I was trained as an architect, so I understand short and long term planning strategies. I lived it as a student and joined the profession to be fully immersed in it. Moving into academia brought the same challenges: How does one plan for today (the now) and tomorrow (the future)? If that was not enough, I moved away from academia into retail, another venue that plans both ways. Each industry I participate in taught me why designers, retailers and entrepreneurs need to do both. Short and Long term Planning Strategies involve how you use time, space and action to develop ideas and implement projects.
Some designers I went to school with, trained and worked with have what I aptly call the “time-lapse” disease: they have no sense of time, paid no attention to its importance and used it in-efficiently. Time is a valuable commodity. And to do short term planning, you must have a time range. I often wonder how designers who work alone (in silos) actually set deadlines. The few I know well keep changing deadlines that they never really finish what they are doing, on time, thus, on budget.
My daily life is full of activity. I run a retail business, work with an academic institution in Ghana from New York and I am now working on developing 2 critical exhibitions. So, my time is limited and as such I try to use it wisely. Short term planning strategies I implement revolve around working on 3-5 things at a time. It makes me able to function, measure and get results. It also takes away anxiety, sloppy work and gives me the ability to deal with things. In the short term, I can layout a schedule, have things stagger, and most importantly, work on each item without multi-tasking as much.
Using time in short and long term strategies require you become efficient, effective and clear about the 5 W’s of a project – Who, What, Why, Where and When – and the How. Who are you working for? What are you doing for them? Why are you doing it? Where are you doing it? When does it occur and How can you get it done? This looks easy but it is complicated.
Space is a very limited concept – it is like time but involves more dimensions. My space is where I work – the physical space, and how I work – digital space and most importantly, the mental space. These three spaces make me work better or hinder me. My physical space most days is my retail store and my home. In my home space, I used to work at a desk but I got bored so I relocate my work to sitting on my bed, couch and sometimes on the floor – all these moves are about my mood and comfort as I develop work. Some people work at cafes – I am not the best in those places but as I write today, I am at one. I have to admit it, I finally found one that works for me except when the staff turned on the music, I realized, I will have to leave earlier than planned.
My digital space fluctuates between a Toshiba and a Dell Laptop, a series of sketch books, note books and my handy Nokia where I take notes, photograph things and interact with the world. I read a lot so my Nokia has become my information source – from Harvard Business Report to CNN, I am plugged in. I do my best work early in the morning and sometimes late in the evening. The afternoons have become my think tank period where I churn on what I started in the morning. My digital space is also facebook where I am constantly curating what I read, see and document. It is a directory and image database for my thoughts and projects.
Very few people like to deal with this third space – the mental one. I think this is one of the most important spaces to support and nurture as a designer, artist, and entrepreneur. Mind over matter is not a simple notion. I work productively when my mental space is at its best. This means that I am relaxed, excited and having fulfilling brain waves. This usually occurs for me early in the morning. It is when I am happy and getting out of my dream state. These three spaces allow me to plan short and long term strategies. From each, I am able to look ahead and make decisions effectively.
Too many people have great ideas and do not implement it because they think too much and act very little. To act, you must plan. And planning take skills. An idea is a place to start but an action is the place to implement it, I am a big believer in planning, talking and acting. It is why I can show you what my Creativity Board is for the next few years, It illustrates my short, medium and long-term strategies to my work and projects– I called it my Action Diagram. I stare at it daily to remind me, to inspire me and to put me on track. It lists all the projects I have been working on in the last 5 years and the next 5.
My diagram revolves around me and the four areas I have chosen to focus on – Business, Education, Writing and Curatorial Work. Projects all spin off from these areas and I have color coded them:
Red are the projects that I am currently working on: THE NOW – is what I call this – I see them as my current, every day. Blue represents the projects in development and will take at least 2 -3 years of my intense focus. My new partnership, Tangiers is one such project. Green represents long term plans – THE FUTURE. This may take more than 3 years to implement, and I have time to do so.
My Action Diagram gives me purpose and focus. It keeps me on track and it helps me say NO to projects and YES to projects that can be added to my plate. This week, I added Mississippi. It inspired me from the requests. It perked my interest and ended up in two categories. It will take 2 phases – now and later, so I am patient.
Short and Long term Planning Strategies involve how you use time, space and action to develop ideas and implement projects. I am a creator of ideas and I expect as a creator to implement them. I may have 10,000 ideas but I know that limiting it to 5-10 in a certain amount of time, will give me the ability, space and focus to do them. Life is about what you accomplish not just about what you dream about. Just dream and do it.
My next blog will deal with Inspiration, join me next week as I reveal some of the best kept secrets for designers, retailers and entrepreneurs. Interested in thinking and changing your business, I am available for business coaching at email@example.com