Daily Design Challenge

When I started this challenge a few days ago, it was just something I was doing to give myself a kick in the pixie pants. But then something pretty super happened. I posted a couple designs on instagram (to hold myself accountable) and mentioned I was doing a “daily design challenge” and people perked up! They weren’t just interested in my journey–they were inspired to challenge themselves too! How freaking rad is that? So I’m making it a thing.

Daily Design Challenge by Fresh Paper Studios

Join me on instagram @freshpaperstudios

Before I get too carried away, let me pause, rewind, and start at the beginning.

A few days ago I was listening to some of Sean McCabe’s podcasts. (Side note: if you are a busy work-at-home type and you feel like you never have time to learn, take classes, read books, podcasts could be your new best friend. I listen while cutting paper. It’s awesome.) He mentioned this “Early wake, daily write” thing he’s doing. I thought “Ooo! I should wake early and write daily!” I actually really like getting up before everyone else. Pre-baby, I was an early riser by choice. Post-baby, I was an early riser by force. So when Olivia started sleeping until 7, I followed suit in an effort to catch up on 3 years of lost sleep. But I’m finally at the point that I can go to bed a little early and wake up even just half an hour before everyone and really enjoy that time! So wouldn’t it be great to use that time for a daily challenge?

Only I could feel in my gut that writing daily was not the challenge for me at this time. Down the road? Sure! I love writing and I’d love to do it more often. I think it’s super important. But there’s something more important and more urgent for my personal fulfillment and my business right now.

See, I’ve been feeling a little slumpy lately. Or maybe a lot slumpy. I’ve mentioned before how easy it is to fall into the routine of working IN a business rather than ON it. And despite all of the time I spend reading about business, I’m not actually making time to follow through. Sure, I have legit excuses. Toddler. Busy shop. Dishes. But at the end of the day, they’re still excuses.

And while there are a lot of things I’d like to do to work on my business, (make a marketing plan, systematize various processes, define my vision,) at the heart of my slump there’s this: I don’t feel creative anymore. I think a huge part of that is that I don’t devote time to designing new stuff. Sure, I take on custom projects here and there and that’s fun. But I have never made it routine to just spend time designing for the sake of designing. There’s always an end-goal in mind, and sometimes I think that gets in the way of being truly creative.

So before I talk your head off, here are the rules of the challenge!  Please join me! Sunday is June 1st, so if you like to start things at the beginning of the month, you can wait until then. But I’d urge you to just start now. (If you’re reading this at the end of a busy day and “now” means tomorrow morning, that’s fine too!) There is nothing magical about the first of the month–and please please don’t wait until the first of the year! Start now while you’re thinking about it. While you’re motivated. Before you have time to find a reason not to.

Daily Design Challenge Rules

1. Wake up early
2. Design something

And that’s it! Okay, really, I need a few more guidelines, so I’ll share those too. But if you just do those two things–imagine how you’ll feel at the end of the week! At the end of the month! At the end of a whole year of just waking up and designing something!

More rules if you’re a person who likes rules:

1. Wake up early – it doesn’t have to be really early! Just 5 minutes earlier than you typically get up. You can increase it to 10 later, then to 20 or 30 or an hour. But start with 5 minutes. The key to the challenge is getting your design on before doing anything else. (You can make coffee first. Let the dog out if you must. But don’t check your email or facebook or instagram or pinterest.) So unless you already have plenty of down time in the morning before you start doing your daily thing, you probably have to get up a few minutes earlier.

2. Design something – ANYTHING! If you design invitations, sure, design some invitations. But also try designing a logo. Or a mug. Or wallpaper. The goal is not just to design a whole bunch of new products you can sell–although I’d bet money that you will end up with several! The goal is just to exercise your creative spirit. Like if I were a sporty type I might make the metaphor that athletes don’t just show up for the game, they devote time to daily practice.

3. Starting is better than not starting – You might not have enough time to complete an entire design each day. Don’t let that hold you back from starting. 5 minutes of designing still stretches your creative muscle more than 5 minutes of checking facebook. Partial designs are totally acceptable!

4. Perfection not required – I really struggled with today’s design (I wanted to make an image that’s about the challenge. A design that represents a design challenge? Talk about pressure!) But I’m putting it out there anyway. It’s not perfect. It’s not my best work. But it doesn’t have to be. The point is that I got up and I designed something. And it doesn’t SUCK. (Right? RIGHT?!) But even if it did suck, it’s important to just do it–just for the practice.

5. Share – Everyone knows the best way to hold yourself accountable is to tell people you’re going to do something. I’m posting all of my daily designs on instagram. And I know there are at least a handful of people expecting to see my design each day. That is so much more powerful than just having a goal in my own private head. I don’t know why we let it be acceptable to let ourselves down, but I know I’m constantly breaking promises to myself. Strangerfriends on the internet, though? Well I’ll be damned if I’m going to let them down!

fresh paper studios daily design challenge days one through three

Days 1-3 of my daily design challenge

So there ya go! That’s what I’ll be up to for a while. (Don’t worry, I’m still going to do my mompreneur thing too! Sorry I’ve been absent for a couple Mondays.) I haven’t set an end date like a month or 100 days or anything. I guess I’m not ready to give myself permission to quit just yet. Please join me in the challenge! Everything’s more fun with a friend, so I’d love to see what you’re up to. The easiest way is to get hashtaggy on instagram. Post your designs each day and tag with #dailydesignchallenge And if you’re like me and doing this to get yourself out of a slump, the adorable Polkadot Paper Company came up with #getoutofthatdesignslump (cute, right?)

I can’t wait to see what you design!

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6 thoughts on “Daily Design Challenge

  1. I totally LOVE it! I can’t wait to get started and join in on the fun! What a great idea to get out of the slump. And frankly I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who gets into that awful slump! Its so bananas that as creative entrepreneurs even have to deal with that. But the struggle is real and I feel guilty for it all the time! So cheers to this fun adventure, I can’t wait to see what everyone creates when they are just designing for the sake of it. This is seriously like the best college homework I never had! ha Thanks Emily for coming up with this whole thing!

  2. Fell off after our first connection because I got a bit sick. 😦 So happy to be back to check your blog. Totally LOVE this idea and I’m going to really try this out. Do I have to wake up early or can I just continue on before going to bed seeing as I go to bed around 3AM? 🙂

    • Kimberly you definitely don’t have to wake up early! Hahaha. I’ve only been able to this month because my daughter’s started sleeping in. (So it’s not really getting up early. Just getting up before her.) It does help to have a set time, though, so it’s routine! Whatever that time is… is whatever works for you!

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