Episode Number 30

Perfectionism & Procrastination with Denise Jacobs

Oct 16, 2014 @ 11AM MT

As designers and developers, we can be groomed to expect perfection in our work. Sometimes that pressure leads to procrastination, and the loop it creates can leave us (and our clients!) unsatisfied and frazzled. Speaker, author and creativity evangelist Denise Jacobs explains how to alleviate perfectionist tendencies, and talk about structured, productive procrastination, as well as provides us with tips on how to be more efficient, creative, and happier web workers individually and in teams.

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interview
denise jacobs
perfectionism
procrastination
workflow
tips
professionalism
professional development
efficiency

Episode Transcript

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[Music]

Lea Alcantara:  You are listening to CTRL+CLICK CAST.  We inspect the web for you!  Today we’re talking about perfectionism and procrastination with Denise Jacobs.  I’m your host, Lea Alcantara, and I’m joined by my fab co-host:

Emily Lewis: Emily Lewis! 

Lea Alcantara:  Todays’ episode is sponsored by Visual Chefs, a versatile web development agency with expertise in content management system and custom web application development.  Through partnerships with designers, agencies and organizations, Visual Chefs propels the web forward.

Emily Lewis:  CTRL+CLICK would also like to thank Pixel & Tonic for being our major sponsor.

[Music ends] So today we’re talking to creativity evangelist, Denise Jacobs, about the perfectionism-procrastination loop that sometimes hinders productivity.  Some of our listeners may know Denise for her front end work and education including her book, the CSS Detective Guide, but these days, Denise has turned her passion towards creativity and productivity.  She consults with companies and individuals to make their creative processes more fluid as well as give them methods for making work environments more conducive to creative productivity.  Welcome to the show, Denise.

Denise Jacobs: Hey, thank you, you guys.  It’s so great to be here. 

Lea Alcantara: Excellent.  So Denise, can you tell our listeners a bit more about yourself?

Denise Jacobs: Yes.  So just like Emily said, I am a former front-end developer and designer, but over the last several years I’ve shifted my focus pretty dramatically away from front-end development to more towards creativity and productivity and innovation.  So now, I really have been focused primarily on speaking and trying to get the word out about all of the things that I find wonderful about creativity, but I have also recently started my own creativity consulting firm which is called A Creative Dose, and I partnered up with a woman named Jessie Shternshus of The Improv Effect, and we are now going around basically trying to achieve world domination through creativity through innovation.  [Laughs]

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Emily Lewis:  [Laughs]

Denise Jacobs: So it’s been pretty amazing to see how, you know, and actually, Emily, we had a talk a couple of years back, a few years back at South By Southwest, and Lea, I don’t know if you know this, but Emily, we were talking, and I was like, “You know, I’m just really interested in doing something different than front-end development.”  She was like, “You know, you should be like a coach or like a motivational thing or something.” 

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Emily Lewis:  [Laughs]

Denise Jacobs: She’s like, “If you did that, I would totally listen to you because you’re just so like inspiring most of the time.”  And I was like, “Ha!”  So that did not fall on deaf ears, Emily.  That’s what I’m doing now, but through creativity and through innovation.

Emily Lewis:  Well, I’m so excited for you.  I’m curious, you mentioned your partner’s name is Jessie, is that right?

Denise Jacobs: Jessie Shternshus, yeah.

Emily Lewis:  Jessie Shternshus, she’s a comedienne?  She does improv, or is that something else?

Denise Jacobs: She’s not a comedienne.  What she does, it’s really interesting.  I met her at the Norwegian Developers Conference in Oslo back in June, and she had done a workshop the day before me, which was like kind of creativity and innovation skills for developers, but using improvisation techniques.

Lea Alcantara: [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: And so she does something that’s called applied improvisation.  So it’s not like you’re getting up on a stage and like, “Let’s just make up a sketch.” 

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: It’s more like using improvisation techniques to teach concepts. 

Lea Alcantara: [Agrees]

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: Yeah, it’s really, really interesting, or actually, I’m going to be going to attend.  It’s one of the first conferences I’ve actually gone to attend and not just speak at, and I can’t remember how long.

Emily Lewis:  [Laughs]

Denise Jacobs: But there’s a conference called the Applied Improvisation Network Conference.

Lea Alcantara: [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: And that is in November, at the beginning of November in Austin, Texas, and I am thrilled about going to this conference and learning all kinds of new stuff to apply to what I’m doing.

