Nevermind the B…locks

Part-time Manchester teacher Martin Power is back with another opinion piece. We recently shared  Martin’s ‘More than just a Logo‘ in which he discussed the branding process and relevance of logos in present-day design.

In his second instalment on the blog, ‘Nevermind the b…locks’, Martin discusses the internal chaos all designers face when we just can’t engage our brain but that deadline is hot on our heels. From playing games to going to the pub Martin has used his own personal experiences as a designer to share his favourite methods of battling mind block. Bookmark this one—it’s a real comfort when you need some advice in your time of need! 

How I get my brain fired up when the deadline’s looming

So we’ve all had it, working on a project that just isn’t clicking. You’ve devoured research, drawn a million concepts but nothing’s quite right.

The pressure, the stress, the fear that you’re an imposter just winging it and you’re finally going to be caught out. You know what I do… put myself under even more pressure! Sounds crazy right? But nothing kicks your mind into gear like impending doom that you’re gonna make a tit of yourself.

The truth is, so much of what we do as designers comes from our memory.

You digest everything you need to know and then while you’re not even thinking about it, your brain will start to create a solution so that once you sit down, it’s there, a little seed of an idea.I’m not saying you don’t have to work on the idea, and I’m definitely not claiming that I’m some sort of super human who creates concepts while sleeping. What I am saying, is that when things aren’t clicking, there’s no point pushing pieces around a page. Walk away. Leave your thoughts behind.

So here’s a little list of what I personally do when the pieces aren’t coming together.

  1. Book a meeting with the client. Nothing gets your brain firing like knowing you have to present in 3 days.
  2. Jump onto another project. Most people I know will have several projects on at once, it’s a financial necessity, but it’s also a blessing, because it means you can’t rest on one project for too long.
  3. Write a blog piece. Something I’m trying to do more of recently and it really does help because it kicks my brain into a different mode meaning I completely forget the problem.
  4. Read something. Design book, blog post, the news, twitter, whatever suits you.
  5. Play a game. Whatever device you want, mobile, playstation or even good old board games. They reset the ‘Fuck, I don’t have time for this’ button.
  6. Go to the pub. A firm favourite of mine, go sit with a pint, with people or alone, and talk about anything other than the project
  7. And last but not least, Do something with your hands. I’m in the middle of renovating my house so I have a list as long as Mancunian Way of things to do. But manual labour is a great way of switching off your concentration, it’s hard, back breaking work that makes you realise that this creative work that we do is a breeze. You don’t damage your hands, get shit in your eyes or even fall through floorboards. So go pick up some wood, and get whittling or some shit.

These work for me, but everyone is different. You may go cycling, take the dog for a walk, play hopscotch… whatever you do, just make sure it switches your brain into a different mode. Burn out is real, and if you live in one mode, it will come a lot sooner than you think.

Read more from Martin over on his Medium page! 

Martin is part of our part-time team at Shillington Manchester. Our part-time classes start in September each year, so if you’re considering a change in career or want to up-skill from a current role it could be the ideal opportunity to balance your job and study time together. Head over to Shillington Education to see our upcoming info sessions or more details about our course dates.