How Getting Passionate About The Small Jobs Changed My Life

How Getting Passionate About The Small Jobs Changed My Life

How Getting Passionate About The Small Jobs Changed My Life

There are always a certain number of ‘bread and butter’ jobs in graphic design. The sort that may not be the most exciting, but they keep the lights on.

When you get your first job as a *professional*, you are excited to be given anything at all to work on. Everything’s new, and thrilling, and you haven’t done the same bread and butter job a thousand times yet. It’s enough to just be designing something.

Over time this becomes boring.

Because that’s the way with all things. But also because the learning stops and the curious mind always seeks new challenges. And the worst thing about studio work is you get pigeonholed – the more you do of one thing, the more of it your are asked to do. Which becomes repetitive.

And then there’s ambition – the ambition to work on big budget, high-spec jobs. That plays a part too.

A couple of years ago, I had a revelation that hit me with great force. I realised that the jobs were only as exciting as I made them.

Then I realised that although there will always be some jobs that won’t end up the way I would like them because of reasons outside my control, a lot of what I was doing was ending up sub-par because I wasn’t trying hard enough. I was seeing them as small jobs. As low budget jobs. As jobs constrained by strict corporate style guides or without much scope for innovation. I had pigeonholed the work.

I waited for those jobs with bigger budgets, higher profiles or better briefs to really cut loose. And those don’t come along very often – why was I waiting until they do to have fun?

But I also realised something else apart from the effect on my own personal enjoyment of my work.

I realised it with horror.

This lack of excitement about the straightforward jobs meant I wasn’t actually doing my job properly. Is not the job of a graphic designer to communicate, innovate and beautify ALL projects? Not just the exciting ones? It was time to change.

As soon as I shifted this paradigm, my working life changed dramatically. I saw new opportunities to improve regular jobs I had been working on for years. I found ways to better interpret those strict style guides. I searched for the ideas that would make the simplest jobs sing. And I pushed myself a bit harder to create a few more concepts, instead of sending out the ones I wasn’t entirely happy with.

I made one simple change to my thinking, and it made a world of difference to my work and my enjoyment of it.

Now I don’t wait for my dream jobs to get excited – instead I make every job my dream job. Just like it was when I started.

That feeling of magic I used to feel is back, and I can’t wait to get started on each new job. I do better work and take more pride in it. And I innovate and learn every day with ease and a ravenous hunger for more. Just like being a student again… but with the benefit of experience.

This is as good as it gets.

 

#mybestlife #letsgetcreative #ilovedesign #creativeforthepeople #powdermonkeydesign

10 Ways to Avoid Procrastination

10 Ways to Avoid Procrastination

10 Ways to Avoid Procrastination

How to set and achieve goals like a total boss!

There’s no denying it – self-motivation is one of the hardest parts of running your own business. With no one to crack the whip, it can be really easy to fall into a procrastination black hole… and once you’re in that hole it can be damn hard to climb back out.

For the last 7 years I have been working as a freelance graphic designer. Before that I had a job that required me to work remotely most of the time. And before that I had a full time day job and taught at TAFE at night – which meant a whole bunch of after hours work writing lesson plans and marking. So while self-motivation might not have been something I was born with, it is definitely something I have needed throughout my career.

So what do you do when you need to get stuff done but instead you’re just stuffing around? This is my method for fighting the faff.

1. Make a list.

Everyone knows that, right? That’s because it is absolutely the only place to start if you’re dealing with a procrastination problem. Know what needs to be done and you have an idea of the scale of the job at hand. Now, if you are a serial putter-offer, this can be the point where it all gets a bit much and you hit Netflix instead. But push on – it gets better from here, I promise.

2. Break it down.

Sometimes knowing the scale of the job feels like a part of the problem, I get that. But the remote is safely stashed on the coffee table and you made it to step 2 – so the hardest part is behind you! Now take your to-do list and break it down into separate tasks – and be specific. Look at each item on your list and work out what things need to happen before that item can be ticked off.

3. Prioritise tasks.

Yeah, I know, I just added even more things to your to-do list. But they don’t all have to be done in the next 5 minutes, so you will definitely have time to check Facebook later and go to your kid’s assembly, it’s all good. Take a look at the tasks on your list and prioritise them. Start by working out which tasks are deadline based – do these first. Then identify the high value tasks – anything that will make you money. If you can bill for it or sell it, make it a priority. If it will save you money, make it a priority. If it needs doing but isn’t time sensitive or billable, it can go further down the list.

This is the key right here. A list of goals is absolutely nothing without deadlines. They are the difference between the ‘gunnah’ and the doer. And make your deadlines realistic – don’t set yourself up to fail! Breaking your list down into actionable tasks helps heaps with this, allowing you to make estimates on how long it will take you to achieve each part of the goal. Prioritising your tasks helps you here too, because you can identify any tasks that rely on the completion of other tasks before they can happen. Now you are goal setting like a total boss!

