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The Designer's Deserted Island Plan

I'm usually the first person to admit that I'm in way over my head on a project. I had all sorts of grand ideas over the holidays for homemade gifts. Two and a half hand-sewn, hand-painted pillows later, I realized that maybe I hadn't quite given this enough thought. Creatives like me tend to get excited about new ideas and dive right in - only to discover halfway through that we have no idea what we're actually doing. Remember as kids, you'd ask each other what top five things would you bring if you were stranded on a deserted island?  Well being stuck halfway through a design idea is kind of like that - there's no clear direction forwards or backwards - once you're in, there's no going back. So how do we keep ourselves from getting stranded in the proverbial sea of awesome ideas? I'm calling this The Deserted Island Plan - the emergency toolkit for stranded designs.  Keep these in mind next time you find yourself staring at that blank screen without any ideas how to move forward. 1. Nourishment. You're stranded on an island - what's the first thing you think of? Food. Design is like that - if you're not constantly feeding yourself ideas, you're going to eventually run out of energy to come up with your own. Reading design and creative magazines and blogs full of forward-thinking ideas gives you insight into new perspectives and things you might not have tried before. Web photo & idea sharing services like Pinterest are also great ways to get a lot of ideas quickly if you follow like-minded people. 2. Entertainment. Look, it gets boring on a deserted island.  Find something to do. Find an activity - I'm not saying stop working completely and go watch YouTube videos for an hour, but get up from your desk and take a lap around the office. Do some yoga at your desk. Pick the weirdest band you know and create a new station on Pandora. Do something, and then come back, and sometimes the ideas will come find you. 3. A Sidekick. It's always better to be miserable in pairs. Find someone to be your sounding board, to tell you if your ideas are stupid or brilliant. Even if they aren't another designer - sometimes that's even better, because non-designers will often see the obvious things that we creative people miss. 4. Blueprints. What if you knew how to make your own boat? There are tons of resources out there to give you the pieces you need to build the perfect idea. Stock templates, layouts, color palettes and photography are easy to come by, and with a little innovation they can the perfect design with your unique stamp on them. 5. A Radio. If your still stuck, send out an SOS. The design community is full of fabulous people who love to share their thoughts and ideas with the world. If you're really truly stuck - reach out to them. Find designers you can trust and make friends, because we really do love to help other people come up with amazing ideas that we couldn't have come up with alone.

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