Design challenge hiatus and a change of plans

Some of you may have noticed that I stopped posting design challenges last week. I seriously thought I could create something extra every day for a year, but once I got to thirty, I decided to take a break.

The idea behind creating one extra design a day (I say extra because my career as a web designer also includes a bit of design each week day) was to help me flex my brain muscles and make it easier for me to be more creative at work when designing for the web.

The problem

I began to dread (okay, that’s a bit dramatic) coming home, because I’d have to sit back down at a computer for at least 30-45 minutes. And that would be for the quicker designs where I already had a quote in mind or a photo lined up. It took even longer if I had no idea what to do that day. The longest designs included illustration, which took closer to 4-5 hours.

Along with a 40 hour work week at WebSolvers, I’m also an adjunct professor teaching an online class for beginning HTML/CSS – this typically takes 3-6 hours a week, depending on the class schedule. And I was planning a wedding, making my own bouquets from scratch with paper and designing all of the signage.

I’m just not used to this amount of busyness. I tried to work through it, telling myself I was just being lazy. I figured, after getting home, I would eat dinner while working on the design challenge, then check on my class, then around 7:30-8pm I could start doing whatever I wanted! But I usually fall asleep by 9:30pm, so that left just about an hour or two of downtime / time for whatever else I needed to do. I was exhausted and cranky. No amount of sleep (I’ve still been getting 7-8 hours) was making up for the lack of un-scheduled time on my daily calendar. Something about the shrinking size of that time was eating at me.

This is what I learned about myself during these thirty days:

My brain is dumb done after about 7pm. I am probably of better use at 4am than at 7pm on a normal day. I should probably consider a change in my sleeping schedule.

Too much scheduled time makes me antsy. The fact that I couldn’t come home and just do whatever I wanted was annoying the crap out of me.

I am a jack-of-all-trades. This is something that I had always kind of thought was a bad thing. That whole, “Jack-of-all-trades, master of none” saying would play through my mind and I was all, “I want to be The Master!” I already design digital things for a living, so why not work on being a master of that?

The problem is that I like a lot of different things. I can’t quite explain how I start feeling when I devote myself solely to one thing for long periods of time. The only word that I can think of is “off”. I get the itch to write, I love to knit and crochet, I love to read, I like taking pictures, I love to play video games, I was trying to learn how to play guitar… Having blocked out another 1-3 hours a day took away from all of these other things that I like to do.

I’m coming to terms with the fact that I’ll probably never master anything completely. There are people that become passionate and gung-ho about one particular thing and then there are people like me who love to dabble, and there’s nothing wrong with either path.

All of this sounds negative towards the design challenge, but I did have fun and I loved the feeling I got being able to complete something to show the world each day. I just don’t think I can continue to do it every day. So, I will try again after the honeymoon (two weeks from now), doing only one challenge per week.

You can also expect to see more posts about other facets of my life, such as photography, knitting/crocheting, etc… along with these posts.

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