Taylor Cashdan

Are you unknowingly addicted to stress? Do you have anxiety about work deadlines or keeping up with the hustle culture lifestyle?

Stress Addiction, Hustle Culture and A Trip To The Hospital
Stress Addiction, Hustle Culture and A Trip To The Hospital

Stress Addiction, Hustle Culture and A Trip To The Hospital

Ep
74
Mar
16
With
Taylor Cashdan
Or Listen On:

Hustle versus health.

Are you unknowingly addicted to stress? Do you have anxiety about work deadlines or keeping up with the hustle culture lifestyle? You may want to take a moment and then listen to what today’s guest has to say.

In this episode, Chris talks with multidisciplinary designer, Taylor Cashdan, about what too much stress can do to your body. Spoiler alert: Nothing good. Taylor shares his frightening (and enlightening) story about a trip to the hospital at the young age of 24. And about how important rest, recovery and reflection really is to your personal and creative success.

‘Hustle culture’ has become an increasingly popular phrase these days. But its impact on the people who partake in it is more detrimental than meets the eye. If you subscribe to the hustle culture, chances are you’re working endlessly each day, without giving yourself room to breathe, relax, or even sleep. Work is your all-day, every day routine, and anything else comes secondary.

While the creative industry is somewhat synonymous with ‘hustling,’ we’d like to start a conversation on why things should change. And we think Taylor’s the perfect person to have this talk with.

Taylor is a full-time senior designer, Raleigh AIGA board member, and freelancer. But before we get into what Taylor does today, we need to learn how he got here.

Back in 2018, Taylor woke up from what he thought was just a nightmare. He could feel his heartbeat was more rapid than usual, but brushed it off and got ready for work. Next thing he knows, he’s in the hospital with a resting heart rate of 180 beats per minute. To put that in perspective, the average resting heart rate for an adult is somewhere between 60-90.

Taylor’s heart was beating completely out of sync. The overload of stress physically ailed him to the point where he was basically approaching a stroke—and mind you, Taylor’s a pretty young guy.

So, is this just how things are in the creative industry? Should designers just accept their fate that they’ll forever be stressed?

We don’t think so. Tune in to the full conversation to hear more about how Taylor lived to overcome his stress addiction, and find a happy—and healthy—work/life balance.

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Episode Transcript

Taylor:
Uh, email my coworkers and my boss, let them know I'm not coming in today. You know, we had a project do, you know.

Chris:
Right.

Taylor:
Tell them my friend [inaudible 00:00:05] gonna make it. Like all the things started rolling back in my head of the things I was responsible for.

Chris:
Yeah.

Taylor:
And they were like, "Taylor, put the computer down. Like you are in a hospital bed."

Chris:
What's up everybody? Welcome to The Futur podcast. I'm your host Chris Do and joining me as always as Mr. Greg Gunn.

Greg:
Hey, Chris.

Chris:
Hey man.

Greg:
How's it going today?

Chris:
Doing pretty good.

Greg:
Yeah.

Chris:
Yeah.

Greg:
Oh, okay. All right. Well, here we are in episode 70 something of this podcast.

Chris:
Wow!

Greg:
We are nearing triple digits.

Chris:
That's awesome. I can't wait to hit episode 100. I think that's going to be a real milestone for us.

Greg:
I think so too. And that's... I mean this podcast has been going inconsistently for several years. (laughing) Um, but it feels good to be back in-

Chris:
Story of our lives.

Greg:
Yeah. Back into rhythm.

Chris:
Yeah.

Greg:
And I, I hope, I hope for those of you listening too that, um, it's, it's been nice to see new episodes pop up. So if, if you like what you're hearing also l- let us know. You know, um, this is... it's, it's a two way street. We want to make sure, uh, you guys are getting the most for your [inaudible 00:01:27].

Chris:
And if you don't like it, please don't say anything.

Greg:
Yeah. You can just shut up. That's fine.I'm kidding.

Chris:
So we're going to be talking to Taylor Cashton today and we shared the stage I guess not at the same time but at Creative South, and when he reached out and wanted to be in a guest and he told me what he wanted to talk about I thought definitely let's get him on the show. And he has a very strong and real physical reaction to this idea of hustle culture, how we're always just grinding and burning the candle at both ends to kind of hit these deadlines and try to do great work. And it comes at a heavy price. You're going to find all about that in this episode.

Greg:
But before we do that-

Chris:
Yeah.

Greg:
... you, you said hustle culture. And I know that's... it's like a trigger word I think-

Chris:
It is,

Greg:
... for, for a lot of people. Um, what, what is your take on, on that? Like, I mean, do you subscribe to that or are you a hustler? What do you think?

Chris:
All right. This is like, uh, us getting into words and cutting things apart. For me, I think there's a couple of ways to interpret the word hustle, and in the way that I've always looked at it means to like be busy, to do work, and to work hard, put your nose down and just do the freaking work, right? And to some other people, I think there's this hustle and hustler and then that has a different connotation altogether. Like a hustler is somebody who, who, who, who works but is working the scene. He's trying to take a shortcut and take advantage of people like a hustler. Is that the other connotation to what you get?

Greg:
Uh, yeah. I, I think I probably used the wrong term. But like I... What I, what I meant to ask was-

Chris:
Yeah.

Greg:
... when, when I think of like hustle culture I think of like, you know, Gary V and those people who were like, "Yeah, let's work 18 hours a day and no life." Bu- Um, and you know, because that's what it takes.

Chris:
Yeah.

Greg:
And I, I guess wh- what I'm asking you is, is that what it takes? Do you think that's, that's like a rule you have to do that? Like what does it take? Maybe that's the question to ask.

Chris:
I, I think... I'm, I'm an old school guy. I came up in a time in which we were working in school and then shortly thereafter because that culture was fostered in school where you're up literally all night. And I've had probably a couple of back to back all nighters. Maybe I slept one or two hours in, in a period of 48, 72 hours and went delirious because I remember driving down the road in Glendale and waking up while driving on the opposite side of the road and freaked the heck out.

Greg:
Oh, my God.

Chris:
These things happen to me all the time. I would start to hallucinate. I remember this very vividly because when you don't have enough sleep you enter into the dream state while still awake.

Greg:
Right. Yeah.

Chris:
Right? So you're having a waking dream and it can be very scary. I'm driving down Holly Street towards Art Center and it's late at night. I think I went to get dinner or something and then I'm driving up back to the campus late at night and I remember the canopy of trees that line the street reaching down to my car and I was like freaking out. And the distance in which I was driving from that point to the point in which I turned it to go up the hillside wasn't very far, but it felt like it was forever. But there's nothing I can do because what do I do? Do I pull over and take a nap? And I've done that mind you. While at Art Center I would pull over at a gas station and just go to sleep for a little while.

Greg:
Right. Yeah.

Chris:
Did you do that?

Greg:
I, I remember a time where I think, I think I dozed off while, while driving home. This is during, during school, during, during college.

Chris:
When you were at Otis, right?

Greg:
Yeah. 'Cause I'd stayed up. You know, I usually sleep in my car and just work, you know, at school over night-

Chris:
Yeah.