Emily Lewis:  I’m so excited for you.  It’s just proves it.  I knew this when I met you that the first South By Southwest I went to, that’s when I met you, but you set your mind to something and you go for it.  I’ve always appreciated that about you because I remember when we were talking last year, and you were talking about this is the direction you were going, and I was so excited for you, and here it is.  You’ve made it come true.

Denise Jacobs: Yeah.  It’s really interesting.  I once dated a guy many years ago, kind of in my dark days of dating.  [Laughs]

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Emily Lewis:  [Laughs]

Denise Jacobs: And I was involved with this guy for a while and he used to do this thing that I just really didn’t understand, which was he would talk about stuff and he would talk about plans and talk about things that he wanted to do, and then nothing would happen.

Lea Alcantara: [Agrees]

Emily Lewis:  Right, you’re a doer.

Denise Jacobs: I didn’t understand that.  I was like, “Why would you even bother to use your breath to say something that you weren’t actually going to act on?”  And it just made me very conscious of trying to make an effort to not do that myself.

Lea Alcantara: Right.

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: So usually when I say something, I mean business and it doesn’t mean that it’s going to happen tomorrow.  It may take years, but like just know the fact that I mentioned it means that I’m working on it no matter what.  [Laughs]

Emily Lewis:  That actually kind of presents an interesting segue way to the topic of procrastination.  [Laughs]

Denise Jacobs: [Agrees]

Lea Alcantara: [Agrees]

Emily Lewis:  So one of the reasons I wanted to have you on the show is you did a great piece for [Web Standards] Sherpa on perfectionism-procrastination loop.

Denise Jacobs: Yes.

Emily Lewis:  And I wanted to talk about that because it’s something that when you and I were working on the piece together, I just related to it so much because I’m a perfectionist and I really have issues with procrastination. 

Lea Alcantara: [Agrees]

Emily Lewis:  So let’s start with some of the basics.  How would you define perfectionism?

Denise Jacobs: Well, perfectionism is basically when you’re really focused on having this outcome, be perfect and you’re not really focused so much on the process itself, but you just want it.  You have this kind of vision in your head and you want to achieve that vision at all costs, no matter if that means you’re not going to sleep or eat or anything.  It’s like you have this kind of almost skewed vision of what’s achievable and what’s acceptable, and there’s really no kind of wiggle room, like it has to be this one thing and that’s it.  That’s kind of one of the ways I think about it.

Lea Alcantara: So how would you define procrastination?

Denise Jacobs: Well, procrastination is when you put something off that you want to achieve.  So you’ve got a list of things and you just kind of put it off and put it off and never get around to doing it, or it takes an inordinately long time for you to finally do it. 

Emily Lewis:  I mean I feel like procrastination might be a learned behavior, but is perfectionism a learned behavior or is it like trait?  I feel like I’ve always move the way that I am.

Denise Jacobs: Yeah, but it’s one of those things.  It’s kind of hard to unpack.  I mean, like when did you first get the memo, you know?  [Laughs]

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Emily Lewis:  [Laughs]

Denise Jacobs: Like when did you first get the memo that if you made a mistake, it was going to be horrible for you?

Emily Lewis:  Go bad. 

Denise Jacobs: Yeah. 

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Denise Jacobs: Yeah, like it was going to be like the consequences were just going to be unbearable, and the irony of it is really funny.  I remember there was this point in time when I was responsible, from the age of seven actually, I was responsible for washing the dishes after school, so whatever dishes were in the sink, I would come home and wash the dishes, and I was actually excited about it.  Like on my 7th birthday I was like, “Oh my God, I did to like contribute to the household.” 

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Emily Lewis:  [Laughs]

Denise Jacobs: My parents were so good at tricking me.  [Laughs]

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Emily Lewis:  [Laughs]

Denise Jacobs: They were really.  They’re masters at their craft.  But after a certain period of time, like it wore off after about three days, I was like, “Wait a minute, what?” 

Emily Lewis:  [Laughs]

Denise Jacobs: But I remember this one time when I was a teenager, that I wanted to go out and hang out with a friend across the street and my mother was like, “No, no, you have to finish washing the dishes and you have to do a thorough job and you’re not leaving the kitchen until the dishes are done right.” 

Lea Alcantara: [Agrees]

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: I was like, “Whoa.”  I was like, “That’s kind of heavy duty.”  [Laughs]  It’s like you have to do a thorough job.  Now, the irony, like I said is I’d roll up to my mom’s house and look through.  I’ll be like putting the dishes away and I’ll be like, “Really?” 

