Summer is ending — time to get back to work
Monday, August 21, 2017
August is a great month. The reason I say that is because it's the last blast for summer.
As we approach the last days of hot weather and start thinking about what lies ahead, we realize that slowing down during the summer is OK. It gives us a chance to recharge and spend time away from our desks.
My workload was getting lighter, and I was ready for a recharge during the last week in July, so I spent a week on the beach. For me is was more than a vacation — it's really a way to plan for what I will be doing the rest of the year.
It's my own personal retreat because not only am I taking time away from my daily routine and work, but I am also focusing on what I need to do to be more creative and productive when projects start getting more hectic in the fall.
The design business is known for its feast-or-famine work cycles. You are either working around the clock to get a project out the door or you are sitting around waiting for a project to start.
Summer is a slow time, but the fall is when projects start to again gain momentum. Taking the slow time during summer to really think about how you work during the busiest times helps you to see what works and what doesn't. Organizing your office or taking time off gives you an advantage to be better at managing tight project schedules more efficiently
If you think about how you work and how creativity works, you realize that it's erratic. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to be creative and efficient all the time. Utilizing your time to be at your best is always a challenge — procrastination is not only part of it, it usually helps to ignite it.
Time management and creativity are usually not compatible. Our best ideas usually come when we aren't at work. Unfortunately, creativity doesn't have an on/off switch.
Timing is everything — especially when you are in a creative profession. Using your most productive time to be creative is sometimes a challenge when you realize that our traditional 9-5 Monday-Friday work week doesn't help you be at your best.
Being self-aware of your own productivity cycle is not always an easy task. Some days we're up at the crack of dawn and are productive until late into the night, and then there are other days when we are so tired and sluggish that no amount of coffee will get us going.
As an employer, understanding these behaviors in individual employees is a benefit — especially in the design field. We're not robots, and I fear the day when design is not done by humans anymore. Our computer programs help with producing drawings and project schedules to make us more productive, but they do not generate the spark or the ideas needed to create great interior design.
That is probably the number one reason for taking time away from work — we need to understand what gives us that spark and why. It's part of understanding what it means to be human. To live and work in our world, you need to experience it. Interior design needs to focus on the human experience and how the interior space affects that experience.
This is what evidence-based design does — it gives us the evidence we need to create better interior environments by "seeing" who uses the environment and how. Taking time to be part of our world as a participant and observer gives us information; it also produces the spark to make a change for better design solutions for our clients.
We are always thinking about what we are going to design next because of what we experience. We need to experience our world, whether it is sitting in a crowded restaurant or relaxing at the beach. We all need to understand that time away is good for our souls as well as for our creativity and productivity.
If we can be creative and productive by tuning in to our own work habits and creative sparks, we can gain a better understanding of how to do it more efficiently. By taking time off to evaluate our own work habits, we gain a better understanding of what it means to be creative and productive simultaneously.
Being flexible with our schedules so that we utilize our creative time better to be more productive will only help us be less stressed out when we are desperate to make a project time schedule. Being creative is what makes us designers, and using our time effectively makes us better at producing a great project experience for clients.
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