Holiday in flight mode? Of course!

Holiday in flight mode? Of course!

As I am off on holiday I thought I’d take a break from my latest topic on creativity and efficiency to discuss time off.

Last night during a dinner party we got onto the topic of switching off from work when on holiday. There was a resounding ‘NO’ to taking client calls and checking emails during family holidays. It’s great when we work in a world where that is possible and most employers expect us to switch off when we book time off. Even more super is when employers provide a system to ‘handover’ work to another colleague while you are away. It certainly takes the pressure off and allows you to slowly unwind for a week.

So, how do you slowly unwind? What does the absence of work allow you to do? On holiday that is super easy to answer: explore new place X, lay on beach, read book, entertain kids, sleep more, eat new and interesting things etc. But what about at home? What does the absence of work look like mid-week or at the weekends?

For some it doesn’t even exist. Work is still happening, in our heads, on our phones and laptops, even ‘life admin’ is work, all the time. Being told that’s bad and you should stop working once and awhile isn’t enough anymore – most of us have stopped knowing what to do when work stops, apart from sleep or watch box sets.

What does it take to restore some balance to life and really rest regularly? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts…

My first thought is to sit in a room alone.




Define: Contingency

Define: Contingency

If you speak to a designer contingency means ‘lying about the deadline to make me work faster’. For bank managers and insurance brokers it’s hoarding cash for another crash. But what does it mean for those of us who want to make effective use of our time, no matter what our business?

It’s a familiar practice to build in contingency to large scale projects to ensure it’s delivered on time and on budget even when unforeseen issues arise but have you ever thought about building in contingency for your own personal goals and deliverables at work?

Some designers, developers and project managers I’ve worked with in the past have been brilliant at this: They consider the tasks they need to do and how long it will likely take them in normal circumstances and then estimate effort slightly longer/pricier than this.

It can feel dishonest when you are on the receiving end of an estimate which has been ‘padded out’ with contingency but you may need to ask yourself: “Is it wrong to plan for the worst case scenario?” In my experience, the worst case scenario is very likely to happen!

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this.

Can Creativity and Efficiency be Happily Married?

Can Creativity and Efficiency be Happily Married?

I hope you enjoyed the procrastination theme we explored during the spring. With a change in season comes a change in topic; for Summer I have chosen the relationship between creativity and efficiency. I’ve never worked in a creative environment where this relationship hasn’t been a challenge. It’s the age-old ad-world battle between the suit and the CD:

CD: “Fuck off Mr. Suit, leave me to my ideas, creativity takes time”

Suit: “We don’t have time! The client is waiting, this deadline is scary and big and you are wasting time!”

Is there a solution? YES! Can the suit and the CD live happily ever after? YES! How?

You may have noticed I categorised this post under ‘Heroes’. That’s because it’s about my biggest hero, he’s currently unpublished so you won’t have heard of him, his name is Alastair Duckworth, he’s my husband *shy cough*. His creative philosophy has informed my management of suits and CDs probably more than anything. For all my palpitations over efficiency/productivity/time management I am able to love, appreciate and defend the creative process because of this 1 simple rule he has patiently taught me: TENSION: Where you find two opposing forces there you find life.

So who wins the fight between creativity and efficiency? No-body and everybody: if you are fighting, you are winning. You lose when one side stops fighting and tension stops existing.

Relish the fight and do good work on time.

“Marriage is a duel to the death which no man of honour should decline.” G.K. Chesterton

[Photograph credit: Ed Pugh 2008]