I'm one of those people who constantly have something to do. Whether it's a client project, a personal project, or just something I'm learning, there's rarely a moment where I'm bored or without something to do.
Some people may not like this practice, but for me, it's perfect. I can't stand being bored and staying active makes my brain work smarter. Here are a few tricks I use that help me keep in constant motion:
Keep a to-do list.
If you haven't already guessed this from past posts, I'm a huge fan of lists. I keep them for everything, but to-do lists are my first love. I use them for prioritization, to get things out of my head and onto paper, and to just help make sure everything gets done. One of the best things, though, is the flexibility. I can write them down by hand, type them out on my computer, or (my personal favorite) keep track of them in the Action Method Online. Best $10 a month I've ever spent!
Write lists about random things.
This might sound strange, but I'm notorious for just keeping lists of random things. It keeps me creative and always thinking. Once in a while, they spawn new ideas, but more often than not, they're just used for self-reflection. Sometimes these lists are design related, sometimes not. Some of my favorite lists include:
- What are some things that I like that are not design related?
- How can I improve my goal setting process?
- What are my current business expenses? Which ones are unnecessary?
- What business-related topics do I want to focus on this year?
- Who is my ideal client?
- How can I make more money?
- How can I better schedule my week?
Always have a personal project.
I can't emphasize this point enough. Most designers will agree with me - personal projects are the way to go. They'll keep you active and updated in the industry, as well as (hopefully) help get you in contact with out designers or developers. So many of the apps and projects that I love started out as personal projects.
Read everything you can get your hands on.
I collect books obsessively, both physical books and e-books. I read blogs on a regular basis and use RSS feeds to keep track of them. I browse Twitter constantly and have started referring to Facebook more and more. The more knowledge I gather, the more I love this industry.
Meet with your peers on a regular basis.
I adore meeting with my fellow designer, Jessica Rau, every week. Why, you ask? Firstly, this eats up an entire afternoon every Thursday. Secondly, we also do a mini-book club session, where we read industry-related books and then share our notes each week on the chapters we were supposed to read. Thirdly, we assign ourselves homework, usually relating to the book, but sometimes research related, too. Finally, it's a great opportunity to bounce ideas off of each other, to vent about frustrating client experiences, and to work on new and exciting personal projects together.
It's really quite simple, I think, but it's a hard accomplishment for most people - myself included. It takes an incredible amount of discipline and determination to stay constantly active, but I wouldn't change it for the world.