In orchestral music, the last note of a piece is the most important note, because it is the last note the audience will remember. My band director advised us, “No matter what happens during the piece: no matter how many times you mess up, strive to make the last note strong.”
When I near the end of a difficult activity - running, writing, or designing - I’m always tempted to let my energy fade a little bit at the end. I’ll think, “I’ve done the work. I’m tired, it’s almost over, I can just slow down.”
There are two problems with slowing down.
When I relax a little bit: leave some corners unpolished, or skip the last half mile, I’m cheating myself. I know I can do better, it’s just a matter of doing so.
The second problem with slowing down is that the end of an activity can disappoint the people who work with you. It disrespects the integrity of the project.
The key to overcoming this is reframing the activity in your mind. Time is valuable, and any time you spend doing something is worth doing well. It also feels good to actually complete a fast-paced activity. Choosing to not complete a project strongly is laziness.
The last 10% of a project takes 90% of your time. Make sure your last note is strong - it’s what people will remember about you.
Thinking about how the majority of design work isn’t “sexy”. It’s working with others, organizing the moving parts, and getting a project to completion that makes up the most design work. It’s the heavy lifting that will make you a great designer.
“I once read that safe-crackers rub the tips of their fingers with sandpaper to increase tactile sensitivity. It make their fingertips ultra-sensitive and enables them to feel the nuances of the lock’s gear mechanism, as they rotate the dial in search of the magic combination that will open the safe. It’s the same with graphic design: the more sensitive you become to the world around you the better you will function. This means studying design in all its contemporary manifestations, as well as design history and the visual arts in general. But it also means studying the world beyond graphic design.”
- Adrian Shaughnessy, How to be a graphic designer without losing your soul
I moved to San Francisco three weeks ago from Atlanta, GA, and Chattanooga, Tennessee before that. I lived in San Francisco last summer for an internship at about.me, and fell in love with this city.
I’m here to be part of the technology and startup scene. More than that, I’m here because of connections I’ve made and continue to make here. The tech and design communities are incredibly closely knit, and I feel welcomed and encouraged with each new person I meet. It gives me the feeling that more things in my life are possible here.