Hi Ho, Hi Ho

July 21, 2005

I've been thinking lately about how I work--and how much I work--and wondering what life is like for other designers. Specifically, I promised my husband and kids that I would only work like a maniac for the first year, while I was finding my feet and settling in. But it's now month 7, and I'm still pulling 10 to 16 hour days and only managing a day off once every week or two.

What in god's name do I do with my time?

Good question. The other day I mentioned in here that my projects average around 50 pages with a few scripts. That may be a little high. We'll say 30-40 pages. So far they've mostly been "redesigns" that are essentially completely new designs with new content.

I also mentioned that I give about 9 weeks to a project--3 weeks for a layout/mockup/prototype, 3 weeks for a Beta version and 3 weeks for a final version. One reason I give so much time is that I try to work on two projects at a time, to avoid that down time when a client doesn't send what they promised or I'm waiting around for a committee to okay a layout. Ideally I'd like one project to be in the first stages, while the other is in the final stages, but this is real life and fairytale stuff like that never happens to me.

I also spend a lot of time working on "job related" stuff. This involves everything from creating business cards and coming up with a standard contract to building a portfolio site and writing on this blog. In addition, I maintain a few sites for free, and once in a while I get slammed with one of them.

Because I'm still new, learning takes up a healthy chunk of my time. I try to keep up with a bunch of design blogs and sites, and I've been making my way through a huge load of books on design. As quickly as things evolve and grow on the web, the amount of time I spend on self-education probably won't change much. There is always something new to learn.

I have 5 months left to pull it together and to start working something resembling regular business hours. I'm not sure how I'm going to do it, but I don't have much choice. If I don't, I'm going to have an uprising on my hands. My family has been extremely patient and forgiving, but there are limits (or so I've been told).

You know what the biggest problem is? I suspect I secretly enjoy working so much. I don't like missing out on the family time, but isn't it awesome when you get so caught up with a project that you lose all track of time? I know I'm having a good day when I find myself talking outloud to no one ("Alright! Yes! That's it." or even "Come on, you stupid header. Style, dammit!"), and I can't bear to pull myself away.

Maybe, just maybe, that's my real problem.