Thoughts

Rediscovering your resting heart rate.

Dear 25 year old me,

It’s been four weeks since Mixin, one of the most exciting, rewarding, but also intense adventures of your life. After almost two weeks in Sydney and a week in Melbourne so far, the heart rate is finally coming back down to normal and you’re starting to feel like yourself again.

This pace, at your resting heart rate, is just what you needed to rediscover.

Keep reading this…

Good design, bad design. What is design even?

Dear 25 year old me,

One of the questions that I get asked regularly is, “What’s the difference between good design and bad design?”. I prefer to answer this question by first asking another question;

What do you believe design is?

Interestingly, I find that a lot of people struggle to define what they believe design actually is. In fact, dear reader, take a quick moment right now to answer it yourself! What do you think? Keep reading this…

Time management: they tell me it’s a skill

Dear 25 year old me,

In previous posts, I’ve written about the amount of projects and responsibilities that I currently have in my life and have mentioned that time management was key to any of this being at all possible.

Well actually; time management with the addition of knowing my limits.

I do juggle a lot of projects and tasks at one time, but I’m very mindful of giving each and every task the attention and care that it deserves with the time that I’ve allotted to it. Apparently, this is a skill? Some would dub it multitasking, but I’d like to think that it’s less about multitasking but more about managing time.

My tasks vary so much that it’s essential to be flexible with them and in doing so, give myself the best chance to perform (and kick goals) as best I can. Not only do I need to be in the right mindset and have different modes, I must also be able to recognise when these modes are in effect so that I can make the most of them.

I find it odd when people tell me that this is a skill that I have because it seems somewhat, ordinary… I certainly think that I can always improve my time management, but I’m happy to share some of the things that have helped me along the way so far.

I didn’t go and do a course or buy books about it; these are things that I’ve just adopted over time and they seem to work for me… Keep reading this…

Loops and venns of life, happiness and fulfilment

Dear 25 year old me,

You’re currently at yet another crossroads where you’re finding yourself limited by both time and energy. There are simply not enough hours in the day and too many people relying on you to be able to do it all and keep everyone pleased along the way. The candle is beginning to burn at both ends and before something gives, it’s time to re-assess what you will prioritise.

I know what you’re thinking. Years of experience under your belt and you should have it all figured out by now. The formula should have been well and truly worked out and life would be set. I’m afraid I’ve got news for you kiddo; it’s a never-ending process and you’ll have to continuously work at it, even to this day.

I don’t mean this in a doomsday way, though. Just remember that life keeps moving along with or without you so if you don’t stop and have a breather every now and then, you’ll just be on an express train and before you know it, you’ll have reached the end of the line without getting a chance to see or experience any of the wonderful places that you passed by.

So here’s the big question;

Are you doing what makes you happy in life?

Such a loaded question that requires context and consideration, and it assumes that you know exactly what makes you happy. Perhaps the better question is, what is happiness? Some people associate “being happy” with constant smiles or literal bounds of joy, but I see happiness as more of a completeness. A wholeness that may only be achieved when one feels fulfilled.

So the question then is, “Are you fulfilled?”.

I don’t think I’ll be able to answer that question in this post, however, we can start exploring what it all means together.

So where do we begin? Most likely the best place would be to look at where your life is at currently.

Loves: What do you love doing?
Skills: What are you good at?
Actions: What are you currently doing?

Stop. It’s hammer venn diagram time!

Venn diagram sketch

As I look at this drawing, it’s clear that this list would look very different now to perhaps 10 years ago, so don’t be alarmed if our thoughts aren’t matching, 25 year old me. These things change and develop over time, as do you.

Drawing it out in this way helps me visualise where my time is being spent and where the intersections are to get that sweet, balanced medium in the middle. We can now use this as a destination to get to and to help you focus on what you give your energy to.

This may likely be a different direction to the one that you thought you were going in.

Something else that was interesting was in the process of writing out these lists, it was easy to fill out my list of loves – my passions – however, it was incredibly difficult to add in the things that I was doing and more so, what I am good at.

As I pondered on the reason behind this, I came to the realisation that it was because the things that you do day to day and the things that you’re good at are second nature to you. You do these things without giving them much thought or concentration, so you discount that they’re skills and merely things that you’re expected to know / do / be good at.

I found myself going to write things, which to me felt menial, but in actual fact are things that not everyone else can do – particularly people who aren’t in the same industry as me. I also didn’t put things down that I don’t feel that I’m awesome at, however, I really have no scale of measurement for this; only my own hard expectations on myself.
Perhaps it’s all a classic case of imposter syndrome; discounting your value and taking your own skills for granted.

With all this reflection said and done, where to from here? Have you found the path to happiness?

Well, perhaps not the complete path to it, but at least you are re-focused with the direction that you want to head. The sweet spot in that venn pointed out three things that were in the cross section of things that you were good at, things that you loved, and things that you were currently doing. You can now make the effort to ensure that any project that you embark on from this point should include one or more of these things:

  • Creativity / being creative
  • Mentoring / teaching
  • People / being social

These can be your three guiding mantras moving forward, meaning that you can channel your time and energy towards projects that allow for them. It’s time to get picky on what you pursue, kiddo, but it’s for the best. It means that no efforts will be diluted as they are all working towards a common goal and in line with the right balance of skills-passion-action for you.