Greg:
... through the weekend and stuff. And one time I was like, "I gotta go home and shower, man." And I, I did that and it was a mistake because I, I woke up I think because my tire like hit the curb and I was like, "Oh, F. This is, uh- "

Chris:
Where? In the neighborhood?

Greg:
Um, no I was driving along I think it was Lincoln Boulevard 'cause I lived in the South Bay at the time. Yeah, it was scary. It was really, really scary.

Chris:
Wow! And was that a wake up call for you or you just pass it off like, "Okay. Manage your time better. We will still get through this"?

Greg:
Oh, no. Major, major wake up call.

Chris:
Okay.

Greg:
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I still like did the all nighters and stuff, but I'm like not driving if I'm that tired. I- I'm just going to sleep at a friend's house, sleep in my car, whatever. I'm not going to risk getting on the road. No.

Chris:
I want to tell you one thing that most people don't know about me. Everybody is enjoying their like hand ground, freshly made coffee here. I don't like to drink coffee because I have a strong negative emotion around coffee.

Greg:
Oh.

Chris:
I'm not a coffee drinker. Okay?

Greg:
You said emotion. I thought you were going to say reaction but-

Chris:
No emotion.

Greg:
Okay. It got interesting. Let's-

Chris:
Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Greg:
Let's hear this.

Chris:
So I don't drink coffee, but I know coffee has caffeine. And when you're up on these kind of long marathon runs when you don't go... when you go a long distance without sleep I remember pulling over to 7-Eleven and I got myself a giant thing of coffee. And it's probably 5:00, 6:00 in the morning and I'm really tired already. I'm slamming this thing down and I'm trying to drive to Art Center, and my heart, my head wants to explode. I wanted to vomit, but it couldn't vomit. There was just crazy amounts of caffeine in my body, and I, I can still remember that drive. And it was just horrific, wanting to vomit, my heart racing ev- just head throbbing. Still... I still have to get the mission done. I still have to get to school and deliver my project or whatever it was I was doing. But that day in Florida I was like, "Coffee in me, I think we're done."

Greg:
[crosstalk 00:07:02] so much.

Chris:
It was a short live romance. And so that's, that's why I don't drink coffee.

Greg:
I probably wouldn't either after that.

Chris:
Yeah. So hustle.

Greg:
Yeah. So [crosstalk 00:07:09].

Chris:
So that's a culture, right? And I think for a lot of people, maybe more so men than women, but it's like we would look at each other like, yay, see each other down the hallway and say, "we're you up all night? Yeah, me too." "How long, you know, how long have you been going without sleep?" And it would be a badge of honor. And so yeah, that was kind of fostered in art school. So when you get out of school you continue down that same path. Like why would that change? It's now work and now you're getting paid and the stakes are higher.

Greg:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris:
And you can get caught up in that. I do remember many nights where I would fall asleep at my desktop. We're talking about 4:00 in the morning and just sitting there like, "Oh, my gosh, waiting for, uh, something to refresh or something to render something and then be- being jolted back awake because it made a sound in the computer."

Greg:
Right. I know what that sounds, yeah.

Chris:
Right? You know.

Greg:
Yeah.

Chris:
And I've had for some time, uh, pulling all nighters with my interns, and we used to say this thing at the office like, "I don't know you until you and I have seen the sunrise together," and that's not a good way to work.

Greg:
Yeah. Yeah.

Chris:
And it took a while, and I think there's going to be a bunch of people who are going to listen to this and say to themselves, "Woo! I remember those days. I'm still in those days and that's what it takes." This old guard that thinks that that's the way you have to work and anybody else doesn't work that hard is trying to take a shortcut, is some kind of charlatan, doesn't want to pay their dues. But I started to examine our work culture and our work life. We held the client's needs, their projects, their deadlines, their lack of planning above our own safety and our health.

Greg:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris:
And I worried about the people who worked at our office. I worried about the longterm health benefits and we started to change our culture here. We started to institute policies where we're not going to take on projects on a Friday night that's due on a Monday because we basically just killed everybody's recharge time. We killed everybody's personal time. We're going to create distance and tension in relationships that go outside of this office. So we, we changed that and, and that came at some friction to our salespeople because they wanted us to go after every single job no matter what.

Greg:
Right.

Chris:
So there was a financial consequence to making these kinds of decisions. We would also institute, you know what, we got to just end work around 7 o'clock. Give me a good, honest eight hours of your work, your best, and we're going to have to save the rest for the next day. That meant that we couldn't take on projects that had crazy deadlines with unrealistic goals or to be understaffed.

Chris:
Now, we weren't perfect, but for many years we did this without having to work a single day on the weekend or long hours at night. And if it was working long hours at night it was almost always self-imposed, not because of management but because of artistic desire. It was the call of the person who was working on it that they wanted to put on... put in a little bit extra work.

Greg:
I think, I think right there is, is when you start to touch on perhaps that hustle mentality of now where it's like it's gotta, it's gotta be the best. I gotta... my, my Twitter, my Gram, like all these things have to be... it's like you have to be a one-person content company just to survive out there.

Chris:
Yeah, and I think there's this phrase that people say a lot and maybe I felt at one point, but now I have a visceral reaction to this phrase, which is you're only as good as your last project. And this becomes this phrase that is bouncing around in the echo chamber of your brain to say like, "Well, everything else I did before this moment in time doesn't count. So I better make this one count." And so you wind up working on it, overworking it into a point of insanity.

Chris:
And I think it's because we keep holding these unrealistic idealistic images of perfection and remind that if we just had a few more minutes to polish it that it would make a dramatic difference. It will make a difference. But to how many people we just don't know. And I think that number is quite small, and I think if we're going to have a healthier conversation about work life balance and work culture, especially in the creative industry, we need to change this dialogue because where else in the world does this exist where every good deed you've done, every good piece of work you've created, every gesture of kindness is erased every single day?

Chris:
That would be kind of a tough way to live. But as creative people, we keep saying that to ourselves, like whatever you did before today doesn't matter. And I think that's really toxic. So when Taylor talks about the hustle culture that is deeply rooted within the creative industry, it definitely I think needs to be heard. And you can see the consequence, the impact it'll have on your health in your life. And we have to find better ways.

Chris:
On the flip side of that is that when you are grinding away at a project, it doesn't give you that objectivity that you need to be able to step away from the work to look at it with fresh eyes because you're just in the thick of it. You're in the force and you... or I'm sorry. You're in the, you're in the trees and you can't see the forest kind of situation-

Greg:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris:
... and I think it's really important. This is one of the, the things I believe in a mantra maybe in that the precursor to creativity is boredom. That you can't be that creative if you're just grinding all the time. And if you don't believe me, because it sounds like heresy to many of you who are just hearing this, is try this, go on a road trip, take a few days off of work and completely unplug. Turn off your phone, turn off your email. Just create some rules for yourself where you're not allowed to work and see how many days you can last before the, the, the dam that's holding back all the ideas breaks wide open.

Chris:
And I guarantee you this, that first it will be really uncomfortable and then you'll hate it and you'll want to stop. But if you let it go, you'll see something wonderful happen. And on that note, let's get into my conversation with Taylor Cashton. For people who don't know who you are, can you introduce yourself really quickly and tell us what you do?

