On Finding Joy in the Unexpected and Making the Decision to Be Busy

Earlier this month, I attended the inaugural Dribbble Hangtime conference in Boston, MA. I had a lot of fun, and thought I’d share a couple of the ideas I took away from the event.

Kelli Anderson showed some of the most inspiring work of the day. She’s been exploring paper as a medium lately, and her work is fun and unexpected.

For example, the night before the conference, Kelli published This Book is a Planetarium, a beautiful activity book that acts as a miniature planetarium, speaker, musical instrument, decoder, and more:

Another example is this paper record player she made for a friend’s wedding invitation:

Her talk made me consider how we can inject that same element of surprise into our work. What could we do for WordPress.com that would elicit the joyful reaction someone might get when they open one of Kelli’s books? How can we push the boundaries of the web and of our apps, similar to how Kelli pushes the boundaries of paper?

I’m not sure, but I’d love to figure it out.

Debbie Millman’s talk was another high point of the conference. For those who aren’t familiar, Debbie is the host of Design Matters: a long-running, well-respected podcast on design and beyond. If you’d like to get started with the podcast, you might want to check out Debbie’s interview with Automattic’s own John Maeda, from way back in 2006 (You’ll notice that John was making Lord of the Rings references back then, too 😉).

For me personally, the most illuminating moment of Debbie’s talk was when she discussed the idea that “Busy is a decision.” She pointed out that if you say you’re too busy to do something, that’s a bit of a lie. There’s always something you could have rescheduled, deprioritized, or skipped to accommodate the task at hand.

Her observation isn’t meant to sound negative, or to place blame. Instead, it’s meant to help you realize that when you say you’re too busy, maybe you simply don’t want to do the thing you’re referring to. That’s ok, and it’s a good thing to be aware of.

Being honest about what you don’t want to do can help you realize what you do want to do, and is key to being content in your life and work.


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