5 Ways You’re Screwing Yourself

Productivity Tips for Designers:
5 Ways You’re Screwing Yourself

No one is perfect, not even the graphic designers here at Go Media. Faults are what makes us human, after all. But there are definitely some things that we do to ourselves that we definitely don’t need to and being able to stop these thoughts or habits in their tracks will make us better designers and will help us to stop being a jerk to ourselves.

1. Procrastination

Everyone procrastinates. It’s a fact of life. But it seems that creatives procrastinate more than others, and it’s probably due to overactive imaginations. Creatives tend to dream up situations in which what they need to do will somehow go negatively. Putting it off or not doing it altogether seems like a better option than having a negative experience.

It’s difficult to give up a habit that seems to get you what you want now. Procrastination is almost like instant gratification, which is way better versus the long term satisfaction of not having a burden on your shoulders in a procrastinator’s eyes. You think, “I have a ton of time to do that. I’ll definitely be able to get this project done in the amount of time that I’ll leave myself to complete this project,” which typically, is pretty optimistic.

But what does procrastinating really get you? Stress, anxiety, loss of sleep, and you’re being a jerk to yourself. If you don’t feel like doing something and you put it off to tomorrow, it’s almost like you’re thinking that tomorrow it won’t necessarily be you that will be doing it, but someone else. You’re expecting the tomorrow you to clean up your mess, do your homework, and get that project done.

But is tomorrow you really that different from today you? Will a night of rest really be all that you need to motivate yourself to do what needs to be done?

Giving up procrastination is easier said than done, especially if you’re surrounded by other procrastinators.

Some tips:

  • Don’t give in to your own excuses, and don’t let other people help you in those excuses, either.
  • Reward yourself when you complete your task; the thing that you’re using to put off the job at hand is a good start for a reward. Or, you could even reward yourself with something from the Go Media Arsenal.
  • Change your negative thoughts with positive ones on future happenings; there’s a 50% chance of things going wrong, but there is a 50% chance of things going well, too. Why not focus on the positive thing that might happen instead of the bad?

2. Not Getting Enough Sleep

Sleeping isn’t what it used to be. Before it was a societal norm for people to have to report to a job, most people slept in intervals. People would go to sleep when the sun would go down, go through a REM cycle, wake up, maybe read a book, then go back to bed and wake with the sun. It wasn’t uncommon or seen as a problem if you didn’t sleep through the night. I’m sure many of the designers at Cleveland Design Firm Go Media do this on the weekend!

In fact, some highly creative and intelligent people didn’t even get a full 8 hours of sleep. Leonard Da Vinci followed the Uberman sleep cycle in which he would take 20 minute naps every 4 hours, equating to 2 hours of sleep per day.

But that’s not how we sleep now, and many people seem to have trouble having a restful night sleep.

It’s easy to think that you’ll catch up on sleep later. Unfortunately, that’s not how sleep works. Once you lose sleep in a 24 hour period, you don’t “catch up” on it. The effects are felt, and oversleeping won’t help you fix it. Essentially, you’re just screwing yourself out of sleep.

Some tips:

  • Go to sleep the same time every night; yes, even on the weekends, if you can. This way, you develop a healthy sleep pattern and can fall asleep around the same time every night.
  • Avoid electronics an hour before bedtime. The light from electronics can sometimes mimic morning light which forces your body to stay awake.
  • Create a habit that you only do right before bed, such as reading a certain book or doing a certain activity. Your body will start to get sleepy when you keep up the habit.

3. Talking to Yourself Negatively

You believe the things that you say to yourself, especially if you say them to yourself all the time. But do you remember where those things that you think about yourself came from? A majority of the time, you weren’t the first person to tell yourself the negative thoughts that you put in your head. There’s a difference between knowing what your faults are and actively trying to fix them, and bashing yourself down for things that probably aren’t even faults. Talking yourself down isn’t necessarily the first or healthiest step you should take in becoming a better and well-rounded person and graphic designer.

What are some of the things that you say to yourself on a regular basis? If a friend were to say those things to you as often as you said them to yourself, how long would you stay friends with them?

If we don’t want our friends to talk to us in this fashion, then why do we allow ourselves to drag us down? It probably has a lot to do with habits that we learned from adults as we were growing up, or other people’s comments that we’ve heard over the years. Either way, those negative pep talks that you give yourself aren’t making you more humble or perform better. You’re just bringing yourself undue stress and anxiety for thoughts that probably had nothing to do with you in the first place, and what a jerky thing to do to yourself.

Some tips:

  • Talk back to your negative thoughts with positive back talk. If you talk back to your thoughts, you can almost personify it into something apart from yourself. At first, it might be difficult to come up with things to say back to your negative voice, but after some practice, you’ll be able to talk it down to the point where the negative voice no longer has anything to say.
  • Be kind and generous. If you do good actions and say good things, typically, that makes you a good person. If you’re actively pursuing being a good person, negative thoughts about yourself are easier to push aside or ignore.
  • Be grateful. Instead of focusing on things that you can’t do, focus on things that you’re grateful for. With gratitude, a general sense of positivity follows. Keeping track of things that you’re grateful for can also make it easier for you to combat negative thoughts about yourself that can come your way.

4. Not Practicing Enough

You’ve heard the old adage, “Practice makes perfect.” There’s a reason that people say it, especially among creatives. If you don’t practice your craft, you’re likely to lose it, and if you’re making a career out of your creativity, it’s something you need to keep up. I’m sure you’ve also heard that to be considered an expert at something typically takes 10,000 hours or 5 years doing it full time. Luckily, that isn’t necessarily true. Psychologists haven’t actually been able to agree on broken down numbers or time spent on an activity to be considered an expert.

But, practicing does needs to be deliberate. If you’re going to practice something, you need to be sure you’re practicing the right habits, or you won’t be able to move past your current skill level. So why wouldn’t you?

Some tips:

  • Take 15 minutes a day to brush up on something you need to get better at. A quick 15 minute sketch can help you place what you need to work on.
  • Ask for some help or critique. Sometimes we just go on our merry way without getting input from others, but asking for an honest critique and being able to take that critique can open you up to things that you might not have realized you were lacking in.
  • Ask others how they practice or what they think they need improvement on. This is a good practice because people are more likely to be more honest on things they can improve upon and ways to do it than if you’re strictly asking for feedback on something you’ve done. A good place to start is with the Go Media Arsenal’s video tutorial section.

5. Not Trying New Things

A creative’s career, especially a graphic designer’s career, depends on staying current. Knowing trends, the newest tricks, the best ways to get peoples’ attention now, are all skills that we need to constantly keep updated. Along with practicing our skills, we need to learn new ones.

But it’s so easy to just come home, be lazy, go out, relax. And we all know, procrastination is easy for us creatives. Now, don’t get me wrong, relaxing is a necessary part of being healthy and happy, but, learning new skills keeps your brain young, and can help you to live longer. Learning new skills can have a huge impact on things that you don’t even realize; you can adapt to your career, help your self-confidence, decision making, and much more. So really, new skills don’t have a downside.

Some tips:

  • Read and/or watch a tutorial once a week on something you don’t know. Ohio branding company Go Media has plenty of tutorials that you should take a look at!
  • Take a class on something that you don’t know anything about. There are plenty of discount or coupon sites that can help you find classes on things such as glass blowing or even beer education.
  • Ask someone you know to teach you something that they know. It’s a great way to bond with people by creating a common interest and shows interest in them as a person. Plus, it’s free!

If you follow even some of these tips, you’ll be well on your way to stop screwing yourself.