Taylor:
Yeah, sure. Uh, my name's Taylor Cashton. I'm a [inaudible 00:13:18] at Fidelity Investments. I work in the design systems standardization teams and I also am a board member of AIG Raleigh. I'm the director of Uniting People, uh, here for our local chapter. Um, and I have a myriad of freelance clients and little side projects that keep the creative juices flowing.

Chris:
Awesome. I think where this conversation gets really interesting is how it began when you and I were just messaging each other on DM and we both spoke at Creative South and you were talking about stress and this hustle mentality. So I think this is a good place to begin. So take me back to that night that you wake up and your, your, your heart's beating out of your chest. Like this is I think 2017-ish.

Taylor:
Yes. Yeah. So maybe around June 29th to be specific. Uh, I woke up one morning, um, getting... to get ready for work and I was covered in sweat. My head was pounding, my chest was beating like crazy. Uh, and I figured that I just, you know, had a nightmare or slept terribly, like figure something normal rights. I got up, got ready for work, took a shower and all those like feelings kind of faded, but I still had this like pitter-patter in my chest.

Taylor:
So I proceeded to go to work figuring, you know, whatever, this is just a weird, you know, mood I'm in or something, and I get to work and I sat down on my desk and I both felt like ready for the day, like energized, but exhausted like bodily, which is a very weird combination of feelings.

Taylor:
Uh, and after a, a myriad of, of like, "Let me see if I can figure this out. You know, let me slow my breath. Let me see if my, my heart rate can kind of get figured out." I couldn't get a constant read like, uh, via like an Apple watch or, or on my wrist. And it was, it was clear, it was time to kind of act. So I immediately to my doctor who was around the corner from my office at the time, realized that there wasn't much they can do there and went directly to the hospital.

Chris:
Okay. So what happened there?

Taylor:
So when I arrived there the doctor called ahead and was like, "Hey, this is what's going on with Taylor. Like we don't know what's up." And they didn't give me much detail, but when I arrived it was like all hands on deck. They put me in a wheelchair because they were nervous I would collapse. Uh, they had me hooked up to EKGs, which is an electric cardiogram. Like it monitors the electrical pulses in your body. So hooking up all those things, they're putting oxygen, you know, the headset thing and hooking up IVs.

Taylor:
And all this... All the while, I'm just sitting there going, "I don't understand what's happening. Like I've just got this pitter patter in my chest." And they much... they get me back to the room and they're like, "All right. Well, the problem here is you're sitting still like on a bed reclined at 180 beats a minute." And I was like, "Okay, is that fast?" And they were like, "Well, to give you kind of frame of reference, like average adult resting heart rate is between like 60 and 90 when you're sitting still," sometimes lower for those who are more athletic or a little higher if you like just had coffee. But like to be sitting still doing nothing at 180 is like beyond extensive workout.

Taylor:
So what was happening was after trying to, to get my heart rate slower with an IV drip through some medication, um, that didn't work. And they realized the chambers of my heart were beating out of sync. So the way I think about it as like toddlers trying to drive a car, right? And you got the guy, the driver at the steering wheel, and then the little kid at the pedals kind of just hitting stop and go, not really communicating to the, the other driver.

Taylor:
And that's basically what's going on with my heart was there was one chamber just kind of doing its own drum solo whenever it felt like, and the other one couldn't keep up. So it was out of sync and out of rhythm. And generally speaking, this leads to stroke because you... the blood can't flow properly through your body. Um, and it, it turns out this is a condition called atrial fibrillation where the electrical miscommunication occurs and it's more typical in folks like who are, you know, 55 plus or very, very overweight or have diabetes or other health factors.

Taylor:
But I was 24 at the time. So it's like unheard of at that... without any extraneous factors. Um, and I woke up in the rhythm, which is, is apparently very rare. Uh, typically AFib as a, as a thing, like a flutter is triggered by, you know, an emotional reaction to something like a, a death in the family or a, a missed deadline. You know, things like that that were just kind of shock your system and they don't normally last that long.

Taylor:
So they had to shock me, uh, like think of like paddles, right, three times to, to even get my heart to go any slower, which didn't work. So I got down to about 150 and it was at least steadying out there, which was weird but also is still high, and I ended up staying in the hospital for, for three days because of it.

Chris:
That's so strange because I'm used to hearing people like flat-lining before they shock.

Taylor:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris:
You were beating so fast that they had to shock you to try to get it to reset it sync up again. Is that the idea?

Taylor:
Yeah, I was terrified. They, they put you under and they basically-

Chris:
Yeah.

Taylor:
... shock you. And as I understand it, you flail like an octopus. You know, I was obviously out so I didn't know. And they had to... but it didn't work the first time. They increased the strength and they got to like the third level and we're like, "All right. If we do this any more, it could actually do damage." So i- it was a very scary thing.

Chris:
So you were out, but just you even telling me this story is just it must be very frightening because you're thinking, "Okay. Something's a little funky," and then they're treating it like this is bananas. So people... I, I can only imagine-

Taylor:
Yeah.

Chris:
... the, the swarm of activity that was happening around you. How were you processing all that at that time before you know what you know now?

Taylor:
Yeah. I mean, I had no idea what was going on, and before I understood the, the extent, you know, like I said, I felt kind of tired but also energized. So this was weird being there-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Taylor:
... and then having all these people around me, like very visibly trying to get me to not freak out, you know? Like, "It'll be fine. We'll figure this out," while I'm not in a place of like freaked out. I'm just nervous that like they're saying they're gonna have to shock me and they don't know what's happening kind of thing. So I started to get anxious based on their attempt to keep me calm, you know, which was kind of weird. And then it got to a point where they were like, "We don't know what's happening," which is when I started to worry.

Taylor:
You know, and they put me up in the room and, and it was like, "Okay. Cool. We're just going to monitor you and hope this fixes itself." And I was like, "Are you kidding me?" Like I don't know what I was supposed to do right now. And when we started to like figure out some of the root causes was when I... my gut reaction once I got to the hospital room I was like, "Oh, my God, I need to email my coworkers and my boss, let them know I'm not coming in today." You know, we had a project, you know.

Chris:
Right.

Taylor:
Tell my friend I'm not gonna make it. Like all the things started rolling back in my head of the things I was responsible for.

Chris:
Yeah.

Taylor:
And they were like, "Taylor, put the computer down. Like you are in a hospital bed." Like... and then they started asking questions like, "All right. Well, like what's a normal day for you? You know, or what's a normal weeks workload?" And I just started rattling off things and they got to a point where they're like, "Okay. Wait a minute. No, not a week. Like, what's in one day?" I was like, "No, no, no. Like that is one day. You know, I go to work. I come home. I work on, you know, a project I was trying to finish. I then go to dinner. I take the dog out. I watch a show. I finished the project, I read a little bit. I meditate. I go to sleep."

Taylor:
And they're like, "Yeah, that's like activities you're listing." I was like, "No, no, no. That's like Monday," you know? And they were like, "Well, that's, that's insane to try to pack all that. And if that's what's happening every day, well, it's very clear that you're like pushing your body beyond the brink of like what's mentally acceptable from a rest perspective." They'll like, "You're [inaudible 00:20:05] exhausting mot only your, your mental capacity to like think deeply and critically about what's going on, but you're spreading yourself so thin that you're not able to concentrate on anything in particular. So you know, you're just spreading yourself out to the point of, of no return."