Emily Lewis:  [Laughs]

Denise Jacobs: Throw it again, “Is it really food still on this dish?”  I would be like, “Oh, I guess I missed that.”  I’m like, “Yeah.”  So when I was 14, it was all about doing a thorough job and now you don’t care.  So I think with things like that, they happen, and there’s no way that we can pinpoint like that time when you were four or that time that you were two and you see people with kids all the time, and it’s, “No, put that down.  No, don’t touch that.  Dude, you’ve got to do this and this.  Why are your shoes untied?  Dude, you’ve got dirt on your face?  La, la, la.”  This is very easy to see how something like that could become instilled so early that you can’t figure out where it came from. 

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Lea Alcantara: Well, for me, just observing, I also like really relate to this like growing up stereotyping myself.  I’m from an Asian family.

Denise Jacobs: [Agrees]

Lea Alcantara: And coming from that, “You must get all As, 90%, why not 100” kind of type of discussion.  So I definitely get that.  What I’m curious about in terms of like having things learned because of how you’re brought up or part of it is innate, I feel like there’s a lot of individuals in our tech industry that exhibit these types of perfectionist traits.  I’m curious if you believe that just based on your observation that that’s more prevalent in this industry than other industries. 

Timestamp:  00:09:46

Denise Jacobs: Well, I’ve been in this industry since 1997, so I don’t know if I have a whole lot of other industries to compare it with, but I would have to say that or this is what I’ll say, this content seems to resonate a lot with people in this industry not just from this article but from this article and some other work that I’ve done.  I have a talk that’s called Banish Your Inner Critic.  A big part of it is this perfectionism and procrastination and how they work together, and afterwards, I’ve had a lot of people come up and say, “Oh my God, you were talking to me.” 

Emily Lewis:  Right.

Denise Jacobs: Like I have all that like, “Check?  Yeah.  Check, check, check.”  Like just going down the list and people have said that it really resonates with them.  Particularly, in this industry, I think the tendency is to get into that because there is so much to learn, and because if you do make mistakes, sometimes the mistakes are a big deal, you know?

Lea Alcantara: [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: If you don’t code something right, it could break stuff.

Lea Alcantara: Right.

Denise Jacobs: It could mess up the server.  It could kill the website.  There are a lot of reasons why being careful and being thorough, for our lack of a better word, and precise is necessary in our industry, but sometimes then that tendency, it’s like you don’t know when to turn it off.

Emily Lewis:  As you were describing that, something kind of came up in my mind.  When I was really getting into standards-based development, one of the things I liked about it is that the rules seemed very hard and fast at the time, “This is how you do it and if you’re not doing it this way, you’re not supporting standards.”  That’s how I perceived it and received it and processed it.

Denise Jacobs: [Agrees]

Emily Lewis:  And I carried that through as I was learning it and became proficient in that approach, that workflow, that mindset and keeping with the techniques that support that, it kind of fed those perfectionistic tendencies in myself because there was a right way and there was a wrong way, and it was black and white.  But then as I got into more education and public speaking and really sharing, and then also as my work evolved, that sort of hard and fast thinking, it’s more nuanced than that.

Denise Jacobs: [Agrees]

Emily Lewis:  But if you learn it like I did, and coming at it from a right or wrong perspective, I think it can be really attractive to someone who’s perfectionistic, but then you get caught in a box like that and you have to say, “These are the best practices.”

Denise Jacobs: Right.

Lea Alcantara: Right.

Emily Lewis:  There are no rules.  This is what you have to.

Denise Jacobs: Right.

Emily Lewis:  But this is what we found works best.  It’s just more nuanced.

Denise Jacobs: It is more nuanced, and that could be true of everything.  Here’s a best practice, but then there’s also get or done, you know?

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Emily Lewis:  Right.  [Laughs]

Denise Jacobs: There’s like we need to get this out of the door.

Emily Lewis:  The realities.

Denise Jacobs: And then there’s also like is it worth?  Like one of the things that I like seeing, there’s something called Pareto’s Principle which was the 80% versus the 20%, and I liked the idea of using that and applying it to perfectionism and saying, “Okay, instead of saying this whole thing of you get 80% of your work from 20% of your clients, for example, would be an application of that.”  But I like taking that 80% and 20% and saying, “Okay, if you do 80% of awesome like you’re still closer to awesome than not awesome.”  Right?

Lea Alcantara: Right.

