I just got back from my summer internship and I thought I could, you know, relax at home before the sleepless nights resume come the school year.
I have been bombarded with requests from startups, friends, school organizations to make their website, graphics, etc. And of course, I’m not really good at judging the load I take on.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love designing and coding. Sometimes, 3 hours will have past before I realized I’m still in the same seat, in front of my computer with my sketchbook on my lap. I find myself continuously lost in it.
But I really need to learn what is a good level to work at before I stress myself out.
So I’ve decided to make an action plan to follow to not only continue to pursue what I love, but also to keep my stress at a healthy level. I hope that this will help you as much as (hopefully) it will help me.
1. Set the right expectations.
Sometimes people’s views aren’t aligned. That’s when you need to make sure every one is on the same page. Company X may think that a week is enough for you to get a landing page finished, and maybe in an ideal world where each day as infinite hours you can, but Company X doesn’t know that you have other priorities. So tell them, set the right expectation. Tell them that maybe a week is enough time to get some wireframes finished and then you will take another week to get the designs done.
2. Write everything down.
Go buy a planner and write everything down. Deadlines, deliverables, etc. Not just the high level either — write down every step. So you have to finish an app design, when should wireframes be done? When should the icon images be finished? When should you give the designs to the developers? Are you going to iterate on it at some point? Right it all down.
3. Deadlines can be changed.
Yes, I guess this kind of contradicts the previous one in a sense. But, you can always cross things out. If something unexpected came up and you really need to finish it, rethink your deadline. Think of a more feasible date to set. Don’t just burn yourself out trying to finish it by the end of tomorrow (of course, if you’re this late in the game — might as well try?). Try to extend that deadline. And that goes into my next point.
Talk. Talk. Talk. Talk to your client constantly. The more communication there is, the less surprises there are. If they know that you’re running a little behind, then it wouldn’t be a shock to them when they open their email to see that you’ve asked if it was okay to turn in those deliverables the week after the original date. This will also foster a better understanding between the two parties and keep you all on the same page.
5. Do yoga.
I’m a huge hot yoga fan and I try to do it consistently. However, that consistency that I’m trying to aim for never seems to be as…well, consistent as I want it to be. That’s because just before I had planned to go to a class, I think, “I should finish this project now” and then I go back to working. That’s not the right way. You should step away from the computer, step away from your work and relax. Move around and get some exercise — it’s not only good for you but will also clear your mind for the creative thought process. It’s the one where it goes, identify the problem, immerse yourself in the problem, incubate and relax, and then eureka! Of course, I’m sure that’s not realistically how it goes, but there are some truths to it. “Incubate” and let it sit in the back of your mind while you go relax. Trust me, it will come to you.
After writing that, I think I sound pretty wise…haha. Jokes. I have much to learn. But I hope to have helped somehow to you all reading this!