Do you have a spouse, partner, friend or family member that you literally have no idea what they do on a daily basis – what their job really entails? Maybe you know their job title, but do you really know what they are doing between the hours of 8:00 and 5:00 every Monday through Friday. Surely I am not the only one, because I know I am totally guilty – right, Dan? (Dan is my husband of almost four years, and I still cannot fully explain to anyone exactly what he does at work every day. It may be a little embarrassing for me to admit, but of course it doesn’t make me any less proud!) Okay, I’m done sucking up. But it got me thinking, there has got to be questions about “what makes a project planner?” I asked Dan to come up with some questions for planners (because I know he has trouble explaining what I do too).
1. Here’s a pretty standard question to start. What does a typical day for you look like?
This is actually a difficult question for me to answer. A “typical” day for me does not exist. I know that sounds a bit dramatic, but it is true. There are some days I come into work not having any idea what is going to be in store for me. When you cover a wide variety of products as we do, there’s really no way of telling what will be on your plate for the day. I love that it breaks up the monotony of a general office job and adds a bit of excitement to each day. I could end a day finishing up a mail room for a small office building and the next day get a request for a massive industrial warehouse. It really is a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. Thanks, Forrest!
2. What is your favorite type of project to work on?
I get such of a rush of adrenaline when an opportunity for sports equipment storage comes through. I guess as an avid sports fan, it just makes me super pumped to get started. I have done several within the past year – Atlanta Braves, a couple of universities, another for the Atlanta Braves. With these types of projects you get a little bit of everything. Baseballs, basketballs, footballs, bats, jerseys, shoes, helmets, hats, etc. The inventory list for these requests can be overwhelming, but I find that pressure to be quite motivating. When we are challenged with a variety of storage requirements, it gives us a chance to show off a number of our fantastic product lines from Spacesaver High Density Systems to Rousseau Drawers.
3. Obligatory follow-up question: least favorite?
Do I really have to answer this? I know this is going to sound really cliché, but I cannot say I have a least favorite. Next question?
Okay, well here is my real answer. I hate times when we are unable to meet a customers’ exact needs. Whether it is a capacity requirement or design requirement, it can be defeating when something just does not work out as planned – especially when you’re general instinct as a designer is to just figure-it-out. Fortunately, this does not happen often!
4. What does your ideal project look like?
My ideal project is anything I can freely design and comes with three little words. Open For Suggestions. I am big advocate for trial and error and this gives me a chance to really get the creative juices flowing and play around with the layouts and design options. I am also big on variety. Anything that shows off our capabilities and maximizes our product line offerings – it makes the job really fun, so much so that it doesn’t even feel like work at times.
5. What is the biggest challenge you face on a day to day basis?
TIME. Time will always be a challenge – it doesn’t matter what industry you are in, it will always be a test to your everyday routine. We work with multitudes of deadlines, so when you’re trying to prioritize and balance your workload it can get difficult to fit everything in one 8 hour day. Ideally I want to be able to devote the same amount of time and attention from one project to the next. Treating projects as equals helps me find that time balance and working by the mantra that no project is more important than the other helps me keep that rhythm throughout the workday.
6. If you had a super power, what would it be? Here’s the twist to the question – it would have to be something that would help you at work.
So to continue off the previous question, I would without a doubt love to have the ability to stop and start time whenever I wanted. Time will always be our biggest enemy in this industry. Sometimes schedules are stretched thin and tight deadlines are inevitable. It can be hard to find that perfect medium between quantity and quality. Doing a job too quickly can lead to mistakes and careless errors, but not being able to meet client deadlines is also not good for us OR our customers. If I could stop time, I would be able to triple check – even quadruple check –all while meeting that deadline!
7. Honest question: Do you enjoy your job?
It’s always been really important to me to enjoy what I am doing, in all aspects of life. I will spend half of my life on the career path I have chosen for myself, and I feel like I’ve found a winner. I will not lie, it is called work for a reason – there are times that I am not sure I am going to make it through the day. But I try to treat everything as a learning experience and move forward. One of the most satisfying feelings in the world is seeing a fresh installation for a project in which I had put so much time and effort. What’s not to enjoy about that?
8. Favorite installations?
Locust Grove Police Department – Locust Grove, GA
This project is one of the ones that I had in mind when I mentioned my love for variety. This one really has it all. Hamilton modular casework was a great fit for their breakroom, mail stations, and labs. We installed a High-Density mobile system with color coded Rousseau drawers for more organized storage. The bicycle storage rack in which the bikes are suspended from hooks provides more efficient use of space. Spacesaver’s line of evidence lockers for secure storage simplifies the deposit and retrieval process of evidence. And Freestyle Lockers were a perfect match for this building because every police officer needs a place to store their gear!
Delta Airlines Museum – Atlanta, GA
I always jump at the opportunity when a museum storage request comes through, but this particular opportunity struck near and dear to my heart. My dad is a pilot for the Golden Knight Army Parachute team, and I was so excited to be able to make some sort of connection between what I do every day and what he has done for the past 20+ years. Archive storage projects are always so cool. Do yourself a favor, and check out the photos here!
So a quick review: A “normal” day for a designer is not a thing around here. That keeps things fresh and exciting. Especially when a new opportunity comes along where I can roll up the sleeves, dig in and have a little fun (at work!) And although there never seems to be enough time in the day, it’s important to always keep the bigger picture in mind. What a rewarding moment to see a project jump off a piece of paper and come to life.
“The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” ~ Steve Jobs.