Chris:
So what's interesting as you describe this I can only think that many of the people listening to this is going to be saying, "Yeah, that kind of sounds like my life." Like that's not unusual for people in the creative industry. You got to work, you go home, you do a little bit more work, you eat, you do a couple of like leisure activities, and you finish the work and then you got asleep, and rinse and repeat. That's five days, sometimes six days a week. And they're freaking out. Like that's not normal. You're not supposed to do that.

Taylor:
Yeah. And where it gets even stickier is, you know, they would ask questions and ask questions and ask questions and I just... I was like, "I don't understand why this is, this is not okay," right? And then... because seemingly this behavior had a positive output, right? I was being productive. I was finishing things. I was getting client work done. I was getting personal work done. I was working for, you know, my job. Like all the things quote unquote were getting finished. And it was seemingly good. It was good quality, everyone was happy. Like I was meeting deadlines, whatever.

Taylor:
So on, on the surface level you're like, "Okay. Cool. Like this is fine." Like nothing's stopping you. And yeah, maybe you're a little tired or you need that extra cup of coffee to get through the day, but you don't realize like what's going on inside. And that's where like the immediate turning point happened for me is when my body decided like, "All right, Taylor. Like you're done. Like we're tired of dealing with this and we can't put up with it any longer. So we're going to give you a signal." And that's what this heart thing was.

Chris:
Right. So let's talk about this. And I think we were just chatting offline before about how we in the creative space have this hustle culture that if you're not sitting there grinding away at something for 18, 20 hours a day you're less than, you're not deserving to be a creative person. And, and I, i think i- it's even, um, it's gone beyond just like encouraging it. It's like that's the standard. That's the standard and if you do less than that, then you're opposed or you're, you're not doing it, right? And, and recently, as I've been telling people, I've not put my hands on work in a really long time. I manage a team.

Chris:
The immediate reaction I get from people is like, "Oh, you're one of those designers," right? So there's a very strong and negative reaction to people who aren't doing things that sound like exactly what you just described.

Taylor:
Yeah. The funny part is we, we hate on it and then we criticize it, right? It's like-

Chris:
Yeah.

Taylor:
... "Oh, you're working too hard, but I'm going to go home and do those 30 things too," right? And then all it does is create this pattern where we're just encouraging our own bad behavior. And I mean, you look on any social media platform, even some, some speaker talks or stuff on, on YouTube. And it's always like, how to hack your time, you know, how to do, you know, more with less, how to optimize your workflow. And I think there's only a certain point from digestion of that where it becomes like, "All right. All you're doing is internalizing that I'm not doing enough, instead of thinking how to work smarter."

Taylor:
And that's been like the biggest criticism I've received on, on this story is people have responded. And I'm, I'm very open to feedback often, but they're, they're like, "Well, is it like you just... you don't want people to work hard." And that's not my message. My message is very simple. You have to work hard to get where you need to go. That's obvious. But you should work smart, right? If you're sitting and stirring on things and you're not making progress and you're, you're spending 20 hours on something there's probably an efficiency problem somewhere along the way, right?

Taylor:
Or you're hitting a roadblock because you're exhausted. You know, rest and relaxation are just as important as that dedicated hard work, like time- timeframe. I mean, studies are coming out i- it seems like every other week showing that the... beyond the 40 to 50 hour work week, like your body cannot process more information in an effective, uh, you know, furthering the needle way. Like you, you literally just cannot process things anymore. So you're doing worse work, which often as we realized not only with my health but with my quality of work is i- it started to take a toll on, and you don't notice until you step back and go, "Oh, I could've done that better if I really would have dedicated time to it or rested a little bit before jumping project to project."

Taylor:
And we have this culture of like, you know, you need the side hustle. You need to be... you know, having an online presence and doing all this stuff. And if you're not active in your professional organization like you're not going to get anywhere and, you know, blah blah blah. And it just stacked up.

Chris:
Right. So let's, let's delineate, if we can, for people-

Taylor:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris:
... who are listening who might be thinking, "I'm working really smart, but maybe they're working really hard," or they think they're working really hard, but actually in fact they're actually working really smart. So can you give us an A to B comparison or A to A comparison? Like give me a one example of working really hard and what's the alternative to that? Like what is the opposite of like when you're working really smart?

Taylor:
Sure. I mean, I can give you a, a personal example. I was the type of person that I thought that I did my best work under pressure, right? So I would leave things so like the last few days before a deadline, right? Thinking, "All right. When I can get into this crunch mode, you know, I'll have my coffee, I'll have my music, I'll have my, you know, I'll be at my office by myself. I'll put 20 hours towards the thing and crush it. You know, it'll be over three days period," whatever it is.

Taylor:
And you realize that, that if you space that out let's say over a week, right, a few hours a week, you start to be able to critically think as opposed to just cramming whatever comes to mind immediately, right, uh, in that, in that smaller timeframe and your quality increases as you extend the quantity of time across, you know, multiple settings, right? Multiple, um, smarter, uh, orientation of your time, right?

Taylor:
So that 20 hours you were going to put over three days, you put it over five. You're giving your, your brain a chance to process the things you're working through, a chance to sleep on it, so to speak, and then be able to re-look at your work again and go, "You know what? I missed that thing." Or, "This was right on par. I should follow this," as opposed to going, "Well, I've only got 15 more hours on this before it's due. So I need to just commit and move forward," right?

Taylor:
And that's, that's the struggle is I was doing that... the latter all the time thinking that was the only way I would channel that flow state. Like I needed that pressure, I needed that, you know, immediacy of this is due tomorrow and I'm starting from nothing so I'll commit faster if I don't have the time to iterate or don't have the time to think deeper, right? So it'll be the best idea because it will be the one my brain latches onto, right? As opposed to going, you know... that's why I like things like the Agile model are so prevalent nowadays. Like you've got a sprint of time, right, where you can spread workouts. You can think critically. You can take time to digest. You can get feedback, et cetera. And that's what I mean by the smart approach as opposed to the exclusively working hard focused time. Like give yourself time to digest. You need to be able to process what you're working on.

Chris:
Right. Okay. This is... I want to go deeper on this, if not, spend a ton of time talking to you this because I think myself included a lot of creative people do procrastinate. We're, we're waiting for that pressure to build up so that we can feel that spark so we can create, because I, I think, at least for me, that creativity just doesn't come when it's just like you have all this leisure time. So if I have a week to write a talk, let's say a week were both going to speak on a stage and we have a week to write a talk or maybe two weeks. It's going to be in the last few hours that the work gets done.

Chris:
And then this stresses out my wife who will walk over and say, "What are you doing? Are you done with your talk yet?" I say, "I haven't started." And she's like, "I, I don't know how you doing this." She's shaking her head like, "Honey, why do you torture yourself like this?" And then it's usually in the two days leading up to when I have to deliver that talk that I actually do write it. And so for people who feel like that's the only way they can create are you suggesting that if they're going to spend those two days, let's say 10 hours writing the talk, to spread out two hours, uh, every couple of days and so they get to that point? Is that what you're suggesting?

Taylor:
Yeah. Uh, so there's obviously no formula that works for everybody, right?

