Tuesday, January 31, 2012

JDFI January + February Extension

So, it's the last day of January and instead of celebrating the launch of my website, I'll be spending the afternoon at the Genius Bar getting a diagnosis of my twice busted computer. Sigh...

My mom always used to tell me that more often than not, your Plan A doesn't work out in life so you'd better not get too attached to the outcome (that one's for you Ben), and you'd better have a Plan B (sometimes even a C and D) lined up and ready to roll. I've been discouraged enough to ponder giving up finishing this website altogether (or at least putting it down for a while) but I read this great little quote in Whole Living Magazine this morning that gave me a much needed reminder:

So, my decision is to move forward and I'm extending my deadline to the end of February. I hope everyone can hang in there for another month of boring website posts, hopefully minus the computer problems this time.

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Just wanted to update everyone that I'm writing this from my iPhone because I got the black curtain of death on my computer yesterday and it's officially out of commission, AGAIN.

Just one question, SERIOUSLY, ARE YOU SERIOUS?!

I'd also like to take a poll to see what everyone thinks this means:

A: I'm paying for something terrible I did in a past life.

B: I should give up trying to be a Graphic Designer altogether.

C: I should stop challenging myself to work so hard and have more fun.

D: I should quit my bitching because things could be a whole lot worse.

Answers in the comment field, please. I'm off to do something analog for the rest of the night...

Friday, January 27, 2012

Tony Schwartz: The Myths of the Overworked Creative

A few months ago I watched a presentation by Tony Schwartz about how the way we’re working (think 8+ hour shifts of continuous output) isn’t working, and it really resonated with me. I recommend that everyone give it a listen if you have a chance (it’s about 30 minutes long), but I’ll detail the main points so you can get the gist of it.

Basically, Tony's goal is to debunk the theory that working as hard and as fast as you can is the best way to get things done. He talks about how, “We’re partially engaged in a lot of things and we’re almost never fully engaged in anything”, but how ”The most powerful way to get things done at a high level of quality and in an efficient way is to do one thing at a time in an absorbed way for a significant period of time”. Basically, the opposite of the heavily distracted and constantly interrupted way that I usually work.

I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m a champion procrastinator. I work for about 5 minutes before I allow myself to get distracted with something else: checking email, texting, obsessively cleaning the house, basically anything I can find to pull me away from my original task. At one point in the presentation he says that every time you move from your primary activity (let’s say, working on my website) to another (ohhh, like checking my email perhaps?), you increase the amount of time it’ll take to finish your primary activity by 25%. So wait...the 4 times I stop to check my email in an hour doubles the time it takes me to finish my task? Great.

So what do we do? Tony suggests tapping into the natural ultradian rhythm of our bodies, the sort of waking version of our sleep cycles.

“We’re not meant to work continuously and we’re not most effective when we do and the better way to work is to build in intermittent renewal along the way...we’re designed to move between spending energy and renewing energy in a rhythmic way”.

The human mind is able to focus and concentrate for 90 minutes at a time, but at the end of those 90 minutes, your concentration begins to wane and you need to recover and renew your energy before entering the next 90 minute cycle. In short, the most effective and efficient way to get things done is to devote your undivided attention to the task at hand for 90 minutes, then take a break to recharge, and enter another 90 minute work cycle.

I’m sharing this video because this is how I’ve been working on my website (and a number of other projects as well). For someone with a short attention span who’s easily distracted, it’s worked great. I like seeing my day in chunks rather than one long stretch of time, not to mention I love being given permission to take more breaks. It’s also nice to know that it’s still worthwhile to get some work done if I only have a 90 minute block of time.

And I should probably update everyone too, but there's pretty much no way that my site is launching by my original January 31st deadline. I thought I might be able to push through and get it done quickly, but those 10 days I missed when my computer was off being repaired definitely set me back. The new launch date is February 10th, and I'm sticking to it.

Time for a bunch more 90 minute work blocks!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sneak Peak

While I do want to share each step of my design process, I don't want to unveil everything before the site launches—there needs to be some element of surprise, right? That being said, here's a little sneak peak of my first stab at the design, zoomed out so you just get a hint of the direction that I'm headed in:

My working files are the ones in the middle with the turquoise band across the top and bottom. All of the surrounding images are just there for reference to give me a little inspiration when I need help figuring something out.

T-8 days! Hahahahaha, we'll see about that...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Today was my first real website workday after the Great Computer Crash of 2012, and I picked up right where I left off: wireframing the site.

