Project/Practice, Both/And

As I try to move my work forward with many competing interests (equity and diversity, sustainable and regenerative design, design thinking, creativity, systems change, writing, drawing, speaking, art making, parenting, home care and gardening, to name a few)  within limited or finite time (twenty four hours in a day, seven days in a week), I realize that I am faced with the issues that every modern-day knowledge worker faces of trying to think and act productively in a fast-paced world.

This short piece is a contemplation of the methods – is there a better way to move ideas and action on a personal level? The idea of ‘project’ is appealing to me and quite effective – it has a beginning (always a source of excitement for me), a middle and an end (sometimes the more challenging stage of a project for me). A project creates the opportunity to focus on a large endeavor and break it up into smaller ‘task widgets’ to tackle them and the project schedule allows for marking the flow of time into smaller sections that I call ‘time widgets’  in which to accomplish the work identified in the project at hand.

Then there is the notion of a ‘practice’ and an ongoing process, where one can engage with regularity in chosen  work, such as an art practice where art-making happens on a regular basis. The beauty of a focus on practice and/or process is that it creates a commitment and carves time for work to be done in a regular way with (hopefully) an opportunity for enjoyment of the moment rather than being more goal-driven as a ‘project’ focus may imply. Perhaps it also allows for emergence of creative work in a more intentional way.

Is one better than the other? I seem to need both project and practice – the former to drive timed, fast-paced, action and  accomplish  certain kinds of work and the latter, to allow for learning and continuous development in organic ways. Both are related to each other, a practice can include projects within it, and a project can lead to or fuel a practice. Both project and practice are essential in moving my work forward in the world.

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