What two things help me with my job | Alaina Crystal

An A3 pad and some fun markers

I have a pot of markers that has followed me from London to New York and back to London again in the past 9 years. I’ve lost some along the way, and left some with cherished colleagues overseas to babysit, but by and large, the pot stays full and the pads fill up year on year.

The way I like to start tackling any challenge is just to mind map - to free associate and try to make sense of the connections between things and springboards to things. It helps me get out of my brain and into my gut (which honestly, I trust more than my brain at this point) and it helps me work out what I already know, what I need to learn, and who and where I might learn those things. The pad definitely needs to be A3 to fit it all in; in truth, the markers could just be black, but how dull, right?

Very very fast music

When I first started out in planning, I listened to a lot of ambient and classical, thinking that it would make me a refined genius planner like those I was surrounded by. And then I worked out that it probably wasn’t the music that was going to make me a refined genius planner (ever), so I turned to the music I’ve always loved - Hüsker Dü, Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers, White Lung, Big Ups, Brand New and The Replacements - as the backdrop to deck writing and problem solving. And while bopping my head very fast at my desk is probably A) bad for my neck and B) bad for my social image, it is good for my inspiration, my flow and most importantly, for my self belief, so I’m sticking to it.

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