Building the skill of spotting when work’s done

From an interview with designer Luke Wroblewski:

What’s his secret? Data and intuition, he says, should “complement each other, not compete.” The way to put that maxim into action is to forget about aiming for some objective bulls-eye of perfection–all due apologies to Steve Jobs–and treat the act of creation as a continual learning experience that empirical research and gut instinct both inform.

“The more tangible, real-world data you drink, the more you fill your gut with the right kind of instincts,” Wroblewski says.

How do you know when a design is really done (Fast Company)

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How to spot and process insights

Advice, including

 

When we see something that looks like it might be an insight, it can be tempting to make it meaningful because it is the first thing to appear. This is helpful to be aware of when we’re trying to make sense out of a mountain of research. It’s a good idea to note what stands out to you as you make your way through the chaos but try not to figure everything out as you identify these things. Just flag it and set it aside until you’re ready to look at the nuggets together.

 

In other words, be patient.

Zen and the art of insight generation (by Kyra Aylsworth)

Changing daily routines

Good and sensible, hands-on article by Leo Babauta about changing unwanted, persistent habits, like smoking or not exercising, even though you definitely would want to. Key is to start small and move very gradually. Habits 101: essential things you should know about your everyday behavior (Fast Company)

And reminder from also Fast Company, about how willpower is something that you can build, like a muscle: Why our willpower can’t stop you from putting things off by Drake Baer.

4 productivity profiles – which are you?

Article explains three sets of actions that producing stuff consists of: Mapping, Making and Meshing. The four productivity profiles follow from possible combinations:

Mapping + Making – Meshing = Driver

Mapping + Meshing – Making = Dreamer

Meshing + Making – Mapping = Drifter

Mapping + Making + Meshing = Developer

So, if you really want to get stuff done, be a developer. Easier said than done but the article gives some guidelines (and advertises a book on the topic). Which productivity profile are you? by Todd Henry, Taxi.

Things you really should do while in University

Good list of what’s important during studies vis-a-vis future career: 7 things I wish I knew when I was still in college (Lifehacker). I agree with all the items because, for example, it seems that for graduates, university’s career support didn’t matter much but instead the network they developed during studies was highly beneficial. More general pedagogical point is the second in the list, that one should always focus on learning and more or less forget the grades. You then have to be good at evaluating your learning but in any case, employers hardly ever check your grades so why pay attention to them? The third item in the list, “Take advantages of the resources colleges offer” is in the core of university studies because, well, what else is the university but a pool of resources? But you have to be proactive. Taking advantage of the resources is a learning process itself, often in a very practical manner because you have to learn e.g. how to make use of a certain service, say, a database of academic journals. Believe it or not, very few will do that and those precious few gain a huge advantage over the rest of the students.

Build a routine, be creative

The notion that solid routine is the backbone for creativity gets mentioned nearly every day in the blogs that I’m following. The article by Jane Porter reminds about what sort of routines are good because, of course, there are tons of routines that are not particularly good for creativity, like, for example, watching television several hours a day. One of the routines is well established: don’t chase the muse, let the muse chase you! This is accomplished by showing up every day, to write, ideate, compose, whatever. The second routine gets seldom mentioned although it is a really good advice:

“According to this theory, creative people are ones who are willing and able to metaphorically buy low and sell high in the realm of ideas,” says Sternberg. When you buy low, you’re going after what is out of favor, in the hopes that it has growth potential. This means being ready to encounter resistance from others.

Daily journaling about stuff hovering between unpopular and intriguing would be a nice combination of these points.

How to cultivate a creative thinking habit, Fast Company