Emily Lewis:  Right.

Denise Jacobs: If you do 80% of what you would consider amazing, perfect, and flawless, then you are still ahead of the game, and that 20% that you would spend trying to make it absolutely with no chinks or flaws or anything is not going to be worth it, most of the time it really isn’t.

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: For example, I was saying that I’m working with Jessie and now we’ve been putting out all kinds of proposals for work, and I’ll send something to her and she’ll be like, “Oh my God, this proposal is gorgeous.”  And I’ll be just like, “Oh, but will you look and see if there’s anything wrong with it?”  And she would be like, “Are you kidding?”  She’s like, “I have sent way uglier proposals than this and way less put together than this and I still got the work.”  [Laughs]

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]  Right.

Denise Jacobs: She was like, “This is great.  Let’s just send it.  There may be typos and stuff in it, but you know what, that never stopped me before.  It’s not going to stop us.  It’s not going to, you know.  The overall thing is good.”  So it’s really nice too because I’m still personally battling perfectionism.  It’s in there.  It’s deeply ingrained.  I did this article because I needed the article. 

Lea Alcantara: Right.

Denise Jacobs: I talk about this stuff because I need it too, and I did this article because I’m working on it and having somebody who doesn’t have the problem, is not afflicted with perfectionism, is really helpful for me because it helps me put things in perspective.  It’s like she’s like, “This is gorgeous.  Let’s just send it.  Let’s go and let’s do the next one.”

Lea Alcantara: Well, I feel like that phrase “just send it” is so much harder to actually do.

Denise Jacobs: [Agrees]

Lea Alcantara: And I feel like that pressure of perfectionism is what, at least for me, leads to procrastination where it’s like, “Okay, I really want it to be perfect and perhaps maybe it’s my idea of perception that it’s perfect and want the other person to believe.  It’s perfect beyond just myself so it’s like I put it off, I put it off.  I keep reading it, even if I don’t make a change, sometimes I have a design or something, I just stare at it for hours, no change before I’m like, “Okay, maybe I should send it.”  I fiddle my thumbs.  I fiddle my thumbs.  How do you feel perfectionism leads to procrastination?  How does it develop?

Denise Jacobs: The thing is that when you got this kind of heightened sense of it needs to be right and it needs to be perfect and all of this stuff, you feel like if you don’t actually achieve that, then it means that there’s something bad about you or there is something wrong or you’re like unworthy or whatever, and so it’s like you’re trying to kind of forestall that inevitable, what you feel like that other shoe dropping or that kind of mallet coming down like, “Oh.”

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Lea Alcantara: Yeah.

Denise Jacobs: I think what happens is we’re not just putting things off because like a lot of times with procrastination, it’s like this kind of misguided sense of what is necessary or how long it’s going to take or what the actual tasks are or whatever, like how many times have you put off something because you said, “Oh my God, it’s going to take me so long”?  Then when you finally do it, you’re like, “That took me like 20 minutes.”  [Laughs]

Emily Lewis:  Yeah.

Lea Alcantara: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Denise Jacobs: That didn’t take any time at all.  But you spent more time thinking about how long it was going to take you to do it than it actually took to do it. 

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: So it’s this kind of misguided sense of what is necessary.  I think perfectionists put things off because they kind of fear that criticism or the ridicule or whatever, and fear the sense of failure like fear somebody.  Sometimes it’s like I put all this time into a proposal or I put so much time into preparing stuff.  I used to do this when I did presentations because I didn’t want anybody to ever come back and say you’re wrong.

Lea Alcantara: Right.

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: That wasn’t correct.  You didn’t do your research, blah, blah, blah, and especially, and you two know about this, especially being female in our industry, in a technical industry, then it’s like we’re up for that much more scrutiny, and then for me, being African-American and female, then I’m up for that even that much more scrutiny so I never ever wanted anybody to come up and just be like, “You know what, you don’t know what you’re talking about, and then, you see, this is why we don’t have folks like you speaking at these conferences because you all don’t know anything.”

Lea Alcantara: Do you feel like…

Denise Jacobs: And so…

Lea Alcantara: Sorry, sorry to interrupt.

Denise Jacobs: No, no.

Lea Alcantara: It sounds very similar to impostor syndrome. 

Denise Jacobs: Super impostor, super-duper, and I feel like they’re all related, right?

Emily Lewis:  Right.

Denise Jacobs: And I feel like in a lot of ways, this is why I kind of focus on this, that these are kind of the key blocks to people actually expressing themselves creatively.

