deadlines and sleep

As you may have noticed I’ve fallen woefully behind on my posting duties here. This is not for lack of trying however. I have at least a dozen “drafts” in my blog feed that are in various stages of total crap completion. Though finding the time to complete a thought, not to mention a whole blog post, is running scarce lately. I suppose this would seem a good problem to have, but as I continue the flip-flopping from day-job to moonlighting the problem I am most often running head-long into is one I haven’t experienced really since my freshman year of college:

meet my deadlines or sleep.

I feel like this most days.

If you’re an Architect or designer or artist or professional of any flavor, you know as well as I do which one of those wins out almost 100% of the time. Deadlines. After all, if we didn’t meet our deadlines our clients won’t pay us, nor will they be likely to bring more business down the road.

Some of you know my story. The short version is I work full time for a small commercial firm in Jacksonville, Florida; I teach at a local community college; and I moonlight as a Architectural Designer. I’m also a husband to a very VERY understanding and sympathetic wife, and father to 3 seriously awesome kids. The question I’m asked most is “How do you balance everything and stay sane? What’s your secret?”

Well, first, who said I was sane? Anyone who willingly takes on the kind of schedule I do is clearly not playing with a full deck of cards.

As far as “my secret”…I really don’t think their is one. To illustrate what I mean, my wife has me hooked on this new reality show called Breaking Pointe about a ballet company and the “behind the scenes” workings of the ballet biz. And by hooked, I mean obviously she wants to watch it so if I wish to sit near her I must watch also. In the show one of the dancers is describing the difficulties of dating outside the ballet world. The frustration centers around regular people not getting it or thinking that dancing is more important, blah blah blah. Stay with me – the thing to note here is that when you are passionate about your profession, your art, your craft, whatever, then you simply make it work. There is no secret formula, no magical vortex that I step into to freeze time and multiple my productivity (that would be so sweet though). I just get it done.

The simplest truths are always the most profound. Architecture, like any other profession and art, takes a dedication that very few people understand, nor can they sympathize with our desire to spend countless hours in front of a computer or hunched over a drafting table scribbling out one design idea after another for clients with even less sympathy than the average person for what we put ourselves through in order to meet a deadline. But it’s what we do. It’s what we’re called to do. I can be exhausted and annoyed after 15 minutes of just about any activity, but 18 hours straight of nothing but architecture and design? Hell, I’m just getting started.

Anyone else feel this way or am I all alone? :-\

6 thoughts on “deadlines and sleep

  1. We lead parallel lives. I have my own practice, I teach part-time, I have a wife and son, a trustee at my church and so on. Most nights during the week when school is in session, I work until Midnight or later after my wife and son go to bed. I don’t really think about it or complain, it’s just what you have to do. My father died when I was almost 5 years old, but I do remember he held two jobs. I can’t brag about a big income, but I feel I can at least do what my father did for his family. Kudos for your work ethic and I bet you’re a great ballet dancer too.

    • “dance” has never been a word used in description of any movement I’ve ever done. My wife on the other hand is an absolutely beautiful dancer.

      It seems we do lead parallel lives. One of us should walk perpendicular so we can grab a beer. 😛 Bad architecture humor. 😉

      Like you said, it’s just what we have to do. And, lets be honest, we wouldn’t really have it any other way. Right? 🙂 Ok, back to work. Deadlines.

  2. You hit a chord there and as in every architect’s life the contention with sleep and deadlines will always be! I reflect with glee after grad. project defense I had to do 3days of sleep at a stretch on such luxuries are no longer available in architectural practice.
    I like what you’re doing! Only sometimes I think you have a 30hr day! Keep the flag of architectural musings flying higher!

    • Thanks! I appreciate the kind words. But a 30 hour day wouldn’t be nearly long enough. Maybe if I had a 8 day week…well, 10 would be better. 😛

  3. Indeed – “…when you are passionate about your craft, … you simply make it work.” You are not alone. I don’t have a schedule as packed as yours, but knowing that I have the potential (as well as the desire) to do similar things, I look up to people like you, Lee, and others as examples to inspire me. I would say that you also don’t give yourself options, and that’s one way of ensuring productivity, as well as creativity. The options I speak of are things like: the option to “wait until it’s perfect before moving forward,” “rely on something/someone else to help provide for the family,” “doing this later,” etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. And it’s good!

    • ETA: And since you recently-ish returned from vacation, and you’re a runner, there are little worries about your suffering burnout. 🙂

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