Gav Strange shares his thoughts on why we never have enough time

In his latest column for Inkygoodness, designer Gav Strange says we need to take responsibility for how we spend our time - or risk wasting it.

Hello pickles, how’s it going? Well I trust? Today I want to go over something that we’ve covered a few times before, but that’s because it’s the essence of everything we do. That’s right, it’s that popular indefinite continued progress of existence that occurs in irreversible succession that we all know and love; Time!

I talk a lot about it – finding it, using it, wasting it – but because it’s such an important part of the creative process, right? Especially when it comes to side-projects or self-initiated work, finding or making the time is the most difficult part. I often talk to folk about passion projects, as they’re something I really believe in (as if you couldn’t tell – every other column is me banging on about it), but the number one ‘gripe’ is finding the time to indulge them. So I think we have to use every trick that we can. Anything we can do to give ourselves that kick we all need to make stuff happen.

It’s easy to put things off, to state that the time’s not right or that the stars haven’t aligned yet. Life is already full of stuff that takes up that precious time, so right now just isn’t good for me, soz. Here’s the thing though – this is it. This is how it’s always going to be. There’s always going to be real life needing your attention, there’s ALWAYS going to be a seemingly never-ending stream of stuff that needs to be done and requires your precious ticks and tocks.

That’s only going to get more intense too, in a messy, entropic kinda way. As a functioning member of society, you’re expected to do things, y’know, grown-up tasks, and then, when you show competence at that, you’re expected to do even more! THAT’S WHY I HAVEN’T GOT TIME FOR YOUR STUPID SIDE-PROJECTS, I hear you roar!

I think we owe it to ourselves to at least try, to at least cobble together the time to look into that silly idea we had whilst in the shower. The thing that seems crazy to me is the notion of “UGH… MONDAYS!”. Whether or not it’s just an extended marketing campaign from the days of Garfield or not, I think it’s absolute madness to regard an entire day with dread and just want it over and done with.

Find that joy of making something totally YOURS. Satisfy that creative itch with a curious scratch of ‘what if’?

Gavin Strange

Mondays represent 14.285714% of your entire lifetime! You only get (roughly) 28,000 days to call your own, why would you try and just get 4,000 over and done with!?

See, I know I’m going off on an idealistic trip again, and it’s very easy of me, with a job that I love and a happy, healthy family to say “Stop moaning y’all! Just do the fun stuff”, because I know it’s not easy. Everyone’s situation in life is different, so no one-size-fits-all approach is right, but what I DO know is that joyous feeling that comes from making something happen, for yourself, because you want to, is wonderful.

I always want to be the best version of myself I can be, and creatively, that means exploring all these ideas and plans that I have, that we all have, and seeing where it takes me. Because, simply, life is too short not to.

Gavin Strange

I talk idealism but I pride myself on being a realist. I have a full-time job, I have a wife and our brand new baby boy. We have a dog. I want to be the best employee, husband and father I can be, but I always want to be the best version of myself I can be, and creatively, that means exploring all these ideas and plans that I have, that we all have, and seeing where it takes me. Because, simply, life is too short not to.

Ironically, this column I’m writing right now is late. It should have been submitted yesterday but it simply wasn’t possible, as our little one wasn’t very well in the night so I needed to be a Dad instead of a side-project doer in my ‘allotted’ passion project time. I think that is the realistic side of this – use the idealistic version of you to make the plans for what you want to do, and then use the realistic side to be flexible and forgiving when things don’t go to plan.

Make the plans for what you want to do, and then allow yourself to be flexible and forgiving when things don’t go to plan.

Gavin Strange

So, back to the original point of this post – using every trick you can make creative indulgence possible. When I first became a Dad, it made me look at my 24 hours very closely and make decisions on exactly what I wanted to fill them with, so I came up with ‘the time circle’! I’m sure there’s much better diagrams and methods for this kind of thing, but I like circles, so I’m sticking with it.

I then colour in the different segments, each representing an hour, to visualise where my time is going. I find it helpful to see, at a glance, what my time is like and what my life is like.

For me, looking at it right now, I think I have a healthy balance between all things. If I wanted to change something, anything, then I’d reduce the amount of sleep so I could have more of everything else, but that isn’t healthy, so I’m not going to do it (well, not just yet). This is the point, it’s an easy way to plot what you’re up to and to visualise that if you change on portion of what you’re doing, it will effect another part of it. It’s a nice fluid way of looking at your days.

This is just my time circle though, as we know, it’s different for every individual. There’s no right or wrong way to do this, it’s what works for you – why not download a PDF of the diagram and plot what you’re up to yourself? Who knows, you might uncover a golden half hour you never knew you had.

Now I don’t want to induce an existentialist crisis, but… this is it. This is your life, looking at this silly diagram of some circles and lines, that’s it. It’s really easy to not think about and to just carry on each day, but pretty soon those days become weeks which become years. I don’t know about you, but I want to make sure I’m living the happiest, healthiest and most fulfilled life I can. I’m using this trick to help me stay on track and do what I love, what’s yours going to be?

Flipping heck… sorry guys, that got a bit heavy didn’t it!? Now, I don’t want to end on a heavy note, let’s keep it light. So, let’s undo all that good work above and waste a bit of time watching this. Over and over. On a loop. Forever.



Posted on Jul 26th, 17 by

By Day, Gavin is a Senior Designer for the Interactive arm of Aardman Animations, by night he's a Designer & Director going under the alias of JamFactory, indulging in all manner of passion projects. In 2015 he wrote his first book 'Do Fly', published by The Do Book Company, and he co-founded the contemporary design store 'STRANGE' with his wife Jane. He lives in Bristol with Jane, his son Sullivan and their greyhound Peggy.

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