Thursday, March 27, 2014

My Potential (03/28/14)

I am particularly interested in Chapter Two,”Building Expertise”, in 99 U's Maximize Your Potential. As a student who is about to graduate with a degree in IDD I think this advice is important to keep in mind as I try to start and build a career.

Many people I would imagine have at some time in their life felt like everyone in the room is more talented than they are. I know that I have felt it. It is can be a discouraging feeling and it requires that inner voice to tell yourself “it is fine, just keep on trying”. Heidi Grant Halvorson speaks to this feeling. She stresses the importance of always trying to get better not just settling on being good. Critiques and evaluations are a part of the business. Taking the critiques and evaluations and learning from them will only help you to get better and to increase your skill level.

Advice from Halvorson to keep in mind.

  1. Give yourself permission to screw up. Mistakes are a part of the process. Halvorson points out that for many if you focus on getting better as opposed to being good you are actually less likely to make mistakes in the long run.
  2. To not be afraid to ask for help. It is foolish to think that you do not need help. Asking for help shows a level of capability.
  3. Compare yourself to yourself. This I think is the best piece of advice and probably the hardest for people to do. Instead of comparing your work  to others compare your work to your earlier work. Strive to develop and improve your skills.
  4. Think in terms of progress, not perfection. Write down your goals. Re-think them in terms of getting better as opposed to being good.
  5. Examine your beliefs, and  when necessary, challenge them. Always keep in mind that real improvement is always possible. Halvorson writes, “When it comes to mastering any skill, your experience, effort and persistence matters a lot”. p.81

More advice I took from Chapter Two revolved around work habits. Tony Schwartz writes that from studying the science of high performance he has learned that working in sprints of 90 minutes than taking a break is best for developing mastery skills. He also suggests that the morning is the time for projects that take the greatest amount of creativity and that four and a half hours is the maximum time to devote to an activity to achieve high performance.  Sleep is vital and listening to the body is important. He suggests developing a personal ritual when it comes to work habits. He writes, “Mastery is about regularly pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone, while also learning how to deeply restore and take care of yourself.”p90.   Joshua Foer advises to push yourself out of your comfort zone.The ok plateau is not a good place to land and it requires a state of constant learning to avoid it. Just like the examples of the mastery musician or the expert ice skater, Foer reminds to keep practicing, particularly the skills that I find the hardest to do.
Another suggestion I got from Chapter Two is  keeping a diary. I would never in million years think I would keep a diary. However, Teresa Amabile, Steven Kramer and Ela Ben-Ur make a very convincing argument that keeping a diary is a great motivator. A diary is a great sounding board, a good record of what you have done and have accomplished as well as a great way to  keep in mind what still needs to be done. Looking back on your accomplishments and even failures is a way to learn and a way to motivate. It tracks your progress and gives you new ideas of how to go forward. After reading this part of the chapter I more than ever see the benefits of using a diary.

So now that I have read Chapter Two I feel more confident that I can do this. First thing is to work on my comps for the website. I admit I was disappointed after last class’ critique that they still needed improvement. But I feel better about it now.

Works Cited

Glei, Jocelyn K., ed. Grow Your Expertise, Take Bold Risks & Build An Incredible Career. Las Vegas: Amazon, 2013. Print.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Time Consumption (03/21/14)

This week I did some reading in the book, Manage Your Day-To-Day:Build Your Routine Find Your Focus & Sharpen Your Creative Mind.  I took what I thought was good advice and some points that I hope that I will keep in mind throughout my career.

Manage Your Day-To-Day spoke to the distractions that technology has brought into our lives. Although as a 21 year old student I do not get many emails that require an immediate reply, I can relate to the distractions and the time I waste checking my smart phone. Reading and responding to an email or texting someone back and forth is easier than sitting down to the project or the research paper ahead of me. The advice offered in the book is good advice to students as well as professionals. I particularly took away that scheduling time to do my work, (for me, scheduled time at the library) and turning off my phone during this time is the most effective way to getting work done. It is a good habit and I will continue to try to make it a permanent one.

