— Written By Joff Lumb —
Sometimes, during a design project, the mind stalls and you lose momentum. Sometimes, your mind never really starts, and you are left trying to remember what momentum even is. This can be a very frustrating time, and can lead to all sort of feelings. Panic that you won’t be able to create something you’ll love, and self doubt that you’re even capable of it.
You have lost momentum.
“the impetus and driving force gained by the development of a process or course of events.”
This damaging lack of momentum is not just true for the design world, it can be seen everywhere. A perfect example of this is sport. All too often we witness an individual or a team lose any trace of momentum, performance tumbles, results don’t go their way, and neither does luck. Opposing to this you have the individual or team that is riding the wave of momentum, performance levels are high, and so is self-confidence. Leicester City winning the Premier League springs to mind.
Sometimes in design the flow of the mind is effortless, a breeze as ideas and executions are applied together to create real progress. Sometimes though, the whole process feels forced, choppy and lacking in any real productivity. Hours can fly by as you struggle with ideas, and shuffle to grasp it is what you are trying to create.
Fortunately, there are things you can do for when momentum is low, the mind has stalled or won’t even start – give it a push.
1. Create > Feedback > Create> Feedback
At the start, don’t focus on the little details. Focus on the concept and the idea. The little details are hugely important, but can sometimes slow your momentum in terms of the bigger picture. Create something, or multiple things that can be constructively critiqued.
2. Collaborative Critique
As soon as you have created something worth talking about, gather your team and talk. Presenting and rationalising your work to other people at this point, away from your computer, allows you to see the woods, not just the trees.
3. Ride the wave
As momentum builds then progress will slowly build too. So it is important to just carry one. Don’t open that email and don’t step into that meeting. Maintain the momentum because you never know how long it will last.
4. Step away constructively
If momentum has disappeared then it may be time to walk away from your computer. The frustration of getting nowhere may still be on your mind, but try and distance yourself from this while still maintaining a constructive and creative space. Read, meditate, go for a walk, talk. You’ll generally find a renewed drive and focus once you return.
Sometimes on the search for momentum you can lose focus of what it is you are actually trying to create. You are no longer on the right path, you are in a field somewhere, you can’t even see the path. Time to remind yourself of the project goals.
6. Find inspiration
Momentum can begin from smallest things. A layout in a magazine, a typeface on a poster, a piece of architecture, a snapshot of a UI. So keep your eyes open and maintain a healthy interest in all things creative. You never know what might ignite your momentum, and where that momentum could take you.