sale. Within every business things change, and when things change adjustments have to be made. Designers need to listen, look, analyze and improve our designs on a constant basis. Just because things might work for the first few weeks after a design has launched doesn’t mean it will in a few months.
Iteration, Iteration, Iteration…
We don’t plan, sketch, wire-frame, structure and architect for nothing. We need to listen first and act, if something needs to scale, it needs to scale! If it’s going to scale then you had better get it in your head that the design will change over due course. Iteration is key, if you’re designing and building something, get it out of the door early and sit back and watch. Analyze how users are using it, what can be made better and just because it is live don’t ever think that its done and dusted.
Tell your clients…
Clients tend to think that once they have their ‘website’, web app or system that everything is finished. They find it hard to understand that just because it is live it’s not actually finished. I’ve tried to explain this multiple times and have ended up with that cold blank stare. I’ve since figured out a much easier way to discuss why the design and development of a system is never complete and this is what I say.
You buy a brand new house, it’s very big and strong. It’s made of bricks, has a sturdy waterproof roof and you’re all ready for moving in. The removal men help you move in putting all of your worldly belongings in the right place. Two weeks later you notice some cracks appearing around the door and window frames. Not because the house is breaking, but its settling in to its foundations. Nine out of ten times these little cracks just need filled over. Over more time you’ll realise that you need a lampshade, carpets and a new colorful wall in the entrance area to the house. Your house is never finished, in the same way as your new system will never be finished.
Your design will never be complete because it was never meant to be in the first place. It can only ever be great as perfect is only ever in the future and you’re not there yet.