When Life Gives You Lemons

T.F.W The Project Goes Sour

Panic is setting in, the brain eating deadlines are tearing down the barricades of expectations and high hopes. The project smells like spoiled milk, and you have to present it smelling like a fresh bakery. These highly frustrating moments are important, as they can really determine the life or death of the project; but if you can add some fresh life into your design either in the middle of the disaster or prevent the disaster all together then everything can be a little bit more okay. Here are some recommendations in adding that new car smell to a sour design, as well as preventing sourness from eating away your project.

1: Return to Your Inspiration.

It’s easy to get carried away after you’ve begun executing your ideas. One interesting approach leads to another and you’re soon veering away from your target. Return to your sources that you’ve gathered to get back on track. Too many times I’ve undervalued my moodboards only to realize that it’s the answer I need in bringing sparks back into my design.

Too many times I’ve undervalued my moodboards

2: Learn Something New

Sometimes you need a different perspective or approach. Learning something new brings a fresh dose of new thinking when it can relate to your concept or piece of work. This can be tricky, because it can only be done if you have extra time play but the value that can come from it is worth it. Places like Skillshare, Tuts+, and Udemy are amazing places for extending knowledge and creativity to give you that 180 degree turn in freshening your process.

3: Breathe

This is about being a human. Within any process, pressures become tighter and days become shorter to where taking a step back to breathe seems difficult. If you can, you should be able to, take at least two minutes (two small minutes, you’ll be okay) and breathe. It’s crucial to retain your humanness for yourself as well as for others around you. Sometimes I need to remember the stars, to look up and breathe, then return to kicking ass.

take at least two minutes (two small minutes, you’ll be okay) and breathe.
Remember To Look At The Stars

Taking enough care of the moments in between the process can bring a little bit of fresh life that can sweeten up any soured flavor. While these are nice within projects turning whack, it can be even better for you to avoid the whole souring from happening by taking some precautions at the very beginning of the process.

1: Set A Clear Course. Craft A Good Idea

This is easy to rush, as planning is exhaustive and time can be a crunch but it is important to have a carved out plan ready where everyone understands the route for the journey. If there is a lot of uncertainty, your ship will begin to be pulled in multiple directions and there becomes a risk of draining more energy from the process. Yes, deadlines eat away the time but if you take enough time and care to prepare well and execute a crisp idea then your voyage will be a lot smoother.

2: Stop Lingering. Communicate

So many decisions arise in the design process, and each can have a significant amount of density when it comes to the outcome. What if you make the wrong decision? What if…what if...what if? Becoming paranoid about the ‘what if’ will ruin you; make timely decisions and back it up with your research/expertise.


Communication (and lots of it) is usually a good antidote. If you’re on a team, then you don’t have to do much in reaching for lines of feedback and advice; and if you’re not on a team, work up a little more effort and make that call or send that e-mail to start a conversation. When those outlets are not possible, go to the internet where communities are galore. If communication isn’t encouraged, then leave that dark place and find some people who love doing quality work. It has always been refreshing when I have been able to talk through things and have an on-going conversation throughout the project.

Communication (and lots of it) is usually a good antidote.

I can suggest a lot more things, and you can probably suggest more appropriate practices — or even better, tell me I’m wrong. But, there is value in taking good care in how a process is prepped, executed, and released. It prevents projects from becoming sour nuances as well as making already soured projects become a little less sour. Yeah, shit happens and everything can’t be 100% smooth; but if there is a respect for the process, your mind, and your team then there can be potential for a nurtured product that brings joyful tears to your eyes when it comes to the day you open up the doors and let it go out into the wild.