Even though it’s summer, and you’re probably thinking about the beach, the mountains or maybe a road trip with friends and family, summer is a good time to reflect. Though it’s certainly not always the case, things often move a little slower in summer, and it’s a good time to do a quick mid-year check-in.

For the media professional, a check-in might include professional goals, projects or skills you’ve been meaning to explore, and issues you have in the work arena, up to and including the tools of your trade. What does this have to do with computer hardware, you ask? Yes, we build, stability test and ship fully custom hardware to media professionals. But our mission is to liberate and boldly empower your creative vision. To support this aim, over the next year we’ll periodically explore the different Rubik’s Cube facets which, with alignment, make for a liberated and empowered experience.

Today I’d like to provide a simple overview of the three dimensions which support fulfillment of this mission and a thorough check-in:

1. Goals. Mid-year is a good time to review your work goals and priorities to see if anything has changed. You might explore new possibilities, seek counsel or simply make adjustments where necessary. These can be macro (career) and micro (your current work). Reviewing goals can have a surprising impact. You may find that your goals are not clear, that your trajectory is off, or even discover areas important to you where you have no goal! You can go so far as to review a mission statement or create one, or do something simpler like setting clear intentions in the different areas of your life.

If you’re someone who makes long list after long list regarding goals, Maria Brophy has good, simple advice: FOCUS on JUST ONE BIG GOAL UNTIL IT’S COMPLETE.

Or, you might want clarity on your goals, and one pat for getting underneath your “passion” is Cal Newport’s talk (which sites Steve Jobs’ Stanford graduation commencement speech) that “Follow Your Passion” is Bad Advice.

2. Work. It’s a big topic, but now is perhaps a good time to reflect on the component pieces that make up your work world. These might include people, workflow and tools, both hardware and software.

A. People. Perhaps there’s something that doesn’t work with one or more of the relationships at work. Is there something missing from the communication? Is there something you can go over with one or more people regarding approach, or listening in a new way? Communication is usually the factor in having relationships work, at work or elsewhere, and everyone can learn this skill better. Developing better communication skills is something we can all do, and it often pays huge dividends, from personal effectiveness to peace of mind.

B. Workflow. Is there a sticking point in your workflow? Do you have bottlenecks? Have you had them for a long time? Perhaps it would be good to go over your workflow with a third party, to diagnose what’s happening, but also consider workarounds you haven’t thought about.

C. Tools – Software. Is it time to update your software? Perhaps get that new plug-in? Or maybe there’s a new application you can get training for that you feel will enhance your productivity and creativity? For CG and VFX professionals, a good example is the new and often very fast GPU-based render engines like OctaneRender, Redshift, V-Ray and even the new Arnold GPU (beta) supporting applications like Maya, 3ds Max, Houdini and more.

D. Tools – Hardware. What are you currently using to get your work done? If you’re on a laptop, this could be a recipe for real pain week-in and week-out, especially if rendering is a big part of what you do (and that pain may be financial if cloud render is your solution). Or maybe you have an old Mac or an old PC that you know is slowing you down. This can be a simple factor of hardware age, but can also be an age-based system limitation which is causing crashing when loading or creating scenes, for example – a huge drag when you’re on deadline, right? Or you may have a powerful system that’s two or three years old for which a new ultra fast m.2 drive or new GPUs would make a huge difference in your productivity.

3. Play. Yes, play. If you are a media professional, play is at the heart of what you do. It’s that joyful part of creativity that is free and available and wondrous, but can get forgotten or lost among grueling deadlines and other life obligations. It may be time to see about that class, exploring what play is, or simply making time for play.

While it might seem like a lot of ground to cover, this is your life – these are things you think and care about. It’s why we want to explore these topics. Mid year and summer is a good time to reflect on what’s working, what’s not working, and what’s most important to you, and consider how you might refresh, renew and explore how you go about achieving your goals, building your career and enhancing your life.

FIRST 10 REQUESTS: Through August 31 we’re offering a free, 30 minute diagnostic for the first 10 respondents. In it we’ll go through your workflow with you to identify bottlenecks and / or see what you might do to optimize your work and work experience. Just email us at sales@mediaworkstations.net with your issue(s) and we’ll schedule a time to go over it with you at a time that works best for you.