On Time and Quality

Jun 10, 2019 | The Business of Design

“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”
John Wooden

“I don’t have time.”

We’ve all heard this line, and used this line, many times in our lives. It’s a mainstay of the busy-ness of modern life. Sometimes it’s an excuse when we really don’t want to do something. In other instances, it couldn’t be more sincere or overwhelmingly heartfelt. And sometimes, we could make the time for whatever it is, but we’d have to give up something else to do so – much needed sleep, or time with family, or even just the standard of quality we want in our work.

Time management and life balance are something even more on my mind since becoming a mom. It feels like a constant juggling act to try to fit everything in: work, mom duties, household stuff, time with my spouse, time with my daughter, making sure my daughter has social outings, sleep, and simply some downtime to recharge for myself. I’ve had to learn to be more efficient, and when something is ‘good enough’ to suffice, rather than perfect.

However, one area I am adamant about quality level remaining as high as always is work. 

My clients deserve my considered time and attention when I’m working on projects with them. It has meant redrawing some boundaries. My heavy work days are Monday-Wednesday-Friday when my daughter is at daycare. That’s when I do the majority of my work and schedule any phone/video calls or meetings. I simply don’t have the space to do more than maybe check in on email on Tuesdays & Thursdays when she’s home with me.

It’s also meant adjusting what kind of projects I say yes to. Short deadlines in particular are hard to accommodate with my new schedule. And when I’ve cited my reason when turning a project down, I’ve occasionally gotten some pushbask of “Can’t you just throw something together quickly?”

And yes, technically, I could. But it wouldn’t be very good work.

Good work takes time, energy and attention.

If I can’t give a project my all on those fronts, if I can’t do things right, I’d rather pass.* I don’t want to deliver subpar work to a client where they’ll just have to redo it later (or worse, just leave it in use as-is when it’s not great!). I want to create work that I’m proud of, and my clients deserve my best efforts. Part of my brand as a designer is a promise of quality, and I’m not willing to compromise on that.

How do you balance demands on your time with making sure you are doing high quality work? Which things get cut or put on the back burner?

*The same goes for this blog. You may have noticed less frequent posting. I don’t want to have filler posts on the blog just for a consistent posting schedule. I’d rather right posts I feel are good and/or useful, even if less frequent.



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