A day in the life of a designer

and the unbearable lightness of tuesdays…


I often stumble upon feature-pieces about a day in the life of some sort of CEO, COO and other three word abbreviations. I always admire their energy and all the “I usually get up at 4:30 to reply to a few emails and get a run in, before the day starts”. Wondered if there would be a contrast, so I decided to share a day in my own life…

6:12: My two year old son wakes up and is instantly ready to get going. I put on a cartoon about a very large teddy bear, to make him calm down. Works like a charm, and lying on the sofa I sort of nod off for a few minutes...

6:24: I’m awakened by my sons effort to see if he can fit a very large piece of lego in my nose. He looks at me with that “We get up now for real, or I’ll wait ‘till you nod off again, and turn this place upside down — your call”

6:25: We get up. For real.

6:42: While my son is eating oatmeal I make a cup of instant coffee and check my mail. 12 new mails during the night. 9 of them about some sort of new pre-sign-up thing for a new product, and a summary of other news on the internet. 3 of them from our US office. I try to reply to one in english, with the danish keyboard active. Comes out pretty artistic starting with “helljo”. iPhone powers down mid-send. The jack is broken so I try to make it work with a rubber band around the case. Works sometimes, but not today.

7:03: Distracted by all the mail writing, I realize that the kettle hasn’t actually boiled the water. The dryfreezed coffee sort of floats on top of the water, like it doesn’t recognize the water as appropriate fluid. I decide to take a large sip and try to mix it in my mouth… Not what I would call a great success…

7:08: Try to convince my son to put on pants… He’s still learning the whole speaking thing, so I transcribed the following inner monologue from his point of view:

7:12: “Pants — Where we’re going, we don’t need pants !!”
7:13: “Raisins — suddenly have a strong craving for raisins. GET SOME PLEASE!”
7:13: “Didn’t we just have the pants conversation ?? Still a hard no on pants!”
7:14: “I specifically remember leaving a piece of bread and two raisins behind this chair. WHERE THE “#/”€ !! ARE THEY NOW??”
7:15: “Can I get a ETA on those raisins…??”
7:16: “We need to get going dad — could you please hustle the fuck up and get me some pants… jesus”

7:19: My 10 year old daughter is now awake. She passes me on her way to the bathroom. I say “morning” and kiss her on the head. She looks at me and mumbles “…your hair looks weird…”

7:33: I try to remember where I left my keys. We have a bowl in the kitchen dedicated for keys, but the last time keys were actually in that bowl, nobody knew what instagram was, and Uber was just a German word. I eventually find them in a teapot my son was playing with earlier, alongside a piece of old bread and some raisins...

7:44: Almost out the door…my son is suddenly very thirsty. He get’s a cup of water, takes a sip, looks me straight in the eyes, and pours the rest down his left shoe. Prison style…

7:51: New shoes on and we are now moving towards the bike… My son makes it very clear that he would like to walk instead of going on the bike, which adds 15 min to the trip to the daycare. I get a mental picture of us walking hand in hand, morning sun in our backs, casually chatting about our dreams and hopes, and indulge him on the walking:

7:55: Son found stick on road. Need to investigate what stick is capable of.

7:56: Stick is somewhat useless, as it doesn’t do anything.

7:59: “Make this stick pivot or I’ll loose it…”

8:01: I hold stick and try to make a funny voice…

8:01:23: Son looses it over stick-gate.

8:18: We arrive at the daycare. I give my son a kiss and a hug and whisper in his ear that I love him. He gets exited and not always knowing how to express joy, he slaps me pretty hard in the face. I give him the sad-angry look that means “not ok”… he looks remorseful and in an effort to make it better, he pokes his index finger into my left eye…

8:22: After handing over my son to the nice people at the daycare, who I admire for looking after him regularly, I head back towards my bike. On the way I stop at a coffee shop and order a large latte to go. Realize I forgot my wallet, and have to make a weird gentlemans agreement about me returning later to pay for it. I pause on a chair by the window, and take out my phone to see if I have any meetings today, but realize that I didn’t succeed in charging it. Stand up to walk out, but decide I should be able to sit on a chair for 5 minutes without looking at a screen of some sort. I sit down on a second chair closer to the door.

