Stop Going to Work

By Joe Duffy Oct 26, 2009

Designers thrive on the information available to us through this newly heightened era of connectivity. That said, information is not enough. We need inspiration to continue to stretch and truly reach our creative potential. I don’t believe that inspiration is sufficiently served up in even the most compelling office environments, nor among the most creative cultures. So we need to get out of the office. Design how you’re going to work. Dial it into the rest of your life and vice versa. Be purposeful about what you do, where you are, where you really need to be in order to be happy and productive.

What makes you happy? When do you feel most inspired? What is it that generates new ideas and fruitful energy in your life? Find those things. Nurture them. Respect them. Being someplace, like in the office, for appearances sake is futile.

When I am happy, I am more creative and more productive.

When I am productive, I feel accomplished and happy. When I’m happy, I am most creative. It’s a good, not a vicious, cycle.

Fresh ideas come from fresh minds. Fresh minds need constant and new stimulus. Sometimes it’s about escape – seeing a performance or experiencing fine art. We’re lucky in Minneapolis, I can walk down the street and take in live theater at The Guthrie or hike over to the Walker and view their latest show of contemporary art.

It could be about forcing yourself to see anew, with an open mind—like spending time with kids and remembering how to look at creative problem solving from a more innocent perspective (my granddaughter Mia taught me how to loosen up the grip on my paint brush).

It may be about finding the beauty and design inspiration in the constantly changing and renewing cycles of nature – get out and ride a bike.

We live in a world where burnout is rampant. No wonder why, when we now have the ability to be “connected” 24/7. We have to ask ourselves what we want to be connected to. There have always been workaholics but today we see many of those behaviors shunned by a new generation of people seeking greater balance in their lives. We now have the ability to blend what we do for a living, what we’re passionate about and every other facet of our lives into a much healthier/happier life – “a designed life”. I honestly can’t remember the last time I had a bright new idea while sitting at a desk.

Now that we have the ability to dial up, to log in, to upload notes and download drafts from almost anywhere, we also need to learn the power of powering off and shutting down to charge up, sometimes for a few hours, sometimes for a few weeks.

The business of design is about collaboration at its core. At times this is best accomplished face to face in an office setting. At times it will require working outside of normal office hours as we cross time zones and latitudes. It also will require the occasional all-nighter or the work-thru-weekend – it’s the rollercoaster way the business of design works. But these are all more palatable and have the potential to even be energizing if we realize the opportunities that being connected really affords us as creative business people. You shouldn’t try to achieve the “normal” 9 to 5 routine in an endeavor that is not conducive to it.

I look forward to going to the office now that I don’t consider it “going to work”. For me it’s actually the more social aspect of creating design. Because I’m not going there out of habit or for the sake of appearances, it’s just another interesting facet of everyday life and it helps keep things in balance.

Balance = happy = creative = productive. Repeat.



What others think:

  • I've enjoyed and pointed to the work and thinking of your firm since '89. Not just the work and how that translates to the marketplace, but in how you inspire your client to reach higher. It's been fun for me to watch as your company continues to not only be relevant, but likely core to your client's business. I just finished watching your Meet Duffy and Partners video for the 5th time. It's one I've shown to mt staff before with permission of Olson. Thanks.  

    Barry A. Smith Oct 30, 2009 — 9:07 am

  • This is very inspiring! Thanks for sharing :-) 

    SY Lee Nov 18, 2009 — 8:15 am

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