Chris:
Right.

Taylor:
But part of my... so what I, what I began to do and what helped me kind of get past that initial like, "There's no way this will work for me," is let's take the talk for example, right? I knew I had to get the thing done and I knew that like my create time, so to speak, when I was designing the slides-

Chris:
Yes.

Taylor:
... happens best, you know. or I thought so, under that tight constraint, right?

Chris:
Yeah.

Taylor:
But I knew that also I often spent a ton of time figuring out the hierarchy of slides, like the points I wanted to hit, right?

Chris:
Right.

Taylor:
Or at least a rough outline. So instead I was like, "All right. I know that like... or at least I perceive that I think the best creative work comes in that compounded time. But I also know I got to get this other thing done, this outline, this structure that will guide what I make," right? So normal plan of attack would have been do that all at one... in one sitting. So instead I was like, "All right. I'm going to challenge myself to take that part that I know I have to get done that structural stuff and do it before so that when I go into creator mode I already have my structure down and I'm not spending time worrying about that as I'm just making aimlessly," right?

Taylor:
So you can break up the stuff that you're working through is what I'm getting at. Like so for a talk, I took time for a few days of wanting to just think through the flow of the order and may have included some sketching just to give myself a visualization to attach to, but I got my order of operations down. I'm going to open with this thing. I'm going to hit on these statistics. I'm going to talk about this story. I'm going to end with these four points to be able to deliver on my goal of making sure people learn something from what I'm talking about, and it's not just aimless slideware, right?

Taylor:
And so once I had that framework down I then was like... I started getting ideas of, "Oh, I can put this slide here. And it just started sparking that, that snowball so that where I normally would have done that all in one sitting and then hoped it all kind of came together I was thinking through structure and which sparked independent ideas where I was like, "Oh, you know what? I have time on Tuesday. I'll work on that one section of the deck because I have an idea right now, right?" And I'll compartmentalize. So when I get to Friday when I normally would've done all the work I have maybe one eighth of it finished or at least started, right?

Taylor:
And then when my brain started doing that I got into a rhythm like, "Oh, and that other idea that I had. Well, I'm just going to jot this idea down and maybe I'll work on it on Wednesday," right? And then as that process began to, to unfold I realized that I was by, by forcing myself to do that structural piece early I then allowed myself to process things independently instead of expecting my brain to just get everything at once.

Taylor:
And then naturally I was like, "Oh, I can do this one piece now, or I can do this other piece now. Am I going to do these three pieces in one sitting," or whatever it was. So that when it came Friday the whole thing wasn't done right but at least I had two thirds and I could think through that last third with intention because I already had the, the other two thirds to base the things off of instead of expecting myself to kick in high gear and do all of it in one sitting.

Chris:
Let's talk about the feeling, the emotion that you have from one style of working versus another. So if you are waiting until the last 48 hours to get your project done-

Taylor:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris:
... how do you feel in the moment? Are you aware of what's your... how your body is processing this and whatever hormones or chemicals are being released in your body compared to like spreading it out?

Taylor:
Sure, sure. I've become more aware. And part of that is because I've, I've dug... uh, I'm, I'm the obsessive type. So once I found out I have this condition I dug into everything related to it. But you realize that, uh, when your body is experiencing stress there's a chemical called cortisol, which is released in, in your adrenal glands, and it is the direct attribute to your fight or flight response kind of thing going on.

Taylor:
And part of that compression is you're banking on, at least this is my experience, I was banking on my body choosing fight, right? So I would power through whatever I was get... I was working on, right? I'd be able to focus in. But there's time where your body doesn't have the option to do that. Like it wants to do flight. It wants to rest, right? So when you're gambling on that in that tight timeframe you're really not giving yourself that buffer chance to breathe, right?

Taylor:
So as I started to realize that that's what I was doing that's what was causing all this exhaustion. It was causing all my burnout. It was causing, you know, my, my heart, my stress, my anxiety, all those things to rise while I was working on this stuff. And, you know, did it go away once I submitted the project, you know, a few hours later? Of course. Or when I hit save and was done for the night. But that would happen whether you did that over a month's time or one night. That final save doesn't change. But it's the wear and tear you do on your body and your brain going up to that that's problematic.

Taylor:
So what I've started to do is I've realized like... Now, what's funny about this is even spacing things out makes me anxious, you know, which is the weird part because I'm so embedded in that 48 hour turnaround thing, right? Where now I'm like, "No, no, no, seven days," or whatever it is. So it makes me anxious to feel like, "Oh, I need to get this done sooner," right? Or I need to make this more bite sized or. you know, will I stop on Monday or will I just plow through and do the whole thing and fall into my bad trap, or is this the right path like that I'm going to set myself for for Friday, right?

Taylor:
So the anxiety kind of never went away and I still battle with that portion today. Like even when I'm thinking through like projects or responding to, to, to email it's like, "Oh, I got to respond right now." It's like, "No, you can, you can process a little bit and respond later. Like they're not expecting an instant answer." It goes the same thing with projects. You know, when you're replying to, to feedback or critique like take a moment to process, right? And in that instant reply often isn't the best answer. And it all kind of folds into the same idea of like do you give yourself time and space to think, right, to digest, to breathe, that moment to pause. Your brain can catch up to what you're trying to accomplish, right? What your eyes are perceiving, what you're hearing, what you're feeling will all have a chance to come together, right?

Taylor:
And that breaking up and that incremental portion of talking back into the project context gives you that time to, to, to give yourself that break of analyzing what you're working on, right? Are we really solving the, the customer or the client, the, the project's problem here or are we just making because we feel like we have to make now because we don't have time, right?

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Taylor:
And you have the chance to analyze and digest. And I'm not suggesting like every project needs to be elongated to a month. Like that's ridiculous. And I also understand the needs of business, right? Sometimes you only have 48 hours. Like I get it. It happens. But if you have the option to extend things along or start planning ahead or doing that pre-work, that structural stuff that we're talking about with the talk early on you will thank yourself umpteen times later when you have to remember what you were trying to do or you're remembering the goal of the project.

Taylor:
Or you're so far in the weeds that you went the wrong direction and you've got to like regroup because you just went on an offshoot that if you had this plan, this structure, this idea, at least, a jotted down concept and maybe some other pre-work while you're working through, that you'll save yourself so much time and anxiety later where when you can then review the project in that last five hours, right? Not just hit submit, right. And just make sure your story makes sense, right? Your full picture and all the other things in between.

Chris:
Okay. I'm going to describe you what goes on in my mind, the soundtrack that I'm hearing-

Taylor:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris:
... and then I'd love to hear how that may or may not reflect what you're feeling and thinking. So usually when I'm in that crunch mode, and it's oftentimes, I'm not going to lie, it's the night before something is due. I... And I have a very specific routine and a habit. I turn on a very specific playlist, I get in my chair and my desktop is... everything is set up exactly the way I need it to work. If somebody moves one thing it throws my entire system up and I start to tense up.

