andrew tralongo cut from the same cloth feature

Cut from the same cloth

Xugar has been a great opportunity for myself to develop a vast variety of skills – it is something I did not expect from applying for a web design internship nearly a year and a half ago. And with the way the company has grown and developed, I have quickly risen to the top. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate it greatly, but I also wish that it progressed a little differently.

From A-B and B-C

From just a Digital Graphic Designer, I moved to Design Director as the company developed – in terms of the role and responsibilities I had, nothing drastically changed as I had already created my own work and developed a new arm of the business in content creation and design.

However, it is once I became the Design Director and Project Coordinator that things became a little different, now managing the design and development departments of the business. Having to manage and train people below you is much more difficult than I thought. Your time gets eaten into defining and delegating tasks, checking other peoples work before it gets sent out to the client or even other departments, replying to emails and the nitty gritty of it all. It’s funny how productive a day can feel and still not know exactly what you did that made you feel so productive. Trying to keep on top of it all sounded so easy, but I never realised how hard it actually was.

It’s funny how productive a day can feel and still not know exactly what you did that made you feel so productive.

Towards the beginning it was real difficult. All the inherited tasks of the previous manager (late projects, half completed websites, little-to-no briefing and supporting documentation, and most importantly frustrated clients) it was a load of stress that to be honest, wasn’t the easiest to deal with. As a matter of fact, I didn’t deal with it at all – it felt so overwhelming. I was taking all of the blame on my shoulders and it was tearing me down bit by bit. I wanted to prove that I could clean all this up, not just to the company, but to myself; That I could get through this and prevail on top.

While in the ‘storm’ of it all, after one day where it all felt like way too much, something had to change. Not just the way I was managing the tasks, but the way that I have to be to be able to do this kind of work. The first I knew was going to be how to actually manage the projects and daily tasks; because what was done before, wasn’t working.

Refine, refine, refine.

I had helped the previous project manager develop a clearer project development process so I already understood how that worked. The best way for it to improve is to simply use it when we receive a new project and refine, refine, refine.

Image sourced from eBooks.com

Bullet Journaling

The bigger task however was managing tasks on a day-to-day basis. I could track all the tasks in our project management platform, Teamwork, however for things like Ring client in regards to X, Draft up email to Y or even just your odd favour for someone that you know you should write down otherwise you’ll forget, it just gets too time consuming compared to just writing a note. I tried to write your good old, big standard To Do lists but it was often just on pieces of paper that would be eventually lost within the stacks of scrap notes and paper. Then I attempted to move to digital and keep a typed up list going, that I could copy and paste uncompleted tasks over from the previous day, but then I might as well have been doing it on our Teamwork system.

Walking around Milligram with my partner, we found a few books about Bullet Journaling. I had no idea what it was, but my partner told me that it would be a good idea to do. There was one book however which stood out amongst the bunch – The 365 Bullet Guide by Zennor Compton. So I flicked through a few pages, liked the vibe, and picked it up.

A notebook always ends up messy and in-organised to a degree, but I liked that you can design order within that chaos. Customise the way that you want the diary/journal to be laid out in within every spread. Combine both meeting notes and daily task lists neatly into the one book. I thought that it would be a good starting point to start, with the possibility to further develop and refine the journal.

Podcasts

The next thing was something which I have been trying to work on for a while now – finding other designers to connect and relate with. Being able to relate and even just vent to others who are experiencing the same kind of day-to-day issues. Building new relationships is something that I am trying to work on, however I have been wanting to be more productive in my down time. Not being a big reader, I though I would try listening to a podcast before investing in audio books. After researching a few design related podcasts, I discovered The Honest Designers Show and Design Life. I tried a few other podcasts but I didn’t find them that relatable, often like mini TED Talks. Why I connected to these shows was that it was simply a few authentic people having a conversation, finding out ways to overcome their problems at hand or learning about something new they are genuinely interested in, with advice that isn’t limited to a single form of design.

And now…

And now many of these projects have been completed and handed off to their respective clients, and the last of them nearing a close. I’m actively listening to these podcast, and even started tuning in to Tom Ross’ The Honest Entrepreneur Show to discover if there is another area I can explore. Even though we have been working on Xugar’s YouTube channel, a YouTube presence has been something that I have been thinking of delving into…