It’s incredible how many resources there are to learn today. I personally find it absolutely astounding how much you can learn without leaving your home or even paying a dime – let alone the access to premium resources by anyone with an internet connection.
This article is for me as much as anyone else. It can be a bit addicting when you learn something new and want to practice it, and show it off to the world. Not only is it validating, but there is a sense of learning even more if you are sharing it with the right audience. Many tutorials or concepts you read about give a step up in your craft from just reading it. While you likely understand on a deeper level, you will really get the full value from reading when you put into practice.
I sometimes find myself getting so caught up in wanting to learn more that it becomes overwhelming. So many bookmarks, open tabs, and apps that save articles that I never really get back to. Sometimes I’ll remember I saved one that’s relevant to something I’m looking for, but otherwise I am not the best at going to read older things because there’s always a whole list of newness to read.
I have a stack of design books that often take me months to get through simply because of fragmentation of my time and focus. I’m incredibly fortunate to work on a team that encourages learning. We have a Treehouse account and are required to spend time on assigned courses to up our game. Wrapping up learning into a chunk of time and then applying it into work is not only effective, but makes work fulfilling. In turn our work is always improving.
This past week I was working on a very tedious project. I had worked on a custom, 38 icon set not long ago which needed a few custom additions for our needs. They finally got finished but I received some feedback regarding some small inconsistencies. Many of the icons I used came to me as vectors without editable strokes. Needless to say, it took a bit of pen tool and shape magic to bring it all together. The result is a stronger and more cohesive ensemble.
This project required me have to focus in order to reach our goals. I could have capped some corners and been done, but I took my time. Many people were on vacation so I knew this was the time I needed to really dig deep and finish this somewhat tedious work. It was rewarding. It allowed me to really think hard about the context of these icons and clean them up even more. I even refreshed how I was creating them and started a whole new file of artboards to reorganize everything down to the export process.
I spent the start of my week reading some of a design book I’m working through so that it wouldn’t beckon and stress me out, and then I put it aside. My commitment to focusing on this particular project without interruptions has proved to give me the push I need to not only finish the project, but take this icon set up another level. It’s coming out at a better quality that I initially thought I would reach, and I knew when I’m through I would be able to put this aside and move on to other things.
Multi tasking is super important. Most days it’s a necessity, and I try to keep others moving when I’m holding them up with a question I need to answer. But there are times where we all need to Snooze Slack, close Outlook, and just create.
If you have been in this industry any amount of time, you know that it takes lot to get work done right. It takes a lot of time to build and ship products. Nothing will push you farther ahead in your craft as doing actual work. When you focus on just your work, you will feel a sense of fulfillment that all of your content consumption can never touch. It feeds it, but the work nurtures it. Blocking out time to completely focus until a project gets done may seem obvious to some, but it’s not always the reality of how we work. I encourage you to plan projects as well as time to read, and focus. If you’re someone like myself who opens Pocket, Twitter, and Designer News first thing in the morning without thinking, stop. Or at least schedule a day in the week to do this.
I used to use Fridays to catch up on reading and learning, but I’m finding that Monday may work better for me. Try to see what works for you, and ship more. I’d love to see what you’re working on.