Like many bored adolescents on a Friday night, I spent hours staring at my computer screen playing the infamous “The Sims”. I played the original version when I was in elementary school. And I believed my life skills were based on the ones I gave to my Sims. That idea quickly faded, but “The Sims” taught me valuable lessons that carried into my design world.
Always Save Your Projects
Anything can happen. I once spent nine straight hours playing “The Sims” and had several generations of one family. Then the game crashed. Goodbye, hard work. Saving often is a fundamental key that I learned early on from “The Sims.” I started setting timers — usually every 15 minutes — to remind myself to save the game.
The same mindset forced me to always have backups and save some of my designs in second and third places. I wasn’t going to lose a single item because of a computer error. Today, I save multiple drafts and versions of my work, so I can refer back to slightly altered designs.
Know That You Can Attempt Anything
Design is all about experimentation. It’s okay to color outside of the lines. Perhaps you shouldn’t try to build a multi-story house in a tree. But you can challenge your architecture skills. Many Sims are good at more than one skill, so why shouldn’t you be?
For example, I started as a web designer and integrated UX design into my repertoire shortly after. Take a chance on yourself and look to leaders in the design industry for inspiration when you get stuck. Chances are we’ve all been there.
Remember That We All Struggle
Sometimes I wish we didn’t have needs. Sims get cranky if you want them to learn something or be productive when their needs are down. I used the cheat where you could freeze the digression of their needs, so they could always be productive. Too bad the cheat isn’t available in real life.
I can usually find a great workflow by 11 in the morning — after a cup of coffee (or three). I call clients, review my latest prototypes and write some code — and then my stomach interrupts everything. I’m starving, but there’s much more to do. I try to push it off until the early afternoon, but the hunger pains are not easy to work through. Admit you have needs. Take a break. Your designs will thank you for it!
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Know That You Can’t Be Friends With Everyone
Personalities clash, and the brawls are usually not pretty. Putting two unlike Sims together in a room usually ends in a fist fight and hurt feelings. It simply wasn’t meant to be.
The same idea applies to design work. Many times, I’ve tried to integrate two vastly different concepts and hoped that it would all work out. I rearrange the placement and step back. Nope, it’s definitely not meant to be. Remember that not all designs can be friends — and that’s okay.
Step back and assess the dilemma. Perhaps you’ll need to walk away for a few hours — possibly a few days — and reevaluate. A fresh perspective is the best way to approach such issues.