designing designers

designing designers

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There is a lot of information out there about how to do your design job. Whether you design space or tech or brand or something else. But what about how to be a designer?  How do we design ourselves to be the best designers we can be?

Heather Phillips of Fast Company interviewed 3 designers to get their take. Here is a synopsis of their thoughts, along with my own additions, about finding, growing and keeping your best design self present.

find your superpower

What do you bring to the project team? What’s your gift? How do you know?

  • Track your activities
    • Track what you do, when you do it, and how you feel after doing it. The tasks that leave you feeling great and energized are probably the tasks you are really good at.
  • Be clear about where you fall short
    • Don’t hide your flaws and shortcomings….flaunt them. Look for opportunities to work with people who are good at the things you are not so good at. Learn from them.
  • Talk to past clients, peers
    • Ask for a testimonial to use on a website, business card, or just to save for future needs. Other people will be able to highlight strengths that you haven’t thought of. They can define you relative to others they have worked with which will help you understand how you stand out.

create your space/day/team deliberately

Do you thrive in a chaotic environment? Are you at your creative best after lunch? On Tuesday? Is there that one team member who saps your strength? Who feeds your strength? What conditions do you need to be creative and productive?

  • Divide your time between work that feeds you and work that doesn’t
    • Set aside specific times for administrative work if that doesn’t feed your creative self. And make sure that your most creative time of day/week is set aside for creative thinking. Don’t waste it on email.
  • Know yourself and fight for what you need
    • Take time off when you need to attend to family or personal needs or just to regroup. Set a meeting schedule that works with your personality….don’t let meetings interfere with your creative time. Eat when you are hungry. Sleep when you are tired.
    • Create a workspace that works for you.
  • Be conscious about how team members affect you
    • If you are forced to work with someone who challenges you (and not in a good way), don’t let that define your place on the team. Keep in touch with team members who you work well with to maintain balance.

you are good

When negative thoughts bubble up (and they will), how do you keep them from blocking your creativity? When a project isn’t going how you’d hoped/planned/promised, what is your recourse?

  • This may be ‘imposter syndrome’, your own inner voice telling you that you are a fraud
    • Imposter syndrome burbles to the surface when you are working at the edge of your comfort zone. Embrace the opportunity and dig in…learning fosters creativity.
    • Change your posture. Really. 
  • Check yourself.
    • Are you tired? Hungry? Stressed about something outside of work? If so, fix these things first. Eat, take a walk, meditate, exercise, nap.  You are most creative when your body is functioning at its best.
  • Review a successful project in which you participated.
    • Remind yourself of your contributions….how you helped the project to succeed. What wasn’t working that you were able to correct. Make a list of what you brought to the project.

The more deliberate you can be in designing yourself as a designer, the easier it will be to overcome the obstacles that you will face. You’ve got this.

Did I miss anything? Let me know….

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