8:24: Realize that’s it’s a tricky operation to first sit down for 1 minute, stand up, move 10 feet, sit down again on different chair and do nothing but look at a wall, without looking like a complete idiot… I leave

8:31: On my bike to the office, but halfway my muscle memory kicks in with a note that my bag feels light.

8:32: Open my bag and find assorted selection of old bread, a rubber duck that makes a sound when you squeeze it (…which I do three times), a sweater I thought I lost and a week old newspaper.

8:43: I turn around to go back for my laptop…

9:01: Back home I decide to give the charger another go… open my computer while the phone charges. Spend 18 minutes looking for the right gif to use in a email to our product manager…

9:19: reply to a email from a confused product manager…. try to explain that the link should be to a funny gif and not a link to an article about child rash…

9:41: I get to the office — open my computer. We’re doing a mayor new release in our app, and the last days before we submit to the app store, it’s basically like being on Omaha beach June 6th 1944… skype is exploding with questions on UI from developers. I paste “let me check…” in all open chats and get some real coffee…

10:35: Getting busy now — developer says there’s a mismatch between a asset for iOS and Android.

10:41: I give up on finding the problem with the original asset and decide to make a new one from scratch.

10:45: Hand over the new asset to the developers and close the ticket. Close the .psd file, and decide not to save. Why would I… problem solved!

10:52: Problem was actually not in the asset but instead in the code. I replace the new asset with a backup of the old.

11:03: Actually the problem was in the asset. They need the new one again.

11:07: I make the new asset from scratch again.

11:32: Realize I’m late for a meeting.

11:37: Nope — I’m not needed in that meeting ..

11:42: Review my to-do list, but the only three items on it is “App”, “update buttons ” and “Feather”. Spend two minutes wondering what the feather part is about, before I cross of all three items…

12:03: Lunch… Told midway that I have some bread stuck in my beard…

12:41: Back at my desk. Feels more quiet after launch, so I decide to get started on a landingpage for the new release.

12:57: Handle a few more questions from development.

13:54: Remember reading something about how important is it to “sweat the details”, so I set all UI tickets for the release to “Urgent”…

13:55:… but then I remember something about the importance of shipping and moving fast and breaking stuff, so I reset all of them to “normal”

15:21: Presenting two new designs to product manager and developers.

15:22: Try to justify large amount of whitespace with an analogy to the architecture of an old english prison …

15:23: …

15:24: I draw a Venn Diagram showing the difference between informing the user clearly and whitespace…. but forget that there’s supposed to be something in the middle where the circles overlap…

15:27: Product manager tells me I have some bread stuck in my beard…

15:56: Spend the rest of the day trying to find the perfect blur setting for the top part of the new landingpage. Settle on 18.3, but decide not to make any final decisions… might feel different tomorrow with a fresh pair of eyes…

16:23: Get a text from my girlfriend saying “Dinner ?” I reply “Yes — please” knowing she means what we should eat tonight. Get a new text saying “Funny — You handle dinner …”

16:44: Bike home. Stop at the grocery store and buy rice, milk, broccoli, bananas and coconut milk.

17:23: #”%€& — I forgot to buy chicken… I remember the thing where TV-chefs are able to whip up a three course dinner from two granola bars and half a lemon. Surely I can do the same… I got exactly 7 minutes before my son walks into the kitchen, opens a drawer, picks out a spoon and sits on the table to do a mental countdown with his eyes…

19:15: Feedback from family “We love bananas and tuna as much as the next family… but not warm and not mixed in coconut milk…” I tell them that living at the frontline of fusion cuisine is a constant battle… they need to widen their horizon…

19:57: Try to get my son to sleep — he just learned the numbers two, five and eight and he’s very excited about it. He chants those three numbers for a period of 13 minutes straight, before drifting off…

20:21: Open my laptop to answer some emails about the upcoming release, but the numbers two, five and eight keeps looping in my head… Close it again.

20:42: Suddenly remember that I owe for the coffee. Rush down to the coffee shop and see that the same barista is still there. I pay for the coffee, and the barista smiles at me and says:

“…You seem to have a piece of bread stuck in your beard…”

Questions or concerns? I’m right here on twitter: @aweiland

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