Solitude and Schedule - Musings
There’s something comforting about being alone. Not all the time, not even at any specific time, but at the right time. I find I do my best work at these times; when the world is turned off, and my focus is limited to that which is only within the reach of my five senses. I love that feeling of complete isolation, knowing that while the rest of the world is sleeping, I’m still here, engaged in something and completely devoid of any distractions. I’ve tried to decipher when these moods strike, and attempted to capture that essence, replicate it for mass-production and a maximization of productivity.
Unfortunately, it never works - if it did, I’d probably only work 2 days a week, at least as far as productive hours are concerned..
I try to work, for the most part, when the sun is up. Too many of my interests are “night people” things and honestly, after architecture school the whole “stay up all night drafting” thing totally lost its allure. However, design and inspiration aren’t directly proportional to the amount of work invested. Sometimes an hour of late night design is worth 3 hours of afternoon hair-pulling, and the more I’ve become attuned to this the more satisfied with my work I’ve become.
As someone whose initial instinct is “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” (#norwichforever), the hardest part for me to reconcile in regards to my work is to just let it go. Taking a few deep breaths and trying to discern whether or not I’m “feeling it” usually mean the difference between staying up another hour and coming up with something I love, or shelving it until a later time when I’m in the best mindset. Granted, if I’m up against a deadline I don’t have this luxury, but if I’ve planned right ahead of time, hopefully I’ve avoided that choice altogether.
In short, design is more about bending with the wind than standing against the storm.
The more I’ve tried to compartmentalize and structure the creative profession, the more it’s lashed out back at me demanding to be set free from any and all constraints. Architecture is not a 9 to 5 job. Sure, most firms squeeze their work into those times, but as anyone who’s sat in the back seat of a 2-door car knows, just because you can do something doesn’t mean it was supposed to be done.
I find that for me, my design ideas flow best when I free them of any scheduling constraints. Granted, this doesn’t always work with project deadlines, social life and the unexpected, but I’ve been fortunate in my career so far to have the luxury of an abnormal schedule. A disclaimer: I’ve never worked a normal schedule in my professional career. During & after school, I worked for a firm that worked four days a week and allowed me to have my dog in the office every day. I went from that to working for myself and collaborating remotely with other firms - so my experience is definitely not the norm.
That said, I love working this way. Yeah, sometimes it’s a Friday night and I’m here typing about God-only-knows what (how many glasses of wine have I had?…), but I’m a hell of a lot more productive than I would have been at 2:00pm this afternoon, when I’m glad I was rock climbing instead of trying to wring out a few hundred words for the sake of finishing “before 5pm”…whatever that signifies.