I’ve heard many people say that life is meant to be lived, and I completely agree with that notion. Heck, it’s why I do what I do now instead of doing what I’ve done in the past.
But after reading the first bit of Nick Wynja’s new book, Coffee Shop Contemplations, I think I’ve found a kindred spirit in the idea of designing a life first, then going out and living it. (Among other things.)1
Nick (the writer behind Hack/Make) writes a lot about design in the first portion of the book, and what he writes makes a ton of sense. As for my thoughts on the matter, in order to have the best life to live you do need to spend some time designing it first. That may mean using specific tools to help you with said design process, but it still means that design comes first.
Let’s look at the place you live. If it doesn’t meet your standards as-is, you take steps to design it so that it can. That can be as small as some organizational shifts ot a fresh coat of paint. It can be big, like adding a whole new floor or knocking down walls to open things up. Regardless, in order to make it the place you feel comfortable calling home, you need to spend some time on design first.
I do think you can spend too much time on design, though. I think that if you’re constantly designing your life then you truly aren’t living it – or making anything with it. The idea isn’t to design for the sake of designing, it’s to design for the sake of giving yourself what you need to do something great with your life.
The details aren’t always in the design, but without spending time on design, the details may never be visible at all. That’s because they’ll be buried behind a whole lot of things that get in the way.
Good design allows for form and function to work together and not against each other. That doesn’t just go for the gadgets on your person. It also goes for you.
1 I may be wrong, but Nick’ll straighten me out if he thinks so.