Interesting evening seeing a friend launch a book he has a short story in and hearing some bits read out.

Workloads and Creativity

I’ve noticed over the last few weeks a distinct correlation between my ability to spend time on side projects and the amount of design work I have going on. Juggling a part time job in the Coffee House alongside running my design business makes for a distinct lack of energy to keep my side/personal projects going when things get busy. I find my motivation drops as my energy gets used up juggling the two, and it’s a source of disappointment since I know the importance of doing my own creative things on the side.

It seems to be a matter of margin or focus, I’m yet to work out which, but my gut (which is usually right) tells my it’s about focus. When I become invested in a project it dominates my mind. It becomes what I think about when I’m not really thinking and I’ve certainly become aware that this is what has been happening of late. It’s the reason I’ve started yet another side project that will operate on a schedule and is on a topic completely unrelated to any of my other side projects.

Whilst having a project sit at the top of my mind is helpful for work, it’s not always helpful for me mentally. I need to be able to create things just for the sake of creating them. It brings me a joy and satisfaction that creating for a client doesn’t always bring. Eric Liddell once said

I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast! And when I run I feel his pleasure. 

I’ve never thought about it in that way but I can certainly relate to it. Like Liddell I believe God made me for a purpose, but I know He also gave me a gift of creativity and a passion for design. When I use my gift, especially just for the sake of it and not just for my work, I feel His pleasure.

God created the world because he wanted to, because it gave him satisfaction and joy to do it (Genesis 1 v 31). He enjoyed walking in his creation and meeting with the people he created, which we learn from Genesis 3 v 9 when God goes looking for Adam & Eve. When I create something because I want to, I feel God’s pleasure because in some way I am mirroring Him and that is an incredible thing.

My God is the God of creation and He has given me the gift of creativity. When I use that gift to create I feel His pleasure and that’s why I need to firm my resolve to create for the sake of creating something because I want to create it.

It’s been a throughly pleasant day of watching sport. The Lions game, the Formula 1 qualifying and the Test Match. The only break being for a nice walk in the sun to treat myself to a flat white. #winning

Also, waiting for name servers to propagate is rubbish. Just let me start my new project idea!

Another heatwave hitting the UK, I could get used to this. Sunshine is so good for the soul. ☀️😎

Been listening to the new London Grammar album thanks to the latest @ugmonk email. Never listened to them before, absolutely top notch. Thanks for the heads up Jeff!

I’ve been using the free trial of @culturedcode’s Things 3 the last week or so. Superb app. Feels like it suits my way of thinking perfectly.

Apple are flying through this keynote, not spending much time on features they might otherwise.

Never mind the new iMac Pro, I want that wireless keyboard! I miss the number pad on my current wireless one.

Finally watching the new season of House of Cards.

Haptic Architects Teach the Benefits of the Scandinavian “Work Life Balance” ›

Work/Life balance is a thing many of us struggle with. I know when I was 100% self-employed it was the thing I struggled with most, there was always something I felt I should be doing. Whilst many people claim that doing what you love means you have a perfect work/life balance that seems far to idealistic to me. Work is work, whether we love what we do or not and we need a good balance between it and the rest of our lives.

It seems Haptic Architects have that same awareness, and so I was interested to read about the Benefits of the Scandinavian Work/Life Balance that they have implemented in their design studios. It seems a healthy approach to work and demonstrates a real awareness and care towards their employees.

Walking

Back in January 2015 when I realised I was ill, and consequently started a course of antidepressants, many people encouraged me to exercise. I had been a keen cyclist and they encouraged me to keep at it and get out on my bike as much as I could. I was told, and in fact read many times, that exercise was a great way of countering some of the symptoms of depression. My issue was that the thought of going out on my bike caused me anxiety and stress, both things which I was trying to avoid and so I dismissed the notion as not for me. Nearly two and a half years later I’m starting to understand a little of what the mysterious they were talking about.

About a month ago I moved into a new flat, one which I’m living in on my own, it’s great to have my own space again. As a consequence of that move I’ve been doing a lot more walking. It’s located in such a place that I can walk to pretty much everywhere I need to go on a regular basis. I can walk to my shifts at the coffee house, my church, a couple of supermarkets, as well as the centre of town, and I’ve been doing that as much as is practically possible. It’s become a time that I enjoy, an opportunity to pop my headphones in and listen to some music or catch up on a few podcasts.

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve begun to notice something, when I don’t get my daily walks in my mood suffers. The realisation has come home to roost this bank holiday weekend. On Saturday and Monday I didn’t really go out. I stayed home in my flat tinkering on my websites, making a few adjustments, watching some TV shows, what most people call relaxing. And it has been just that, but today I noticed the heaviness creeping in, it made me realise what effect going out for a walk has on me.

It’s not just the small amount of exercise that a brisk walk provides that I’ve missed today, it’s the intentionality of going for a walk. Instead of the day just passing by, the act of walking to work is intentional and provides an element of structure to my day. I need to schedule in the time for my walk to work otherwise I won’t get there on time letting people down. It helps that my walk to work is a pleasant one down an old railway line, that’s what’s in the photo at the top of this post, for a moment I can be lost in the wonder of looking at the trees and greenery as I walk. It provides a chance to look at God’s creation and see how the same place changes from day to day. It’s a chance to walk and listen to some new music or the latest podcasts, in my own little world that’s outside in the wider world. It’s a chance to pop the headphones out and walk listening to the birds and rustling of the trees. When the sun’s out it’s especially enjoyable, but even on a rainy day I look forward to my walk to work.

Almost by accident I’ve discovered that the act of walking to work provides me with a moment of calm. In that walk there is nothing I can do for my design business, nothing I need to do for my coffee house shift, no tweets or Instagram photos to catch up on (unless I want to walk into my fellow walkers or be run over by the many cyclists), I can just enjoy the simple act of walking.

Made some updates to my websites theme, the link posts now behave like the traditional linked list items and quotes have a style more befitting them.

Typical British weather, sunny and hot in the build up to a bank holiday weekend then wet and cooler when the weekend arrives.

Love it when the sun is shining, it always lifts my mood considerably. ☀️😎

Waking up to the horrible news from Manchester. Praying for all those effected.

The Midori Traveler’s Notebook Review ›

Being a designer I always appreciate a good notebook. They’re the places ideas are born, grow, and often die. They play a key role in the creative process, almost becoming an extension of my brain. I also enjoy a good journal, the best ones are handwritten, so a notebook often serves as both, or it works in tandem with another allowing for a bit of separation. It’s a tension which I often do battle with.

Tools & Toys recently posted a review of The Midori Traveler’s Notebook which seems like it might be a good solution to solving that tension. The expandability of it seems ideal to provide a place for ideas while designing and a place for journaling, one overall notebook with two internal notebooks. The utility seems ideal, the question is, could I give up my beloved Baron Fig Confidant?