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  • Writer's pictureedwardjamescoco

When time seems to crawl. . .

It's November - Happy Thanksgiving everyone! The holidays are right around the corner. Soon most of us will be busy making plans, visiting relatives, travelling far more than we'd like to, and stressing over buying gifts. Holiday joy!

Of course with the holidays comes the usual work-slowdown in this industry. While there are always projects happening, when you're dealing with corporate clients you're also dealing with the corporate holidays schedules. I've been on both sides of this, so I understand intimately. This is the time of the year when you can never really tell when anyone is going to be around on any given day. So it becomes harder to hold meetings, get feedback, attain assets, and fulfill approvals. Work just generally slows down, and that can be fine. But it can also be painful.

For me it's painful. I've never had the personality for taking breaks and slowing down. It's something my former managers always tried to work on with me. It's something a former graduate professor of mine referred to as "Midwest Work Ethic". I think he was comparing it to a farmer who wakes up every day at the same time to complete his standard round of chores. I grew up in the city of St. Louis but I think he often imagined that, since I was from Midwest, I must have had some kind of farming background at some point.

While my upbringing is certainly a factor, I also blame a portion of my conditioning on my time as a freelancer in New York. When you're a freelancer down-time means you aren't getting paid. So you're scooping up every project possible, and taking breaks as seldom as you can afford. You become susceptible to a false perception that if you take a break you'll be "out of the game" and the people who hired you in the past will move on to someone else. It's a very hard mindset to break. When I advanced from the freelance world into a staff position it was still hard to think of down-time as something other than negative. I would search desperately for other things to keep me occupied. I frequently had several side-projects, such as teaching, that were useful for keeping my brain active.

Marriage has helped that a little, and having a baby has definitely put a dent in anything that I would consider down-time. Yet when I'm at work/in the office and these holiday seasons begin to slow down my processes I still get incredibly impatient. I go through my usual list of ongoing tasks; cleaning my computer, upgrading/improving my tools and resources, honing new skills, reading up on current trends/practices, following up with old friends and contact, organizing anything I can get my hands on. . . . there's plenty to do. But in my head there's a design project I should be developing. There's something new I should be designing. If I'm not working on something new I feel a bit unfulfilled in some way.

I can't say I have a solution. Sorry! I hope you weren't reading this for a big conclusion where I reveal the answer to this dilemma. Perhaps writing blog entries like this is a way of feeling better? Sure. Not a complete solution, but perhaps a piece of a bigger puzzle. I've also been working on 3d models of the repeat venues where I design. (Which is what you're seeing in these blog images.) Personally, I'm just happy that I can now recognize the source of a lot of my anxiety these days. These periods used to really destroy me when I was younger. I just couldn't figure out what was going on. As with most things, acknowledging the source of the issue is the first step in developing an approach to dealing with that issue.

I hope your holidays are spent with friends and family. . . and not thinking about work and new projects. As usual, I will vow to try and do the same.

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