Chris:
And I get into the zone and I start working, and the first thing that I usually say to myself is, "Okay. Here we are again. Is this... Was this a wise decision for us to wait until the last second again," right? And as I'm working on my stuff I start to feel a different energy, this kind of wave of confidence rushing in, saying things like, "You got this. You can do this. You've always done this. And this will work and let's enjoy the ride together." So I'm reprocessing the cortisol perhaps the stress as adrenaline and a very positive thing and I'm jamming and, and I'm thinking, "Man, who else could do this in this short amount of time? And these ideas were really good and I really enjoy pulling up more images or cutting things on, preparing the slides and I get all that."

Chris:
And I keep working and I'm like, "Okay. I've got two hours left. I'm going to get tired soon." "I got one hour left." "And now it's time to go to sleep." And whenever I get to, "That's it. It's done." And I'll tweak it kind of on the plane ride to the conference. That's usually what I'm doing. I'll explain a little bit more about how I got there, but I'm curious, is, is that the soundtrack that you hear in your head?

Taylor:
Oh, absolutely. And the- that goes back to the... the hard part is like the output of this productivity, right? You've got the thing done, like check, you win, right? It's finished. It's, it's as good as it was going to be because you did it and you focused and you're great, right? That's what your brain is telling you. But what it's not also telling you is, "I am tapped. You burnt this candle at every end possible and then cracked the wick in half. But I can't communicate that to you. So we're just going to ride this high of like you finish the thing," right?

Chris:
Yeah.

Taylor:
And that's where my body kicked in and my heart was like, "Nope. No. It's time to show him we cracked." And then pff [inaudible 00:37:54].

Chris:
Right. Right. Now, I will say this. I will say this. What looks to the outsider as procrastination, as not doing anything is in fact doing something very similar to what you do. So if I'm going to speak about confidence or mindset I may watch 10 videos in the two weeks leading up to that moment. I may be reading books and articles, jotting down notes, and just going out and researching and learning.

Chris:
And I let the, the weeks leading up to writing the talk just marinate within my subconscious and in these handwritten 3 by 5 note cards that are strewn about my desk. And then it's time to organize and put things together. And so I'm reminded of this quote from Abraham Lincoln who said that, "Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax." So to him, the ax is this strength multiplier. And you could be the strongest lumberjack in the world, but with a dull ax you are in trouble. So that's the idea.

Chris:
So for me, I'm doing the strategy, the groundwork, the thinking, the writing, the organizing, the surfacing, the reflection, and collecting the stories that I know may or may not be relevant to this topic. And then I go through a pretty vicious editing process and then I go and make the slides. So the very last part is the production part, but I'm pretty clear most of the time going in and probably that's why it looks like procrastination, the making part. But it's actually been two weeks of preparation. So it sounded-

Taylor:
[crosstalk 00:39:27].

Chris:
... to me just like what you're going through.

Taylor:
Yeah. And here's the funny part though. We started this conversation on this is what I do. I cram everything 48 hours before, right? And all the listeners are like, "Oh, that's what Chris Do does. That's the way... that's the way (laughing) good people do it," right? But they would've never known that you do this two week prep beforehand. And that's the exact stuff I'm talking about. The, the index cards, the learning, the reading, all the research-

Chris:
[inaudible 00:39:51].

Taylor:
... right? That's the bulk. That's the time consuming part. Arguably that's the harder part than the, the creating of the deck, right? We get stuck in that 'cause we're creatives, right? And we want to make it look nice. But-

Chris:
Right.

Taylor:
... that's the easy part. It's the knowledge that you have to absorb and distill and process through. But this is exactly what I'm talking about, which is so funny 'cause like you're doing it in my, in my example, the correct way, right-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Taylor:
... to a certain extent. Given could you give yourself more than within 48 hours before to make the deck? Of course. But time is time and I get it. But what we often talk about in front of people is never that, "I spent two weeks researching and jotting things down." It's always like, "Yap, I put this deck together in 48 hours. What's up?" (laughing) Right? We [inaudible 00:40:29].

Chris:
Okay. Yeah.

Taylor:
We glamorize it unintentionally, even without the, the ramification or the thought process of, "Hey, I'm, I'm actually unintentionally talking about this hustle mentality thing that I really don't practice," but people that are listening in only hear that tiny highlight real portion, right? That's finishing-

Chris:
Yeah.

Taylor:
... fact. They don't hear about all the work I did before.

Chris:
Right. I think people who come on stage and say that, that may be them glamorizing the geneosity or the geniusness of their ability to create on the spot, but most of the times, and I'm just speaking for myself, it's, it's literally I, I did put the deck together 48 hours because there may be typos, slides may be out of sequence, is setting the audience up to lower the expectations maybe. It's not necessary, but somebody could hear that and interpret just the way you said, Taylor, which is, "Oh, my God, is that the standard? Is that how you're supposed to do this? And I'm not working hard enough and I need to grind more, and this is the way everybody does it." And so I think it's probably worthwhile to at least have this conversation. At least you and I are having it so that people can hear and say-

Taylor:
Yeah.

Chris:
... "Oh, I get it. There's actually a lot of work." And I'm not even talking about the times in which I try out jokes or I test stories or ideas on my staff or my wife or my son, and if it doesn't hit, I revise it and I keep revising until it feels like, yeah, I'm communicating. So there's a lot of that-

Taylor:
Yeah.

Chris:
... that's going on that's not documented or talked about either.

Taylor:
For sure. Absolutely. And I think that's, that's the challenge. This is never meant as like, "Oh, I'm, I'm doing this to show off," right? You're level setting like, "Oh, there may be typos and stuff here. There may be stuff out of order."

Chris:
Yes.

Taylor:
But it's something consciously we could process that as this is normal. Why does it take me five days? It took him two.

Chris:
Yeah.

Taylor:
This is a problem, right?

Chris:
Yeah.

Taylor:
Which isn't true. And it's even when people ask like, "Oh, when did you start, uh, doing your talk?" And I go, "Well, when did I start or when did like I start doing it in front of like audiences?" 'Cause it's two very different things. Like my first-

Chris:
Right.

Taylor:
... conference event was High Five, right? That was the first time I did it in Raleigh at a, at a conference setting. But I gave it seven times to friends and family to make sure I was fluent, right? So technically that was my eighth iteration, right? But no one knows that. They, they just see on the bill of like where you've done your talk. Like that's the first one. And like, "Oh, he gave that the first time. He's iterated nine times since then." It's like, "No, I'm looking at that thing every week, you know, adding new information that I realized or a slide that I thought was a little off when I got up on the stage."

Chris:
Right.

Taylor:
You know, but that's not the stuff we talk about 'cause it's not glamorous, right?

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Taylor:
It's the nitty gritty work. It's the stuff in between the work.

Chris:
Yeah. Okay. What other things do you want to talk about, about this culture that we're in that's addicted to stress? What other ways have you seen this manifest?

Taylor:
Uh, I think it's, it's... the workplace is shifting, but I think what's interesting is that the, the, the perpetuation of the old agency model I think is always interesting to me of like, "Oh, if you're not working 80 hours right, you're not doing your thing," right? And then the overcommitment of, uh, oftentimes those all ad guys so to speak, that are like, "Yap, we'll do 200 projects this week and it'll be fine." And you're just cranking through.

