Thinking about the work is the work

On the experience of being a knowledge worker

I do much of my design “work” in my head.

Whether it’s software or architecture, I spend most of my time assembling a concept in my mind. 

By the time I sit down to document and refine a design, I’ve long been arranging the general idea in my head.

To others, it can seem like I don’t work that many hours. If work equals, counting hours at my desk, they’re right. But the reality is my mind is constantly churning on a design problem. I do some of my best work on runs, in the shower, eating a meal by myself, or driving alone in the car.

My workflow is split into three primary phases: Concept, Design Documentation, and Execution.

Thinking about the problem and mentally assembling a solution, is 100% the work of design.

The task of documenting and honing the finer details of the solution, is 50% design and 50% execution.

Lastly, building the solution is 25% design 75% execution (a solution always evolves once it comes to life).

To use software as an example: UX Design > UI Design > Development.

For me, UX and high-level UI happens largely in my head, fine-tuned UI design happens at my desk, and development is more about project management and polishing the feel of a solution once it’s in functioning-code form.

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I send an email several times a year with a handful of the most interesting things I’ve written or uncovered at home, abroad, and on the web.

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