Past design projects
I’ve believed for a long time that design isn’t an occupation – it’s a preoccupation. It’s something we think about when we’re walking the dog, taking a bath, and travelling on the bus.
Most designer’s have worked on dozens of projects, some of which are their day job, and others are pet projects done for fun.
This creates a massive mental backlog of design projects when you’ve been designing for a few years. I personally think back to projects I did 5 years ago, and think of ways I could improve them now.
I think the only way to keep this manageable is to always reach some sort of closure on a project. I won’t start a project today without knowing what it would take for me to happily leave it alone again.
This might be shipping a certain number of products, or reaching a certain development milestone. There’s nothing worse than having a backlog of loads of unfinished projects. It consumes too much mental energy, and you don’t get the reward of seeing something to completion.
I used to attend hack weekends where the intention is to build something over the course of a day or two. But I’ve stopped now, because the projects would never continue beyond those few days. I found this unbearably frustrating. If I was to do another hack weekend I would have the explicit goal of getting something shipped in those two days. No matter how simple – it would have to reach closure.
I’ve done projects in the past which were incredibly difficult to close. An example is where you have to get something manufactured and brought to market. You either get it manufactured, or you don’t. There’s no middle ground.
In this situation a strong desire for closure if what drives you to overcome the challenges in your way. Closure is a skill which every engineer and designer has to get good at, if only for their own sanity.
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