Taylor:
And I think part of this is a, is a workplace culture problem. Um, and given there's been a lot of talk and a lot of, you know, chatter in the HR world of like how to fix this and how to make culture important and blah, blah, blah, but it goes through down, I mean, even to like the, the, the junior staffer level. Like they have to also recognize that like you are allowed to speak up when you're overloaded, right? It's intentional that you go to your boss and say, "Hey, look, I'm going to really do my best to get this project done, but I'm, I'm feeling a little stressed on it right now." Right?

Taylor:
And we have to get rid of that fear that, uh, that, that disallowed openness. That is the only way to get that feedback up the chain. It doesn't mean you're not going to get the work done, right? That's not what it means. And it doesn't mean you're... you can use it as an excuse if you didn't sleep all the night before to not get your work done. I'm saying genuinely if you are having trouble completing your work, right, you are feeling anxiety about the stuff you're working on, you're feeling over pressured, you have to speak up about it. And that's not to go and say, "Please take this workload off my chest." It's just to let other people know so they can better anticipate workload for the future.

Taylor:
And a good boss will realize that and go, "Okay. You know what? That doesn't mean I need to fire so-and-so. It means they need a little more time. Or I could use them on this type of project, but not this type of project." And I really do think the workplace is changing, but where I see this, uh, thing more so happening in an unregulated, unchecked kind of way is like the freelancer market, right? Because they've got no boss to tell that to, right? It's all self-imposed, right? Especially if people are working by themselves.

Taylor:
And you see all these folks that, you know, they've got their glamor reel. They've got all this fantastic workup, and showing all this great stuff, but they either honestly don't have a lot of clients during the downtime, right, which is totally normal. Like let's level set. Freelance isn't freedom, right. But there's also that portion of like self care, right? If you're... and, and, and it's so funny 'cause when I saw your, your pricing, uh, workshop, like it blew my mind, and then the value based thing was like, "Oh, I'm changing everything I'm doing." Because I was thinking in quantity of hours, right? Of like time spent.

Chris:
Yes.

Taylor:
And I can pack in all of this work to this amount of time I thought I had, right?

Chris:
Yeah.

Taylor:
Because that was the way my brain broke it down and I was thinking in the 9:00 to 5:00 manner and all that other jazz. And then you realize it's not about that. It's about the work and then you shouldn't be penalized for efficiency, right? And I don't think people have been internalized that enough. Like we hear it in content, we see it, we talk about it. But in practice it's not being done. And, and until we can... we really like ingest that and put it into play that's also when clients will realize, "I can't pay you $200 for a full brand kit." It ain't gonna work and you're not going to get it in a week.

Taylor:
You know, they will then learn from our re-pitching of information, you know? And it took me a while to digest that and some forced freelance due to a layoff when I had to learn that the hard way, you know. And I just... it, it fears me when a lot of folks are, are encouraging the whole quit your job, chase the freelance lifestyle. And while I definitely think freelance work is fun, right? There's a lot of benefit in exploring outside of maybe your day jobs construct or the work you're able to do for a certain employer. Freelance i- in a lot of ways, and anyone I think that does this will be able to recognize, it's way more than the job you think it is, right? It's not just the making of this stuff. It's the management. It's the billing. It's the emails. It's, it's the client intake. It's the onboarding. It's the, the client acquisition. Like it's everything in between. So finding the time to do the work is actually more stressful than being able to like think through the full process, right?

Chris:
Right.

Taylor:
So when folks are coming right out of school or right out of, uh, you know, a- another job and they're just leaving, they're like, "You know what? I'm just going to freelance. It'll be great. Everything's going to be cool. I'm going to work for Nike on these projects and I'm going to do what I want to do. And I'm going to travel and I'm going to do this nomad thing," and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. You know, i- it's only until people who have been through that can go, "Hey, that sounds great, and that was my goal too, but here's what it really looks like," that we start to understand and help each other realize that you can do this. However, know what you're getting yourself into.

Chris:
Okay. I'm going to talk a little bit about, uh, the whole idea that the manager or the boss tells the internal team, "We need to get this stuff done," and the importance-

Taylor:
Yeah.

Chris:
... of giving that feedback. I wanted to do a little PSA here. Right now we've been talking mostly about the, the designers or the creative's responsibility to communicate back. A signal has been sent to you. If you just nod and take it they just assume this is normal and then you turn yourself inside out to make it work. And I like that we're talking about taking responsibility, that you need to raise your hand and say, "Hey, boss, uh, I can do most of this. I can't do it all. Or perhaps I can get another person to help do X, Y and Z," or something like that so that they start to gauge what's realistic 'cause they have no idea. They don't know if it takes us five minutes or 50 hours.

Taylor:
Right.

Chris:
But I want to say that at the point in which the creative has to say this to me that is an indictment and a failure of leadership, because the way I've been taught to lead is when you go over as a manager, as a creative director, as a CEO, whatever, and you give your team deliverables to... or outcomes that you want, you have to ask them, you have to give them room to say, "Is this realistic? What resources do we need, uh, in addition to what we already have? What a needs to be re-prioritized or what can I get off your plate so that we can then make this a priority?"

Chris:
And then it's a, it's a bargaining process because if you get into a situation where your creatives are killing themselves or they're sloppy or work that has errors in it that's an indication that you've overloaded the team or you don't have the right people for the right task. Not that they're not... wrong people, it's just not the right task and that's really, really important. Okay? I needed to say that so that if, if... I know there are CEOs who listen to our, our podcast and, and creative directors. So please take note. It's a negotiation you've got to talk about and you have to do like give them space to tell you. You have to invite them in to say, "This is more than I can do. I will do my best, but this is more than I think I can do." Then you guys work it out.

Chris:
Now, before we, uh, before we run out of time, I know we'll have to talk about this with you, you seem like a high energy guy. When you speak, you're going like 65 miles an hour. So if you add the stress on top of that and the procrastination it makes perfect sense to me now why your heart was going 100... 180 beats per minute.

Taylor:
Yeah.

Chris:
It makes total sense.

Taylor:
Yeah.

Chris:
Okay. Having gone through this ordeal, I'm assuming that you're on the other side of this now. What do you do to manage your stress when you're starting to feel that, that pounding in your chest?

Taylor:
Yeah.

Chris:
What are you doing?

Taylor:
Yeah. So I- I- I've broken it down and it's going to sound quite planned 'cause it is. Um, so basically four steps and they correlate in my head to the acronym for atrial fibrillation, which is a AFib, A-F-I-B. Um, I think there's f- there's four things that I do, whether it be on a task by task basis or on the 1000 foot level that I use to kind of check myself. Um, and let's, let's level set here. Like this is not a prescription and it's not perfect, right? There's times where I still stress out and I still have a lot of work that I commit to and I realize, "Oh, man. Like this was dumb. I over-committed," right?

Chris:
Right.

Taylor:
That's totally normal and it's flexible. So understand that, you know, I'm not perfect and this is an ongoing thing. But anyway, so the A in my AFib, uh, acronym is simply to ask, right? You have to ask yourself tough questions about the tasks you're working on, the people you're working with, and the plan you're executing on, whether this is in the work context, whether this is in the social context. It really is agnostic to that. But you have to really ask yourself these tough questions of like, "Am I doing the right thing? Am I doing what's leading me to the next thing?" Whether it's a piece of a project or a relationship or whatever.

