I was inspired to jot down these notes after a brief chat with a good friend and after receiving an email from a graphic design student. In both conversations the term “busy” was discussed. What does “busy” mean to you? By definition it means: “Engaged in activity, as work; occupied. Sustaining much activity.” I think busy gets a bad rap. I like being busy. I am more efficient when I am busy. However, it’s a fine line between being constantly engaged and being overwhelmed to the point of incapacitation. One problem I have with individuals coming out of design school is that they are unprepared for the business world. Most importantly, they lack necessary time management and business communications skills. The creative/design world is not very stressful, it’s an incredibly exciting and fun industry to be in. However, I interact with designers and directors and producers all day that should put the camera/mouse/pen/marker down and get their blood pressure checked. Why is that?

Coincidentally, I was asked this very question twice in a 48 hour period. So I thought I would jot down my thoughts:

1. Unprepared for the job & Bad habits. If you don’t have the proper management skills going into the job and If you don’t have a great* mentor assisting you in developing the proper skills to manage your routine, you will only develop bad habits. Like any habit, bad habits are hard to break. Take the necessary time to sharpen the right tools.

2. Self importance. Creatives can be divas. Most are. Being “busy” and “stressed out” and “frustrated” all the time are all signs of a great artists making “magic.” Bullshit. That’s what those creatives think and it’s incredibly childish. Unfortunately, those behaviors are passed down to interns and new hires. If you are a student/recent grad and you just witnessed the creative director have a melt down in a meeting, go with your initial gut feeling – it’s absolutely ridiculous and uncalled for. Don’t become that. I’ve been fortunate to work with some of the most brilliant creative minds in the world and one thing I have learned is: Love what you do.

3. If you have the skills required to do your job properly, but you find that your agency/studio is under-resourced. Which ultimately means that you are over worked. You have two options:
a. Quit
b. Suck it up and make it work.
Make the decision and follow through. Either way, you are in control and you are making a conscious decisions to do what YOU want.
Before going with option [a.] I recommend addressing the problem immediately, voice your concerns to the decision makers and be sure that when you bring these issues up, you have possible solutions.
If you go with [b.] congratulations, you are fighting a good fight. But know that you’ve made this commitment and your are going to stick to it. Wavering will only bring stress into your life. I could give you a few ideas to make your work day more manageable if you would like – just shoot me an email.

Those are my three [main] reasons why people in this wonderful industry are so uptight.
I wish I had more time to discuss, but I have to get back to my lists. I enjoy your emails/questions – thanks!

– duane fernandez

* Don’t settle for anything less than a great mentor. Great mentors are around, maybe not in your immediate team, but there is at least one in your organization. I promise.

[Image source: http://dod.dwell.com/]

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