The Design Process

Consistently Inconsistent

My process is not very productive or necessarily healthy, but it does keep me on my toes. To start the cycle, I like to write and make lists on physical paper. It’s a place to dump unclear thoughts, ideas, and concepts where I can then see them in relation to each other. No matter the project, a lot of writing is always involved in the beginning. Next, I start connecting dots and elaborating on ideas until I arrive at what I think are decent concepts. Then things tend to go one of two ways, starting on the project immediately and then not touching it until it’s nearly due or doing the project all in a day or two. This is a typical process for me.

In the first scenario, I will get a lot of work done within a short amount of time. However, after that first session of working on it intensely, I will take a long break in between where I don’t do any work at all. At this point, I am almost paralyzed in overthinking everything, so I stop working on it all together. This is how I find myself in a never-ending cycle of scrambling at the last minute to make everything work out. In a way, this habit forces me to think critically and make decisions fast, but that’s just me rationalizing a bad habit.

When deadlines start approaching, I get back to work, only this time slightly more stressed. At this point, I do not allow myself time to overthink because, in most cases, the project is due very soon, and I need to do whatever I can to get it done on time. I devise a quick plan and start creating. I would consider this part of my process the flow state where there is no judgment, only work. Thoughts are flowing, quick decisions are made, and overall, things are happening fast. I end up coming up with creative solutions when I unintentionally limit my resources because of timing issues. I will stay up late into the night to finish a project because I can not allow myself to turn in an unfinished or late project. I admit that this is not a good or healthy practice, but it sometimes has its benefits.

In the second scenario, I will wait a very long time, in most cases too long, to even start brainstorming ideas for a project. This usually happens when I am not as interested in the topic of the project or I can’t seem to think of any good ideas. I typically engage in unrelated activities or projects to combat this and find that ideas come more easily. Going outside and being physically active helps the most.

I also have a strange habit of starting projects over after I am a good way into the project, typically where most people would consider it much too late to scrap everything and start over. When I get a little over halfway done with a project, that’s when something hits me, and I start to reconsider things. Most of the time, I change everything to reflect a completely new idea. Generally, the first version of the project will not resemble the second version at all. I am used to this process of working. One moment I expect to be all in on the project, almost about to finish it, and then suddenly take a left turn to do something completely different.

Overall, I wouldn’t say I have a productive studio practice. Most of the time, it is chaotic and stressful. And the procrastinator in me chooses to believe that the only time I am productive is at the very end of my process, so why not skip the unproductive parts and do it all in two days?