Who cares about your workflow?

I like to start working in the early morning with the minimum amount of items on my desk. A MacBook Air, a 4K monitor, and a wireless mouse. No matter how well I clean up my desk at the end of my workday, I'll start spreading things back on it when I start working the next morning.

The creative process is messy. You might sketch with your hands and prototype with your computer, copy-paste text and images, or note down what you need to do on a piece of paper. Files, sheets, and work tools end up scattered around your physical and virtual desktops.

Part of our work will inevitably end up in the trash or archived on a folder. What's discarded is essential to get the work done and a potential source of future inspiration but not part of the finished piece.

We need the quick-and-dirty as much as we need the refined, careful mockup. The draft and the revision. The process of making is somewhat chaotic. Creativity is messy and there's little room for cleanliness, as it might add friction to our process. The focus should be on making. But we can save time later by organizing and cleaning up while we make. A systemized to store file versions so you don't have to find a place for them later; a trash can right next to your desk so you can trash scrap paper as you go.

The deliverable—the final final—is, hopefully, always clear and pristine. You hide the crap and leave the final printout on the table by itself. I often do this at my desk, I reset. I take everything out except for my laptop, mouse, and monitor, and even though I'll need my charger eventually, I clear the cache and start from scratch. It's a simple way to remove visual distractions.

But, really, Who cares about your workflow? Well, it's mainly you, and perhaps a few others. We often overvalue how we did our work—it's where our efforts lie—but people want to see the shiny artifact. The ones who care about how you did it are the ones willing to replicate your creative process (and the uber-curious). For them, your workflow—the steps that brought you here—is useful and didactic, or simply an interesting thing to learn from.

November 19, 2019
Nono Martínez Alonso

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Pencil sketch of Nono Martínez Alonso.