Getting things done with Trello

Most people will enjoy the nice weather or take a trip. I use this precious time to do some work on my projects. Sounds dull, but deep down it makes me happy. 

Putting up a wall

And that’s alright because that was a huge part of their empire. They swore to themselves never to let their guard down after Rome was sacked by the Gauls in its early history. Because of that, they developed a highly organised, professional war machine. They conquered whatever they set their sights on. And they remained hungry — after each conquest they already had plans for the next one. At their peak, the Romans controlled the region between the frozen Scottish highlands in the north and the sandy deserts of north Africa in the south. But then — they stopped.

A two-step, no bullshit guide to sketching

In the last dispatch I wrote about my story of how I learned that sketches aren’t meant to be perfect. How they aren’t meant to give final answers. They’re meant to ask further questions. To doubt your own solutions. And with that comes a lot more sketching. Sketching is not something you do at the start of the process, produce a wonderful looking sketch and move on. Sketching needs to be done throughout the design process. And in order to produce more sketches quicker, the quality of sketching needs to move aside. Here’s quick overview of my sketching kit followed by a few tips to make sketching serve its true meaning in your design process.

My sketches aren’t perfect

This means that I started to sketch a lot more. I always loved to sketch, scribble and draw. I always felt this need to put something on the paper. Something visual I can refer to later on. Something I put out of my head—an idea that gets transformed into something physical.

You are not who you think you are

“Sign here and you’ll resign from the technical high school”, said the headmaster as he gave me a disappointed look. It was the resignation letter. I had no choice but sign it. I had skipped way too many classes. I went over the limit and this was the next step in the process. But it wasn’t just about skipping classes. I wasn’t doing well at school at all.

Faster horses

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses” is a quote attributed to Henry Ford. It’s a quote that many people use as an excuse not to do user testing. Because designers and product managers are supposed to be these geniuses that pull ideas out of thin air. Steve Jobs was one of those design/product gurus. All the designer and product manager wannabes have a quote or two from Steve that they hold close to their heart so they feel more secure about themselves. But neither Steve or Henry became famous for their ideas because they would be original. They weren’t. Steve didn’t make the first computer and Henry didn’t make the first car (he made the first car assembly line).

Breaking through a creative block

I’m sure you know these moments too. Working hard on something but not getting anywhere with it. Through all these years I found three approaches that help me through these moments. Most of the times they work. But sometimes they don’t and I ship average work, feel bad about it and can’t wait to get back and improve it. Anyway, here they are.

My reading process

Reading Books First of all, I keep a to-read list on Whenever I encounter a book that I find interesting, I add it to this list (more than 400 items at the moment). Besides reading I also like to plan. I use Trello for all my planning. I split every year into quarters—periods of three months. Then I write down all the books that I want to read in the upcoming period and create a checklist. With a goal of 40 books per year that’s 10 books per quarter.

I quit design twice

The last thing I remember I wanted to be was a “game designer/developer”. I just got my first PC and playing video games was all I did. Then, at some point, I had stopped thinking about what I really wanted to do. I guess the “life auto–pilot” must have kicked in.