Did you do your best today? — Max Sandelin

R: Can you introduce shortly yourself? Do you consider yourself more like a developer or a designer?

Max: Hi there! I’m Max Sandelin, a 21-year-old web developer and ui-designer from Sweden.

R: Do you consider yourself more like a developer or a designer?

Max: You have no idea how many times I’ve had someone ask me this question. I don’t want to dive in too deep on my personal opinions on labels of profession or personalities, the short story is that I really don’t like labeling myself.

I embrace the ever-changing nature of life which means I love change and growth. This, coupled with my love for doing whatever I feel is most fun, challenging or educational results in me not being able to define myself as more of anything. “Web Developer and UI-Designer” is as niched as I can define myself.

R: Do you do some ritual every day outside of work?

Max: Well I have a morning routine that I always try to improve upon and experiment with to find what works best for me.

Right now I get up at 4am and have a glass of water. I then start brewing some coffee and while that’s brewing I practice mindfulness for about 10–15 minutes. Then I grab the coffee to go and go for a morning walk.

Afterwards I grab a non-fictional book and read for 30 minutes to an hour before starting work for the day.

R: What do you do that allows you to work efficiently being able to finish all work stuff plus working on side project after work?

Max: For me it’s all about delegating the time for resting or working on side projects besides working on your main projects. I personally don’t think that there is a perfect balance between work and “free time” (free time in this case being side projects), since every day brings with it new situations and challenges that makes it difficult for your to spend the same amount of time and get the same amount of work done every day.

The most important thing for me is self-awareness, being aware of your actions throughout the day and reviewing the impact and results the day had on your work and your life.

Asking yourself “Did I do my best to..“ in different areas forces you to quantify “doing your best” and challenges you to always do your best. This makes it easier to feel like you make progress even though you didn’t do as much work as yesterday, but you tried just as hard if not harder.

R: What thought or tip would you give to yourself in the past?

Max: Just keep going. You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backward.

Have faith in yourself and in that the dots will connect in the future. Nobody knows what’s best for you but yourself. Just keep going and listen to your heart.

R: Any study tip for a high school, university student?

Max: I am pretty much self taught. School just gave me some general directions and occasional tests and then I blazed the trail because I loved design and programming. But for subjects that did not interest me I performed a lot worse. So to be honest I don’t have many tips for studying in school, because I don’t know how to study in school, only how to learn on your own.

What I can tell you is that if you want to be really good at either programming or design, you will have to spend a lot of time at home doing your own studying.

Doing things on your own, building your own things, coming up with your own solutions, learning things outside of class is what will set you apart from your peers.

R: What would you focus(work,love,life)on now if you would go back to high school time?

Max: The same thing. I would do the very same thing I did before. Because I don’t know where I would be if I didn’t do the things I did, what I would know or wouldn’t know if I didn’t learn from the countless mistakes that I’ve done. I am who I am because of the things I have done and the choices I’ve made. I understand the question and it’s intention but I can’t argue for what people should avoid doing. I believe people should make their own path, make mistakes and truly live life without reading some sort of manual.

R: How would you suggest someone to start designing now?

Max: Download a design program and just start. Draw a square, add some text and you’ve taken that first step that so many never do.

You don’t need to go to school or have artistic parents or relatives that have worked with design, just start. The beauty of design is taking existing things and morphing them into a completely new thing. Nothing is truly original because everything that we create was created from tiny parts that already existed. So to learn how to design a header, you have to copy the successful designs out there.

In the beginning you’ll be copying big things like a hero section or a full page design. But with time you’ll scale down to smaller and smaller things you copy until it’s a matter of 1 pixel deeper shadow or 4 pixels higher line height.

R: How did you plan out all your Instagram shots?

Max: I didn’t. I never plan out any shots. Everything I write comes from the heart, from whatever I experience or feel in any situation. And the photos are from whatever environment I’m working in.

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