While reading the book I recognize the dilemma technology brings to the workplace. Getting to work and being faced with 85 emails first thing in the morning, for example, sounds very daunting and distracting. For so many years now we have been hearing the expression 24/7.  Fortunately it seems people are beginning to realize that 24/7 is not necessarily a good thing. As Dan Ariely writes in the chapter Understanding our Compulsions “The idea that the best way to communicate with people is 24/7 is not really an idea about maximizing potential.” (p 92) Ariely also writes that checking email first thing in the morning is a bad habit. It is a waste of a very productive and creative time of day. Reading emails and responding to emails should be scheduled into the day. If this became a habit among more professionals it would become an accepted practice and would perhaps increase productivity and creativity.  Truthfully however, as much as I understand the time consumption and the distractions that responding to a large amount of emails cause, there is a part of me that hopes and looks forward to this becoming a problem of mine as well.  Be Careful what you wish for. I know.

My favorite piece of advice I read this week was from Scott Belsky in the chapter “Tuning In To You.” Belsky writes that by turning off the technology and being more present in the “now” you are broadening your chances to come across unexpected opportunities. Belsky writes, “When you tune in to the moment, you begin to recognize the world around you and the true potential of your own mind.” (p111) Personally this is something that I want to work on. I plan to make being present in the world a priority, and hope for and expect some unexpected opportunities to come my way.

Works Cited
Glei, Jocelyn K., ed. Manage Your Day-To-Day Build Your Routine , Find Your Focus & Sharpen Your Creative Mind. Comp. 99 U Behance. Las Vegas: Amazon, 2013. Print.

After my reading I got to work on my projects. I made two different comps for my website. I did not want the sites to appear too busy and at the same time I wanted to bring in some color.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

My Technique (03/07/14)

Like most students, over my years in school I have been developing tools and techniques to help me manage my schoolwork. For me personally I have had the help of teachers and my parents who given me suggestions and advice as to what works for them. What I have learned is that the techniques that work best for me were suggestions that I took from them and made into my own. Tackling the hardest assignment first, going to the library and sitting in a certain area where I am less likely to be distracted and trying my best to ignore my phone’s emails, texts and news alerts are some of my own techniques.  As Mark McGuinness is quoted as saying in Manage Your Day-To Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus & Sharpen Your Creative Mind, “A truly effective routine is always personal-a snug fit with your own talent and inclinations.” p29. With this said, however, I am always interested in what works for others, as I continue to fine tune my techniques.

Working is going to be a very different situation than school work and will most likely require a very different routine. I find interesting in reading, Manage Your Day-To Day, some very different routines of the professionals. I think one of the best pieces of advice is from Seth Godin, who says that habits are important in getting the job done, and that you just have to do it. He writes, “Because lots and lots of people are creative when they feel like it, but you are only going to become a professional if you do it when you don’t feel like it. And the emotional waiver is why this is your work and not your hobby.”p42. Another piece of advice comes from Mark McGuinness, he advises to do creative work first and reactive work or answering emails and phone calls second. He says, “I always get my most important work done--and looking back all my biggest successes have been the result of making this simple change.”p27. He also suggests the use of creative triggers such as the same surroundings and or music. These will be triggers to the brain that it is time to work. An interesting piece of advice comes from Gretchen Rubin who suggests that frequency is an important element for her in getting the job down. She suggests that working on a project every single day is helpful even if it is for a short period of time. Rubin says, “When you work regularly, inspiration strikes regularly.” p35. I find this idea to be interesting because the same argument can be made for taking a break from a project from time to time to renew inspiration. I am reminded of the quote from Mark McGuiness at the beginning of my blog-routine is a personal fit.

After the readings, I decided to do some redesigns for my business cards. Using MOO ( I found some good designs for my cards:

I then started planning the design for my portfolio website:


Glei, Jocelyn K., ed. Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind. Las Vegas: Amazon, 2013. Print.