Your Tools Don’t Matter … for infrequent tasks

I had to start a wireframe for a new project today. Easy enough, right? I’ve built a number of them before.

But first – what tool should I use? All the cool kids are using Keynote these days, though a good argument for Illustrator was made the other day.

I ended up going with Illustrator – mostly because of the above mentioned article. I spent hours obsessing over symbols, styles, grids lines, and preferences.

Then I actually did the wireframe.

It took me 15 minutes.

With my current work obligations, I tend to only make wireframes once in a while – maybe every couple months. But I got caught up in the trap of trying to set up the perfect workflow with the perfect tool.

So here’s the thing – for tasks that you do infrequently, quite simply, workflow and perfect tools don’t matter.

Just jump in and start doing!

If you find yourself eventually doing some task regularly, by all means, find the perfect workflow and system setup. I use Textmate every day, and am constantly tweaking it to find better ways to use it. Same with CSSEdit. But a perfect wireframing workflow? It takes more time to set up than to use.

Plus, by the time you come back to doing an infrequent task, you’ll forget what your set up was like, and you’ll start all over again.

What do you think? Is it worth it to try to find the perfect set up for infrequent tasks? Let me know in the comments below.

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On staying focused

I’m again using a Daily Post topic as motivation for this post.

I am definitely a person with a fickle attention span. I have a hard time focusing on one thing at a time. When something else shiny comes along – boom! – I’m gone.

I have found some a few things, though, that help me focus when need be.

  1. Know when you’re capable of focusing. I know what periods of the day are better for me in terms of focus than others. For me, that’s roughly the late morning and the mid-to-late afternoon. I’m pretty useless first thing in the morning and right after lunch. I try to shift work accordingly. What times of day work best for you? Are you a morning person? Night owl? Knowing which definitely helps!
  2. Get overwhelmingly busy. My brain is wired to have a focus level that is directly proportional to the amount I need to accomplish. If I have one task to do all day, it won’t get done. I’ll find some way to goof off. If I have a mountain of things to do, on the other hand, I’ll get tunnel vision. Find your level of comfort in terms of work load and you’ll be surprised what you can do.
  3. Block some of the internets. I fully acknowledge that I can’t look away from the internet. It’s a real problem. So I literally have to rely on blocking certain sites from access. I found a great app called Self Control that does just that. You establish a list of sites to block – the ones that are major time sucks – and enable the blocker. For a specified amount of time, you won’t be able to access those sites. You can restart your computer even, and it won’t matter. Very helpful for someone like me!

So how do YOU stay focused? I’d love to hear it – drop me a comment below!

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