The Necessity of Balance

You CAN choose them ALL. But should you? (Photo by Kaboompics .com)

A designer who hasn’t acquired a sense of balance can end up creating a page layout that’s a cluttered mess. What should the eye focus on, when photos, headlines, copy blocks, logos and icons all compete for attention?

Perhaps this enthusiastic, creative person has also chosen to use a half-dozen favorite fonts (script, serif, sans serif!), an array of colors, and then thrown some gradients and textures on top of it all.

While amongst this chaos, there might be awkward blank spaces, and elements that seem oddly small or large in relation to others on the page.

This may seem like an exaggerated scenario, but there are times when I look at samples of work I’ve saved from my early career, and I groan (facepalm! headdesk!). I’ve obviously made all these mistakes and more.

Yet creative attempts of the past were often learning experiences, so I try to set regrets aside. It’s wiser to simply feel proud and confident, realizing that I’ve come a long way in acquiring the knack of refining my design work.

Similarly, I seem to have figured out a lot in recent years when it comes to bringing focus and balance to my life in general.

I remember being overwhelmed with projects, chores, obligations and hobbies that had me rushing around short of sleep while feeling lost.

But gradually I learned how to proritize tasks at work. I pared my side-projects down to those I really cared about (I love my gardening blog!).

I now try to realistically evaluate which chores are vital to get done, and which can be postponed, or perhaps delegated to someone else.

I started to set time aside for relaxation and exercise on a regular basis. Also, I’ve come to see the importance of turning my mind away from work and my fascinating hobbies more often, in order to pay attention to the people around me (Hello fellow humans!).

It can be so tempting to take on additional freelance jobs, or start learning yet another marketing content management system, or download a new app. Or to dive back into the many abandoned interests of my past, such as folding origami (and building with Lego and jigsaw puzzles and beading and baking cookies and …ooh, Pinterest!)

But then I persuade myself to reflect on all that I’ve currently got in the mix of the 16 hours I’m awake in an average day. I add and subtract, considering what I truly value in the here and now.

Today, I choose to set aside a design project until I have gathered more information, freeing up time to extend a meeting with a friend. I choose to decline attending a conference; perhaps next year.

I choose to take the long way home from work and admire fall colors on the trees. I won’t have time to tidy up the house before the hockey game starts (Go Sharks!), but I’m okay with that.

Appreciation for balance can be as essential to a life well-lived, as it is part of a professional designer’s toolset. While I create experiences for the world to see on the page, I reflect on how I’ve progressed; looking forward to the opportunities for decisions, discoveries and journeys ahead.