I paid money for a focus course. I’m realizing that I’m already okay at blocking off time. During that time, I’m even able to pay pretty good attention to whatever I’m working on. What I need to work on, though, is picking the right thing to focus on.
I also paid money for a top performer course. With design work, one of my strengths is learning how to use design tools. It’s a hard skill. (Hard as in the opposite of soft skills, not hard as in difficult.) Hard skills can be taught in a workshop and practiced. Hard skills are the ones that you can really do deliberate practice on.
However, soft skills separate the top performers.
“Someone once said that education was knowing what to do when you don’t know.” — One of Daniel Kahneman’s students
I’ve learned that experienced designers know what to do when they don’t know. I need to focus on learning how to do this. Sometimes I don’t know the answer. I won’t find the answer no matter how well I know to work with nested symbols in Sketch.
I’ve prided myself on being able to prototype. If you have enough knowledge to know the design won’t work in the first place, there’s no need to prototype it at all. This, of course, needs to be balanced. Less you become one of those pessimists that people build prototypes for to prove wrong.
Anyway, enough about thinking about this from a design perspective.
A more general soft skill that’s important is knowing what to focus on. If I break down what I’ve blogged about before, here’s what I’ve focused on.
- Writing and posting quickly: This, of course, is another reference to writing 100 posts in 100 days. It was a useful thing to focus on. I focused on finishing. Quality took a hit, though.
- Images and text, together: When bought my iPad a few months ago, I had a goal in mind to use images and text together to explain things I was learning or describe what I’ve been up to.
- Writing drafts: I bought Ulysses and started skewing things back to writing more and drawing less. I was doing a little more revising and focusing on book notes.
- Blogging about blogging: I’m doing this literally right now. It’s tempting because it doesn’t take as much thought as writing book notes. It might also be the least valuable thing to put effort into.
The posts I enjoy looking at were made when I was being deliberate about using images and text together. I’m going to spend February narrowing down on that. Yesterday and today, I drew for a good amount of time.
There’s some value in curation. Finding a good quote in the first place has some value. I don’t need to try and fail to write some brilliant thoughts to go with it. Instead I’ll lean toward matching that good quote with a mediocre sketch and hope it’ll turn into great quotes and good illustrations.
With practice, of course.