Lea Alcantara: [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: So impostor syndrome, perfectionism, procrastination, comparisons, that sort of thing, all of those like get us all kind of lost in the sauce as it were and get it to the point where all those great ideas and like all of our genius and brilliance is trapped and blocked and kind of going in circles because those ideas aren’t able to flow because these things block them.

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: And so that’s one of the reasons why I focus on this so much because it’s real, because a lot of people say, “Yeah, I struggle with this all the time.”  Brilliant people say that they struggle with this all the time.  Brilliant people struggle with impostor syndrome and perfectionism and procrastination.  So it’s like I don’t think anybody is immune to it. 

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: So if we can kind of drill down and get to the bottom of it, and figure out ways to kind of bust through the blocks, then we can get it so that creativity and innovation really flow.

Emily Lewis:  I think one of the finding what those blocks are, it kind of starts with even recognizing that there’s a problem, and so I was hoping that maybe you could give our listeners an example of what this perfectionist loop to procrastination how it might translate in like a web project. 

Denise Jacobs: You guys have experienced this before, I’m sure, yourselves so many times, and I’m sure a lot of people have.  It’s like I’ve had situations personally when I was doing web projects and stuff where I talked to the client.  I’m like super excited.  We have a great conversation.  It’s so clear about everything that needs to be done, and I’m like totally jazzed about it and stuff, and then invariably something pops up, and usually, that would be in the form of a speaking engagement, and then like when I finally get back to the project, it’s just like, “Okay, wait a minute.  We talked about this, and I really want them to be happy with the project, and I probably need to do some more research before I can really get started on this.” 

So then I dive into research because research is like my comfort zone, and then you find all this crazy stuff during your research that affects what you’re doing and then you’re like, “Okay, well, then maybe I should change the process because of these new things that I found with the research.”

Timestamp:  00:20:18

Lea Alcantara: Right.

Denise Jacobs: And then you start changing the process and then you’re just like, “Oh my God, this is going to take so much longer than I thought, and I only said that it was going to take these many hours.”  So then you’re like trying to figure out how you can do the work without it taking too many hours and then you’ve got to talk to the client about the extra hours and you don’t want to do that, and you’re like, “Well, maybe I can just do…” and it just keeps spiraling out of control, I think, until you’re like, “I don’t even want to look at this, like it’s just going to be too much to try to unravel everything and I have to add this, and I have to do that, and then I have to talk to the client, and I’m already behind because it took me too long.”  And then you’re lost.  You’re lost and nobody ends up happy.  The client is like, “Hey, so where we’re at with stuff?”

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Lea Alcantara: Right.

Denise Jacobs: And you’re like, “I’m just in a moment, it’s coming.”  And we’ve all had this.

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: And then finally, when you get it out the door, this has been my problem, I did way too much work.  Way, way, way, way too much work like ten times more work than I needed to. 

Emily Lewis:  Yeah, yeah.

Denise Jacobs: In trying to make this stupid thing perfect, I was late.  I was over budget, and I did too much, and like if I had given them a fraction of what I had on time, they would have been happier.

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Lea Alcantara: Right.

Emily Lewis:  And you would have been less stressed.

Denise Jacobs: And I would have been through it.

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: Less stressed.  I would have slept.  I would have eaten, and so I can’t imagine that my experience is singular and unique.

Lea Alcantara: Not at all.

Emily Lewis:  [Laughs]

Denise Jacobs: Okay, good.  [Laughs]  And I think that’s what ends up happening, and we’ve all experienced that.  There have been some projects that were better than others.  Some projects that actually went smoothly, but then there were those, however many, that just went completely off track and then we struggled like I have struggled to try to get them back on track.

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: And I couldn’t.  I just couldn’t because of this stuff, because of the perfectionism. 

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Lea Alcantara: Yeah, I think it’s especially because we’re in our technological industry, there’s always something new, right?

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: Right. 

Lea Alcantara: When you were talking and explaining this exact scenario, I thought of Emily, when you started implementing our Sass and starter files.  [Laughs]

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: [Agrees]

Lea Alcantara: And how many times you’re like, “Okay, I’m going to change this.  I’m going to change this.  Okay, just wait until this is fixed, then you can take a look at it.”

Emily Lewis:  Yeah. 

Denise Jacobs: [Agrees]

Emily Lewis:  I’ve actually had to force myself to adopt the mentality that our base files that we used to kick off our projects that they themselves are in a constant state of evolution.  They will never be perfect, and so wherever they stand, when we start a new project, is the base of that project. 