For all my non-design readers, once you have all of your content determined (what sections your website will have, text, images, etc.) wireframes are a way to organize everything in a rough, non-designed layout so that you have everything mapped out before you move into the design phase. A sort-of road map for when you're ready to start applying all the stylistic elements. I'll attach what I worked on today so you can get a better idea:

"Work" Page

"Individual Project" Page

"Services" Page

"About" Page

"Contact" Page

Next Step: Now that everything is all mapped out, it's time to figure out what the site actually looks like. I finished all my "Just Danne" branding (logo, colors, typography) over the summer so I'm hoping that the design phase will move along pretty quickly (which it has to with less than 2 weeks until launch).

Back to work!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

and...We're Back!

That's right friends, I'm writing to you from my computer which means that I'm officially up and running again, horray! I picked up my little friend on Sunday afternoon and spent the last few days getting her back up to speed.

Luckily, very luckily, I'm good about backing up so I only lost a few things. For all you Mac users out there, USE TIME MACHINE! Best application ever. When I got my computer back it was completely wiped and all I had to do was plug in my time machine drive and within about an hour everything was back, everything. Even my internet bookmarks and preferences. Amazing.

So, looks like I've got some serious work to do. I'm going to try to stick to my original deadline so it's go time. T-minus 14 days, ahhhh!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

One Week Later...

Well, it's officially been a week since my computer crapped out on me and I don't really have much to report. I'm still computer-less, and I'm still without any progress on my site. Sigh...

I have to admit, part of me was definitely looking forward to an unplugged week, but some sort of plague managed to strike the Kaplawagis household and I've been holed up for the past few days, sicker than I've been in years. In short, 2012 is kicking my ass.

And as if to rub salt in the wound, Behance (the creative network where I currently have my work up), sent this email about now being the time to get your portfolio site up to date. Thanks for the reminder Behance, I appreciate it.

Thanks for hanging in there guys and I hope that 2012 isn't being such a jerk to everyone else. Fingers crossed that my computer makes it home to me very soon so I can get back to work!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Minor (let's hope so) Setback

Picture this: It's last Thursday afternoon. I'm sipping tea in my study, making serious progress on my justdanne.com to-do list for the day. I take a break for a second to check iCal and the computer freezes. I give it a minute to regroup, but the rainbow circle of death is still spinning. At this point I decide it's time to shut it down and restart, but when I boot it back up this is what I see:


Reaction #2: Are you serious? 3 hours into my first day of work on the website that I've been procrastinating getting done for the last 6 years and my computer, which I've NEVER had a problem with before, crashes? No seriously, are you serious?

After a trip to the genius bar on Friday it looks like the logic board on my little friend is kaput and I'll be computer-less for the next week or so while it's off being repaired. I'm not really sure what to do about this as far as my website goes because there really isn't much I can work on without my computer, and especially without access to my files (which are backed up for the most part), so I'm just going to take this as a cue from the universe to keep it analog for a bit.

Que sera, sera, right?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

January's Goal

Brought to you by Danielle's Daily Fitness in Watertown, MA. Definitely one of my all-time favorite signs...

Monday, January 2, 2012

JFDI January

People often ask me how I decide what to do for each month's lent. When I first started the blog back in 2009, I sat down and mapped out the entire year's worth of challenges in one sitting. While it was nice to have such a defined plan, I quickly discovered that completing one month of lent often inspired an idea for another month of lent, and that the experiences and adventures of the year lead me in directions that I couldn't have predicted.

So, I switched it up a bit and now I take things one month at a time. When the month is drawing to a close, I do a personal assessment and decide what would be most beneficial to me at that time. Is my diet out of whack? Am I slacking on exercise? Do I need to be taking things a little less seriously and having more fun?

Towards the close of December I was feeling pretty strongly that some sort of dietary detox was in the cards for January's lent (I've been living off of hors d'oeuvres and holiday sweets, it's disgusting). I even took it as a sign from the universe when I got the new issue of Whole Living Magazine which featured a 21 day detox on the cover. Perfect. Cliché, but perfect. But then I got to thinking...as much as my diet needed a reboot, there's been one pesky thing on my to-do list for the past 6 years (literally) that I just can't seem to finish for the life of me: Get my design website up.

Lent to the rescue!

It's really embarrassing to admit, but I design websites for a living and I don't even have my own. Lord only knows how I've made it 6 years in the professional world without one, but it's time to quit procrastinating and JFDI: "Just F***ing Design It" (a spin off of "Just F***ing Do It, what became our group mantra in my session of Project M). My goal for January is to launch www.justdanne.com by January 31st. No excuses, no extensions, just a hard deadline that I'm committing to. Period.

I'm not quite sure how interesting reading about my design process is going to be, but I'm thinking that it'll be a lot less annoying than reading rants about how much I miss jelly beans and pinot grigio (which I should probably consider giving up for real lent this year).

T-29 days 'til launch, 1,2, 3 go!