Five traits that go against an Architect’s productivity and well-being
Why try to hide it? We architects have our shortcomings.
Our education and a sort of “professional culture” are often manifested in very specific, deeply-rooted ways. Some of these traits do us harm. They go against our productivity and even our well-being.
Let me clarify that this post owes to unscientific and, in all likelihood, biased observations within the fairly broad range of my sampling of professionals and studios.
This is a classic. There is some romanticism in leaving a few drops of your blood among the stones of each structure, as if it were a wall of Phocaea. But it isn’t sustainable. If you put your health at risk, you’ll end up not being able to work.
The oftentimes celebrated custom of finishing things in an act of sacrifice and sleep deprivation, weathered by the projects turned in at university, can be replaced by enhanced effectiveness and respect for your organism as well as those of your collaborators.
Too much perfectionism
Projects never end. They can always be improved upon. There is always something that can be further defined, or perhaps once it is all finished we have to re-print all of the competition panels to make the line come out grey.
Each project tends to expand and occupy the amount of time one has to complete it, and even more. We need to learn to make the cut-off at a reasonable degree of perfection and shun the Nirvana Fallacy.
Learn to delegate
We were taught that we had to control each and every aspect of a building design. You know, from the urban scale right down to the door handle. This at times translates into being on top of everything to the extent you are actually able to cover nothing at all.
As hard as it is to leave your creation in someone else’s hands…someone else who may have talents that you don’t, delegating, and delegating well is much more effective and leads to better results. Johann Sebastian Bach did. If he could without anyone accusing him of his cantatas not being his, then all of us can.
Not saying “no”
This is a corollary to delegation. As we want to control everything, we tend to burden ourselves with tasks that aren’t even our own in the design and building process.
In an indeterminate structure, the thickest bar is the one to bear the heaviest load (Eduardo Torroja will be rolling over in his grave), and that is what we do. It is wiser to say “no” to certain things.
We are usually truly allergic to defining processes or to automating certain tasks. We are craftsmen.
Instating and optimising work will not destroy our creativity. It will not turn us into production lines or straightjacket us. Contrarily, it will highlight our qualities.
Productivity benefits us.
And there is more, but I am running out of space and we shouldn’t come down too hard on ourselves either.
I believe the outlook is changing and gradually we are becoming convinced that productivity is important for better professional performance and for our own well being.
We also have to compete, among ourselves, with other professionals that elbow into our corner of the market, and with professionals from elsewhere around the globe.
And we have to do all of this without loosing our best creative qualities.
Just like Bach, who in addition to being a genius was also incredibly productive.
Photo de © Kelly Sikkema in Unsplash
Text translated by Beth Gelb