Taylor:
You know, are you, are... Do you have a plan or are you running around like a chicken without ahead? Is there a method to this madness? And asking that kind of question to yourself, like those tough questions will lead to like some, some internal things where you'll realize like, "Oh, maybe this was not right," or, "Um, I'm right here, but I'm wrong there," right? And being honest with you... and open with yourself i- in that respect.

Taylor:
Now, the hard part and the next part is, you know, the F. It's, it's effort, right? You have to start (laughing) cutting stuff off. You've got to say no, right? You have to look at those situations and go, "Well, the answer to this question was actually, no, this isn't helping me. Or no, I really don't want to go to this after hours thing that I committed to or said I would be at," or whatever because of X, Y, Z reasons that maybe it's pushing your stress over or you won't be able to complete something you committed to for a client, a loved one, whatever it is. You have to know and learn when to say no and when to cut things out, right?

Taylor:
And sometimes this means saying no to the people in your circle, which is often the hardest part, right? Whether it's cutting, you know, plans or taking people that are just encouraging stagnation and negativity and going, "Look, our old relationship was great, but this one is non-healthy, right? It needs to, it needs to either get fixed or get cut out because it's making me overwhelmed," right?

Chris:
Yeah.

Taylor:
And then part of that's like saying F it to your plan. Like sometimes it's not right. Like what you sought out to start with just isn't panning out. And that's okay. Like you can revise. And this goes back to your workplace culture, uh, comment. Like you can commit to too much work in the beginning then on your next meeting and be like, "Okay. I committed to too much that last time. I'm not setting a standard for myself as I can do 35 projects at once." Like it's not possible.

Taylor:
So the flip side to the, the effort step is, is the I. It's incubate, right? You have to double down on the things that are getting you where you need to be. So you've got to incubate your time, right? So committing to the things that are helpful, committing to the things that make you happy, that bring you joy that you need to get finished, right? You have to incubate your things, right? The things around you. Is, is, is the things that you're doing, the things that you have, the things that you're purchasing, you're absorbing, you're seeing, doing, whatever. Are they the right things, right?

Taylor:
And if they are like, because you did that... asked a question in the beginning, incubate, double down on it, commit, right? And then also incubate your circle, right? We are social beings. You need... even an introvert needs people around them to either gut check, right, or help hype them up. And that's totally fine. And also to be there when they hit a low, right? You need to be able to be honest with people.

Taylor:
So you, you have to first of all acknowledge who those people are that you can be, you can be real with, right? 'Cause that's also a hard thing to do. But once you do like double down on those people. Those are your people. They're your tribe, right? And that doesn't mean hanging out with them every day. But that means like those are the people you can get deep with when you need to, or just be really shallow with when you also need to like it's okay to be like, "I'm having [inaudible 00:54:03] can we just watch this movie? Like I just want to have some time where we're just... I'm with people and I just don't want to think about stuff." And when you find people that allow you to do that and be that way it's a lot easier to process through your... the things you're going through.

Taylor:
And the last piece of the acronym is the easiest to say but it's the hardest to do. And it's the letter B. And it literally is to just be. You have to learn to beat, right? You have to be intentional with the choices you make, the tasks you take on, and the actions you ultimately do. Because if you can do things with intention then you're not just flying around blind, right? You're not just wandering through the world, working on things, talking to people, doing stuff that has no, uh, you know, meaning or, or, or attachment to you.

Taylor:
And I'm not saying everything you do and say and talk to and interact with has to be part of some elaborate plan that's gonna get you the next job or the next project or the next stage in a relationship. None of that's hyper conditional. But just acknowledging like, "Hey, like I've got too much work on today. I'm going to take a few hours to rest," right? Or I know that I have to get this done. So I'm going to be intentional with my time and power through two hours of work, take a little break and then come back to it. Or I know that I have five social engagement this week that I have to attend because I committed, I'm not going to take on a project this week, right?

Taylor:
So it's, it's being critical and intentional with what you do and who you, you surround yourself with. So you can be present when making all of those decisions, working on those tasks, and doing those things. And that's, that's kind of the construct. I try to, to add, add eyes on everything I do.

Chris:
That's really fantastic. So you took what you were diagnosed with, which I hope I'm going to say this right, is atrial fibrillation, AFib.

Taylor:
Atrial. You're real close.

Chris:
Atrial. Okay. Atrial. So yeah, I can't spell. Atrial fibrillation. You've taken something that was a scary point in your life, a shock to your system, and you just turned it into a positive framework. And I love the way that you reframe that. And perhaps today's conversation for everybody that's listening is about looking at our addiction to stress, the hustle culture and the mentality, and how that is mostly myth and people putting it on a pedestal and, and making it seem like this is what we all need to do.

Chris:
And for those people who want to believe that and, and hate on other people, you're welcome to do that. That's fine. For the rest of us let's learn to ignore them and to be real with ourselves and to start to give ourselves the time that we need to truly be creative and to be smart and strategic about how we begin our creative process, not to compound all our problems.

Chris:
My main takeaway from you in terms of this Afib ap- uh, acronym is, is just to learn to know what your limits are and to, to realize sometimes you over commit and it's okay to break those commitments. It's okay because at the end of the day you got this one life to live and if you kill yourself doing because you want to be consistent with what you said you're going to do you, you really are literally working yourself to death at that point. So please, please, please keep this in mind. Lower the number of commitments and when you feel good you could take on more. But don't start off that as your default operating mode.

Taylor:
Yup. Nail on the head, nail on the head. Rest, recovery and reflection, the three Rs. Rest, recovery, reflection, essential parts of progress.

Chris:
Beautiful. So Taylor, are you giving a talk anytime soon? Where can people find out more about you or what you're doing and what you're all about?

Taylor:
I, I am. So I'll be at How Design Live in may in Boston, Massachusetts. I'll be taking one of the, uh, the secondary track slots, uh, there giving my full stress talk that's got all the stats and then deeper dives into some of the concepts we talked about today. Um, I'm working on some more article style stuff for LinkedIn and Medium, uh, currently processing through that stuff trying not to do that last minute, uh, [inaudible 00:57:55].

Chris:
(Laughs) Yeah.

Taylor:
Um, and I'll be in uh, Charlotte, North Carolina later this year, uh, hopefully doing the same thing for the, uh, AIGA chapter out there.

Chris:
Amazing. Okay. Thanks very much for taking your time to be a part of this podcast. Uh, I'm glad we got to, to have this conversation together and I, I hope to bounce into you at a conference or share the stage with you sometime soon.

Taylor:
Absolutely. Likewise. It's been great. Thanks for having [inaudible 00:58:18], Chris. This is Taylor Cashton, and you're listening to The Futur.

Greg:
Thanks so much for joining us in this episode. If you're new to The Futur and want to know more about our educational mission visit thefutur.com. You'll find more podcasts episodes, hundreds of YouTube videos, and a growing collection of online courses and products covering design and business. Oh, and we spelled The Futur with no E. The Futur podcast is hosted by Chris Do and produced by me, Greg Gunn.

Greg:
This episode was mixed and edited by Anthony Barough with intro music by Adam Sandler. If you enjoyed this episode then do us a favor and rate and review us on iTunes. It's a tremendous help in getting our message out there, and, you know, let's just know what you like. Thanks again for listening and we will see you next time.

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