The formula seems simple; let’s see how it goes:

Doing what you love = happiness
Doing what you love + practice = skill growth
Succeeding in doing what you love = completeness
Sharing this with others = validation
Helping others succeed = fulfilment

The experiment begins.

Until next time…

Patima x

Design is just like making a tasty lasagne

Dear 25 year old me,

You had a bit of a thought the other day while trying to explain to a colleague why design thinking, and at the crux of it, design principles, really matter.

When going through a tertiary institution learning this foundation theory, it’s easy to skim over it and think “oh, that’s nice, but when can we start doing the real stuff?”.

Little do you know (or choose to accept) at the time is that having this knowledge actually forms the basis of everything you end up doing day to day, informing the decisions that you make as a designer moving forward.

I’ve categorically found so far that self taught web designers who have researched these principles as part of their learning journey and understand how to apply them generally produce higher quality work. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule but it’s few and far between.

I found it a little tricky to explain “why” this was to my colleague, so I turned to a trusty analogy to help my cause.

Architectural or automotive analogies usually work when explaining product value, but I needed something a little more creative to get my point across this time.

The answer was… Lasagne.

I’m a food fanatic and lasagne would probably have to be my favourite dish, so really, I had no choice but to use it to help form my case.

I proceeded to describe my thoughts as such;

Great design is like making a tasty lasagne.

Everyone can pretty much make lasagne, right?

Heck, you could even go down to the store and purchase a pre-made one if you really wanted to. There’s naturally the quality difference that comes with this and how tasty and memorable that lasagne is going to be will depend on a combination of the quality of the ingredients and the skills of the chef that’s making it. In addition to this, they not only need the right tools to be able to make the dish, but also be equipped with the experience in how to use them.

Some people aren’t fussy with their lasagnes, and that’s ok, but once you’ve had a really amazing one you never forget it… Am I right? <also, getting hungry>

All lasagnes firstly need a solid base. Although varying lasagnes have foundations that are built on common ingredients such as onions, garlic and tomatoes, the way in which they’re prepared (the method), makes the difference.

Once someone knows the basics to making a lasagne and understands the steps taken to make it, that’s when the magic can start to happen through creativity and experimentation. Variations of the recipe and complimenting ingredients can begin to be explored.

With that core understanding of how the various ingredients come together, the chef can be creative with their dish, making it something unique and successful.

Cooking. There are so many variations possible but only certain formulas will work. Creativity meets science?

Indeed it’s also the experienced chef who can also ‘fix’ dishes that don’t quite develop out as planned. Even if it didn’t work out, they can often still adjust the flavours to still end up with a tasty dish rather than needing to throw it out and start over.

This is the problem solving aspect of it, which to me applies to both cooking and design, and is something that can develop from an understanding of the core principles.

Like you wouldn’t need to tell an experienced chef that onions, garlic and tomatoes are ingredients that combined, prepared the right way and at the right temperature are a winning combination, you wouldn’t need to tell an experienced designer that alignment, balance, contrast, proximity and repetition applied effectively are at the core of every effective design.

Of course, there’s more to making a lasagne than the onions, garlic and tomatoes, and much the same can be said about design beyond the five principles mentioned.

Knowledge + understanding + experience = a creative and tasty recipe for design.

Now… Off to make some lasagne!

 

Until next time,
Patima x

Brief: get students excited about the web industry. Yes please!

Dear 25 year old me,

You were recently invited to speak to a group of students who were about to graduate and hop into the web industry. The brief for the talk was simple; share your perspective about the web industry, how to prepare for it, and how to stand out from the crowd as job candidates.

Talking about your love for the web industry? Yes please, you immediately think to yourself, “I could easily do this all day long.” Keep reading this…

Keep walking past or stop and help?

Dear 25 year old me,

There are some things in the world that you look at and think, “Gee, that could be done so much better”, but generally, it’s easier to just complain a little about it and then ignore it. After all, it’s someone else’s problem, right?

Well, if everyone thought like that then these kinds of things would always stay the same. Nothing would change and we’d all just continue to complain about how much things suck, but hey, that’s just “the way things are”… should they be, though? Keep reading this…

Who am I and what the hell am I doing?

Dear 25 year old me,

You’ll possibly never stop being surprised by how people perceive you. When people compliment you, it’s completely surreal. Surely, they’re talking about someone else.

You were asked this week about how you just had everything so sorted, so under control. Someone who… has it all and… has it all together?

You think, “Who is this amazing person that they’re referring to?”. They clearly can’t be talking about you, because you definitely don’t have it under control. In fact, quite the opposite. What a hot mess you are. Keep reading this…

Could you just up and leave, worry-free?

Dear 25 year old me,

Yet again, you blink and months have passed on by. It’s already mid-March and a lot has happened. It’s now time to reflect and reset before you keep forging forward.

January was a hundred percent about getting everything ready before heading off for a four week holiday in February. You find yourself doing an extra month in advance to make sure that things don’t skip a beat while you’re away. It’s times like this when you realise just how many things you’re really involved with and how many people and teams rely on you. Keep reading this…