Coming fresh out of university often feels like the beginning of a new chapter and the new possibilities job-hunting can bring you. Of course, this isn’t the only route to take after you graduate and it may be better to take a break or try out something new. Here’s how you can still remain productive after you graduate from architecture school.
What are productive habits?
After graduating, you’ll find yourself at a point of self-evaluation for when you work on your CV or portfolio. You’ll be thinking about what you can offer a potential employer, the kinds of skills you have and why they should hire you. But sometimes this can take time.
Productive habits are something I didn’t really start working on till after I left university. Essentially, it’s the stuff that you do on a day-to-day basis that will allow you to work more efficiently – thus being productive. For architecture students, habits like sketching daily or working on your model making skills can be a great pillar of some key skills that could shape you as a professional.
I strongly believe in building your skills as much as possible. The number of things I’ve tried is far bigger than those I have stuck with but it’s made for an amazing experience and opportunity. For example, by creating branding and digital assets for my family business, I was able to grow my skills in graphic design further, even freelancing on PeoplePerHour and actually creating a brand of my own. Now, it’s a great talking point and added skill on my CV which employers are surely interested in. It’s the age of technology and firms are becoming increasingly open to employing students who have a varied skill set.
Habits are also part of a bigger system. This is something that author James Clear talks about in his book Atomic Habits. Instead of setting goals, create systems for yourself. The reason for this is that usually, goals don’t help us actually do anything. Creating actionable steps towards those goals is a more productive way of doing things because you can actually make real progress instead of telling yourself that XYZ is your goal.
For example, a habit like writing every day for 20 minutes can open up other avenues and ideas that you wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise. Habits such as waking up early every day or writing a to-do list at the start of your day can also help your future self. By writing daily, you’re being creative whether it’s a journal or summary or a piece of fictional writing. This could then build your interest in writing as a whole and as you keep practising, your craft becomes better.
How can this be productive? Well, there are many architectural writing competitions, there are opportunities to write for blogs 😉 or even create your own content – I once wrote a 50,000-word book! These kinds of projects and side hobbies can lead to actual professional opportunities in a practice or elsewhere like becoming an editor.
5 Habits You Can Start Implementing Today
Write a to-do list every morning / every night.
Depending on how you work best, writing a to-do list at the beginning of your day or the night before can help with gaining more clarity and avoiding procrastination. I found myself often not knowing what to do or feeling lost with my project without having a guiding hand from my tutors. The key is also not to try and overachieve or give yourself too much to do because you end up falling in a loop of guilt and frustration if all the tasks aren’t complete.
It’s also okay not to complete every single thing on your to-do list. Instead, prioritising the tasks is a better idea. This way, you can reschedule some of the tasks either because they aren’t immediately due or aren’t as important as the others yet. If you find yourself working on too many high priority tasks in one day, you need to start looking after your future self.
Plan ahead for your future self
Of course, we can’t always prepare for the unexpected – but we can for the expected. For example, if you know there is a lecture about employment before you graduate, then make an effort to take a look at your CV and portfolio beforehand so that you can attend the lecture with some questions. If you’re thinking about the next step and questioning what you can do right now to prepare for it, you’ll find that when the time comes, you’ll be less panicked because you’ve prepared for it.
Prioritise time for yourself
Yes, this is productive. Building yourself as a person is equally as important as developing your skills and putting in the effort to take courses or learn something new. If you make this a habit during university, even better! We need to take control of the time we spend on things and not let it get consumed by trying to keep up in the race or trying to achieve too much too quickly. It also lets you set a base standard so that when you go into practice, you know there are certain boundaries and your time is your time.
Work towards a goal – with a clear system!
There is an awful sense of uncertainty that comes with finding a job, so if you are in that position, you never know when you could land an interview and get the job. In the meantime, it could be a good thing to work on a goal with a timeframe of about 1-3 months so think about something achievable in that timeframe. If you do end up falling behind because of other things that crop up, don’t fret.
Get off social media
This is something I’m personally working towards. Of course, being a content creator you would think I’m constantly on Instagram but for the most part, I’m not. I love consuming content as much as the next person but I have this annoying habit of literally scrolling through my feed when my mind wanders off during writing. (I’ve done it whilst writing this very blog post too). Social media is a great tool for many things like inspiration and learning but when you’re stuck in that hypnotised state it doesn’t do much for your productivity. Learn the art of restraint and focusing more on what’s going on around you.
Most graduates, like myself, will have one general focus – getting a job. That can be a good goal to work towards but remember that there are several other things you can be doing to make that final outcome even better. There are also a number of routes you can take to get there. Doing an internship for a design company or launching your own Etsy store are fantastic achievements and don’t need to hinder your chances at reaching that goal.
By building productive habits you can utilise all these skills for the rest of your life – how incredible is that! Us architects-in-training already have more skills than the generation before us what with the explosion of social media and content creating in the last decade. You might even have skills you don’t realise are skilled. I believe that your habits can shape you as a person and if you’re stuck on what kinds of habits to build – apart from the killer list I gave you, it might be a good idea to turn to your hobbies.
Having a hobby that can take away your stress or a hobby that will make you money or even a hobby that keeps you fit could each have their own set of habits that are derived from working on these hobbies. Also remember, even if you’re not a graduate, these habits don’t have an expiry date or a minimum qualification! When you choose to start or stop is up to you – as long as you have some sort of check-in system with you.
Something I’ve found incredibly productive is saving the content I read, watch and listen to. I’ve never been one to take notes for the sake of taking notes but it has proven to be so helpful having a whole library of ideas, systems, references to keep in my own little library – plus the added notes from myself!
Let me know if you are going to implement any of these productive habits and make sure to come and say hello on Instagram 😃