5. Start.

Just start. Work out where to start – and push yourself to take the first step. Once you’re on your way, it all gets that little bit easier, and one you start ticking things off that list, it gets better still!

6. Say it out loud.

Loud and proud! Talking about your tasks is a great way of affirming your goals, and it’s also a surprisingly good way to keep yourself on track. As long as you actually work on your tasks – no one wants to be that ‘all talk no action’ guy!

7. Team up!

If you need to. When getting started is proving just all too hard, use your network. Not necessarily by outsourcing your tasks, but more as a support base. Just talking to a trusted friend or colleague about your goals can be a fantastic motivator, but you might also find you score loads of helpful advice while you’re at it! If you find your own circle lacking in other business people to talk to, there are a myriad of online groups providing support and advice for small business owners.

8. Don’t wait for things to be perfect.

Analysis paralysis can kill off even the most carefully crafted to-do list, and be just as damaging as jumping in too soon. Things will evolve and change as you build your business, with lessons learned and roads travelled all playing their part in plotting your course. Leave room for this evolution. Just begin and the rest will come.

9. Review regularly.

Check in with your to-do list regularly. Let it know you care. Often we make a bold start and then shift our goals to the back burner… permanently. Priorities change, deadlines get shifted and new tasks arise all the time – and so the list must adapt. Adding a review of your to-do list to your calendar at regular intervals – for example every quarter – is a great way to keep the goals from getting dusty.

10. Reward yourself.

Why not? Achieved a goal? Completed a task? Knocked the whole list off? Congratulate yourself, you did it! Kick back, find that remote, and revel in the power of procrastination elimination!

 

#microbusinesslegends #sureshot #smallbusiness #goalsetting #creativeforthepeople #powdermonkeydesign

7 Ways to Find Creative Inspiration

7 Ways to Find Creative Inspiration

7 Ways to Find Creative Inspiration

The situation all creative professionals dread…

This week I have been suffering from a touch of the dreaded creative block. Not – thankfully – the crippling ‘complete and utter’ type that stops you in your creative tracks. But a struggle with one particular creative problem, a design for a flyer. It’s the kind of situation all creative professionals dread, and yet it is inevitable when art is made to order in a commercial setting.
 
To try and push past this problem, I began working through my methods for finding creative inspiration – and that inspired me to share them with you! Over the years these 7 strategies have helped me out of more than one creative jam, and they definitely helped get my flyer project back on track.
 

1. Scope out some art

Pretty obvious. But beyond looking at other examples from your own field try looking at examples of other creative disciplines – fine art, fashion, visual merchandising, photography and graphic design can all provide amazing cross-discipline inspiration. No time to head out and hit the galleries? A quick half hour on Pinterest might just do the job.
 

2. Get back to nature

Not only is nature inspiring for its beauty, but being immersed in a natural environment and taking the time to study what you see there – really see what you are looking at – is an excellent mindfulness technique that can help cut through the pressure of the deadline.
 

3. Sleep on it

If you can, take a step back from the creative problem you are trying to solve and let it hover at the back of your consciousness while you go about your day. Giving ideas the chance to arrive organically is always a nice way to start the creative process, when time allows. This one is my go-to for all projects!
 

4. Do something else

Doing something physical like going for a walk, exercising, pulling weeds or cleaning is a great way to clear the creative cobwebs. Just not for too long… because then it becomes procrastination!
 

5. Blind contour drawings


This is the kind of exercise you do when you take a drawing or painting class, and it’s also a fantastic stress buster
. But drawing something from life using one continuous line, and without looking at your page is also a fantastic way to free your brain and get the creative juices flowing. This is one I did this week while wrestling with creative block, and it’s really interesting to see how the line weight and style changes as I start to relax into it. It was a really useful exercise, and at the end of it I was able to scribble a concept for my flyer on the back.
 

6. Change up your concepting strategy

Do you prefer to thumbnail on paper? Maybe it’s time to fire up the computer. Mired down in a digital wasteland? Why not break out the pencils? Sometime you just gotta change it up a bit to get things moving, and it could be as simple as switching from a pencil to a felt tip. You never know!
 

7. Work on another creative project

Working on another project within the same discipline can sometimes move things along. I find nailing another project can be a great boost! But if you find yourself totally blocked, you can try flexing your creative muscles in a totally different field – painting, sculpting, crafting, writing, cooking, singing or playing an instrument – whatever your bag is. But again… not for too long! Set a timer so you don’t fall into the procrastination zone.
 
When inspiration proves elusive it can leave you chasing your own tail. The lack of ideas can cause so much stress that you end up even further away from the right state of mind for creative thinking. These are my sure-fire ways of battling the block – but what’s your favourite strategy for finding lost inspiration? Let me know in the comments section.
 
In the meantime – happy creating!

#designneversleeps #graphicdesign #inspo #justcreate #inspiration #creativeblock #blindcontour #creativeforthepeople #powdermonkeydesign