Take Stock of Your Narrative with This 30 Minute Activity

Turn your view upside down. 'Miner on the Moon' installation by artist Alex Chinneck

“I’m too busy.” “I don’t have time.” “I’m tired.” How many times do you say this, feel this, express this every week? What are these phrases really masking? I’ve been using these phrases to excuse myself of writing a post for the past two months while burying myself in other work. “I’m too busy” is code word for “I’m not going to address questions I need to ask myself about this blog.” All the procrastination has built up. The questions continue to knock at the door, getting louder every day. Enough is enough. I’m kicking procrastination aside and getting into it.

Revisit Intentions

My initial vision for Design Affects was to become a site to share projects, practices, and people in social impact design. Through it, I wanted to meet other people that were interested in this type of work. I also wanted to use the blog to find paid work in the field especially since I was moving to a brand new city with only a handful of contacts.

In the 18 months since my first post was published, all three goals have been met. I’ve written about social impact design projects, practices, and people here on Design Affects. I’ve connected with a ton of designers in America, Europe, and beyond. I’m getting paid to write and contribute to many more places beyond my blog. With my initial goals achieved, I’m faced with new questions: What is the new purpose Design Affects is serving? How is it contributing to the larger vision I have for myself and my career? And equally important, how is it benefiting my audience (you!)?

Enlist Help

To begin to chip away at these questions, I am working with a friend (urban designer and social media extraordinaire Patrick McDonnell) on revisiting and refining my identity. We’re addressing questions like: Is who I am, or who I strive to be being communicated clearly? Are the different projects serving me and where I want to go? If not, how can I alter them to meet my purpose? Use the formula below to revisit your personal narrative and map how the projects are contributing to it. The results will be insightful!

Perform This 30-minute Audit

First write out all the projects you are involved in along with one for yourself, which will become your brand. Mine were: Kapow_Katie (identity), Design Affects (project), Impact Design Hub (project), and PUBLIC Journal (project).

Next, answer the following questions for each project and your personal identity. Ask a friend or colleague to answer these, too. Their responses will surprise you!

Description: Why are you doing it?

Audience: Who are you trying to reach?

Role: What part do you play?

Sponsor: Who is supporting or funding you?

Scale: What parts of the world are you trying to reach?

Frequency: How often are you working on this?

Social Media: What are the various channels where you communicate this project?

Once these are filled out, compare and discuss with your friend. What isn’t being communicated? Are there redundancies? Is anything sticking out like a sore thumb?

Take One Intentional Action

After reviewing and discussing Patrick’s and my own responses, I realized that Design Affects Twitter handle was redundant with my personal identity. This blog is the heart of that project so I’ve removed all the social media channels for Design Affects and redirected communication through my personal channels. Just like getting rid of an old dress that doesn’t fit you well or an uncomfortable pair of shoes, shedding excess is liberating. It provides space to get closer to who you are and how you are communicating without masking behind other identities.

I’d love to hear from you. How did you find this activity? What overlaps or redundancies were unearthed? What are doing to condense, refine, and communicate your identity more clearly?

Image source: dezeen

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9 Responses to Take Stock of Your Narrative with This 30 Minute Activity

  1. Jason says:

    You’ve narrowed down a clutter-filled topic into a concise guide. Great tips!

  2. Bryan Mock says:

    Took a little longer than a half hour, wait only forty minutes, felt longer.

    Anyway it looks daunting writing out all your projects but go through it. It’s super helpful.

    I came away knowing what was overlapping that shouldn’t be and found ways where combining projects makes total sense.

    Drew up a quick strategy to fit my goal frequencies into a sort of rhythm.

    My mind already feels less cluttered and more organized.

    Thanks Katie.

    • Katie says:

      This is great feedback–thanks, Bryan! Happy to hear that it was helpful even if it felt like it took longer than 40 mins. Cheers to feeling less cluttered and more organized!

  3. Grace says:

    Just completed the 30 minute inventory, it was great to see everything on one page and reflect on why I’m doing them, and the ones I need to focus more on.
    Thanks Katie!

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