Goldfish and Meeting Deadlines

What does a goldfish in a small bowl have to do with being ready for a presentation?

There's a lot to do and little time to do it when meeting presentation deadlines. There's nothing worse than having great ideas but nothing (or not enough) to pin up on presentation day.

Whether your working at home or at the office, I hope to help you meet your deadlines and produce plenty of information that will effectively convey your ideas to your professors, classmates or clients before I waste any more of your time, let's get into these strategies...


Prioritize and do the high value tasks first. These are usually the most difficult ones and by putting them first, you're investing your best resources in solving the most important problems.

For example - building a model - it's one of the more difficult things you'll do as a student.

But when you do, you start to learn about all the three-dimensional relationships of the parts and pieces.

It forces you to confront many of the decisions you'll be making along the way in the entire design process, ones you're probably not ready to answer yet.

Models introduce more problems initially than they solve, but this is why they're significant.

The model actually helps you design the site plan and the floor plan, the elevations and the sections too; it can help you figure out the materials, and the details.

Those are the things that ultimately need solving and having them in your head will help you better manage the time it will take to solve them.

If working on the model means a few of the lower impact things don't get done, it won't kill your presentation because all your design thinking will be baked into the model.

If it means you can't draft the site plan, you can use the model to show someone the street relationship or a side yard setback.

In this example, if you had divided your time equally among the site plan and floor plans and tweaked those endlessly to get them perfect and didn't have time to build a model, then the massing isn't quite right, and the elevations aren't resolved.


Ever notice how when you're in the late stages of a preparing for presentation how much you actually accomplish?

Somehow you manage to crank out an incredible amount of work in a really short period of time, right?

Well, you can actually trick yourself into working at this faster pace by imposing deadlines on yourself.

Parkinson's Law talks about the idea that goldfish grow to the size of the tank they’re in.

The time it takes to do a given task will expand to fill the time you allot it. So give yourself a smaller tank and get the task done faster.


It's impossible to change time or scope without affecting one or the other.

As you approach a crit or presentation deadline and it's clear you're in danger of not meeting it, you have two choices: either reduce the scope or increase the time.

As a design student or seasoned professional, you will always be low on time so you always have to reduce the scope.

Reducing scope means fewer drawings or fewer design schemes, essentially, less of what you were planning to do at the beginning.

But if you prioritize and do the high value tasks first and get good at imposing deadlines on yourself, you want always have to reduce scope.



Join the Newsletter

If you like this article and would like to see more, please subscribe!

    We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.
    Powered By ConvertKit

    Leave a comment

    Please note, comments must be approved before they are published