SQUIRRELLING
People & Culture
Title: Mindful Design (AKA. 'Squirrelling')
Location: Manchester, UK
(Currently has over 1,500 views on the global Pecha Kucha site!)
Squirrelling is a made up term, describing a set of activities creative people can do to avoid stress. It was observed at Common Good, from the team of amazing design professionals at work. I shaped the argument and presented it as Pecha Kucha talk in Manchester.
WHAT IS IT?

Squirrelling, in the world of design, means to quietly clean & plan in order to survive challenging times (like winter, a very challenging brief or a deadline).

At the time I wrote: "Like squirrels, our best designers can be seen storing material at various locations and return to them throughout a project to maintain their energy levels when resources (like time, motivation, drive, energy) are scarce."

It's awesome because it ensures
  • Considered deliverables
  • Control
  • Clarity of thought

However, it takes effort. It involves
  • Being as quiet as possible (to think)
  • Tidying up and throwing out (to de-clutter)
  • Gathering useful material (quantity over quality)
  • Organising & categorising useful assets (quality over quantity)
  • Sleeping over big decisions, ensuring nothing is done on the same day of organising, because it takes so long to organise!

Squirrelling is best done at the start of the project. Ideally by at least two designers.
Squirrelling is what you do before the chaos of creation starts. It's what you need to get lost in the consuming vortex of magic you're so good at. It's the responsible pre-step to anything wonderful.
What i love most about Squirrelling is that it's the opposite of a Sprint. It seems that everybody now is going 'yeah sprints are awesome', but what we should be saying is: 'Sprints are good for some things and Squirrelling is an alternative'. It's ok to take your time.
Lisa Barron, Head of UX at Common Good