Answering the question of what exactly does a typical day in the life of an architect look like is nearly impossible. There are certain things that seem to be fairly standard to one of my “typical” days but if I were to compare a day last week with a day from 5 years ago, those days would look completely different. How different? That’s exactly what we are discussing on today’s show.
[Note: If you are reading this via email, click here to access the on-site audio player]
I have a guest on today’s episode as my typical co-host Andrew Hawkins is recovering from a serious illness and a challenging workload. To help aid in his convalescence, he is taking a break from the show for a bit. To that end, I have another good friend of mine sitting in to play point and counterpoint in today’s conversation. Lane Acree, just like me, is an Associate Principal and Senior Project Designer at BOKA Powell. We also both started at the same time (even though Lane worked at BOKA Powell years ago before he moved back to Shreveport, Louisiana to be closer to family) so we have both gone through a similar indoctrination experience over the last year. This experience has led us to connect with one another to discuss and share thoughts about all different sorts of things and so when I needed someone to help out on the podcast, he seemed like an obvious and natural choice. It also doesn’t hurt that we also have similar personalities and are amused by the same things – the only difference I’ve noticed is that Lane seems to preternaturally love Adam Sandler movies whereas they don’t really hold my attention.
In an effort to ease into things for today’s conversation, it only made sense to begin at the beginning …
Prework jump to 2:08
The day begins early for me – mostly because I don’t sleep as much as I want to … despite my interest, I don’t seem to be physically able to sleep more than 5 or 6 hours a day. As a result, I get up and get my workday started. We discussed early morning rituals – some people exercise while others might get a cup of coffee and read the paper, but not me. Once I wake up I get about my business and I’m typically out the door in less than 30 minutes. I don’t typically eat breakfast despite the fact that it is probably my favorite meal of the day, nor do I drink coffee, so other than taking care of the dogs, I have few morning chores that require my attention.
Morning jump to 7:29
I would rather not confess here on this site that I am an aggressive driver and typical workday traffic drives me insanely crazy, but there it is. Part of the reason I get to work early is my attempt to mitigate the amount of traffic I have to contend with on my commute thereby reducing my early morning irritation. I typically arrive and have myself situated at my desk by 7:15 am every day and despite that early arrival time, there are always a few people who are already there. Part of the reason I like being in the office early is that the buzz in the office has not yet begun when I sit at my desk which allows me to focus my thoughts and mentally organize my to-do tasks for the day. The design “pod” where I sit is typically a slow roll group to arrive so I will get at least 60-90 minutes before others start to arrive
This is the time of day when I organize my thoughts and tasks for the day – I am too easily distracted by day-to-day things that simply take place. Design conversations, looking at projects, and chiming in on an impromptu review happens throughout my entire day and it’s too easy to lose track of the fact that I have project management tasks to complete.
I also make it a point to touch base with as many people as possible during the early part of the day. Contractors – what I can I do, are you waiting for something from me, how can I support you? If I don’t address these things early in the day, it is probable that I will not do them as the day wears on.
Lunch jump to 29:59
I actually hate leaving the office for lunch … which is not the same thing as not enjoying the act of being somewhere for lunch or going out with others for lunch. I know, I’m making it complicated, aren’t I?
First off, I like to think that if I make my own food and bring it in, I know it’s going to be good and I typically can’t wait to eat it. The part I don’t care for is getting in the car and driving someplace. If I could simply snap my fingers and be there … done. I would do that every day. (I’m starting to realize that maybe I don’t like driving around in traffic). However, there is an important team-building and social aspect to going out with others to lunch. The difference between my lunch experience now and how it has changed over the years has to do with the difficulty that comes with eating lunch with people who view you as their boss – something that I rarely spend time thinking about. In my last office, a small office of 8-12 people, we tended to not view people with their station within the office – everyone seemed mostly level with one another – but it feels quite a bit differently at a large office, or is it just me?
Afternoon jump to 35:25
The period right after lunch, in the early afternoon, is my least favorite time of the day. It isn’t because I feel like I need to take a nap after eating, I don’t tend to eat THAT much food at lunch, but it does seem to be the least productive time of the day for everyone. It’s possible that this is a side-effect of arriving at the office so early in the morning but the jury is still out on that theory. Sometime around 2:30 -3:00, I seem to get my second wind and things really start to pick back up. Most likely it’s because I start feeling the time-pressure of contacting people (or following up with them) before others start to leave for the day. It could also be that people seem to like scheduling meetings during this time of the day – I’m definitely NOT a fan of the early afternoon meeting but I’m confident that they aren’t going anywhere.
Evening jump to 45:56
I will confess that I am a workaholic … which I am not happy with but I haven’t figured out how to not be that way. It really started when I started this blog back in 2010 and I was writing blog posts and working on this site pretty much every waking hour that I was not sitting at my desk. As I have moved along in my career, the sorts of responsibilities I have picked up have made it increasingly difficult to spend as much time on the blog as I once did and as a result, I can’t post as often as I once did. Just as a point of reference, I recorded this podcast on a Monday which was around 3 hours of prep time and actual recording time, then I spent about 8 hours between Tuesday and Friday editing the content, about an hour on Saturday finalizing, adding in the music and doing a “proof” listen, and then I spent about 4 hours preparing the graphics and writing this post on Sunday (today). That’s 16 hours total for this one post – easy to see why I don’t do more than one blog post per week.
For the graphic for this image – and something that we talk about on the podcast is that I am frequently working past 10:00 pm – and so is my guest Lane. It is very common that one or the other of us will use Microsoft Teams and send a message through late (in the case of the conversation above, it started at 10:19 PM) only to have the other person respond because they are still working as well.
Some hypothetical questions are more important and resonant with the time in which we exist than others. Today is not one of those questions. jump to 47:29
A hateful spellcaster shows up in your bedroom in the middle of the night and informs you that you must decide whether he turns you into a Vampire or a Werewolf right then. What’s your answer?
I’m not sure that there is really a correct answer to this question since there are so many different interpretations of what a vampire or werewolf actually is … so setting the ground rules this time around might be even more important than ever. All I feel compelled to point out is that if you turn into a hairy beast as a werewolf, you can’t be Robert Pattinson as a Vampire – it makes this question too easy to answer. It’s either hairy wolf beast versus Nosferatu-esque vampire (I turned Lane into Nosferatu since he wrongfully chose to be turned into a Vampire).
How you define your day is really about more than the tasks that we tackle during our day. Other than the fact I can count on participating in 3 hours’ worth of internal meetings every Monday, I don’t really have a typical day when it comes to the tasks and chores I have day in and day out. In some regards, my random Tuesday is just as similar – and just as dissimilar – as any other day of the week.
Cheers and stay safe,
Life of an Architect would like to thank our media partners Building Design and Construction for their gracious and on-going support of this podcast. This is the 2nd year of our partnership and we are grateful for the guidance and insight they share with us that helps direct the show.