Denise Jacobs: Right.

Emily Lewis:  I can’t spend all my time.

Lea Alcantara: And you can’t change it, yeah.

Emily Lewis:  Yeah, and when I’m in the middle of a project, I am not implementing anything new.  I might find things new and they go on a list for later. 

Denise Jacobs: Nice.  Nice.

Emily Lewis:  There’s no other way to manage it other than just being really strict with yourself.

Lea Alcantara: Yeah.

Denise Jacobs: Because you’ll drive yourself crazy with it.

Lea Alcantara: Yeah.

Emily Lewis:  Yeah. Well, and another thing that occurred to me when you were describing that scenario is something that I try to remind myself regularly, and it’s from Anna Brown.  We had her on the show sometime last year, and she basically said, “We’re just making websites.  Your life isn’t in danger.  This isn’t going to change the world.  It’s just a website.” 

Denise Jacobs: Right. 

Emily Lewis:  And so whenever I start getting really caught up in the needing to be on time and needing it to be perfect and blah, blah, blah, I just remember that it is just a website, and that nothing has to be perfect at any given point in time.  It can always be improved and that’s always okay.

Denise Jacobs: Yeah, and I know that this is kind of a sacrilege in our industry and all that stuff, but if it’s not the most beautifully crafted code… [Laughs]

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Emily Lewis:  [Laughs]

Denise Jacobs: Or the most perfectly put together based on all of the latest best practices, which change on like a monthly basis…

Lea Alcantara: Right.

Denise Jacobs: Like the standards, I remember when I was a few years back when I was teaching CSS3, and like I had kind of started really doing more of the creativity, speaking on creativity and stuff, so I had one workshop that happened in like February or April, and then I didn’t do another one until October.  Between, within like that six-month period of time, as a matter of fact, I think it was like between April and September even, in that period of time, the specification for gradient had changed.

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: And Chrome and those guys were doing the same thing that Mozilla was, so WebKit was the same as Mozilla, the syntax, whereas the syntax had been like really different. 

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: And I was like, “Really?” 

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Denise Jacobs: I cannot.  Like I have to do something else because I can’t, this is going to drive me crazy because I know that I’m a perfectionist.

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Emily Lewis:  [Laughs]

Denise Jacobs: And because I want this stuff to be right and all the other things that I listed earlier.  I was like, “I can’t.  Can you give me something that doesn’t change every other day?”

Emily Lewis:  Well, and it’s not just the change.  I mean, there are parts of that change that I love because I love learning and being in a constant state of learning appeals to me.

Denise Jacobs: [Agrees]

Emily Lewis:  But there are people, and I can admit that once upon a time I was one of these people.

Denise Jacobs: Right.

Emily Lewis:  Where I would look at people’s source code and judge them on it like, “Okay.”  You know.

Denise Jacobs: Okay.

Lea Alcantara: Yeah, right.

Emily Lewis:  And like people….

Denise Jacobs: And life is too short for that.

Emily Lewis:  It is.

Denise Jacobs: It’s like flowers to be smelled and like delicious fruit to be eaten and sun to be soaked up.  It’s like what do we gain from doing something like that, that kind of craziness.

Emily Lewis:  [Laughs]  Yeah.

Denise Jacobs: But it’s true, and I think in certain circles, that was expected, right?

Lea Alcantara: [Agrees]

Emily Lewis:  Right.

Denise Jacobs: This was it means to be a standardista, you knonw? 

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: This is what it means to be really into the craft of making the code, and I think there’s a certain point where you get to a point where you’re just like, “But the site needs to be built,” and I always feel like if anybody is going to be looking at my code and judging it, then they can come in and fix it. 

Lea Alcantara: Right. 

Emily Lewis:  Right.  [Laughs]

Lea Alcantara: I feel like right now we’re talking about our individual ideas and our own experiences, but I feel like the procrastination-perfectionism loop affects teams and I feel like that might be where a lot of tension can occur, you know?

Denise Jacobs: Yes.

Lea Alcantara: It’s just Emily and I in our team, so it’s easier to communicate, but once you’ve got a larger team, and some of these larger teams can be siloed in their specific individual tasks and particular things.  Usually it’s like a design team wants this particular look and feel and then the development team is like, “Well, we need to have it launched tomorrow so we’re not going to put everything on there,” and there’s that tension over there because of that.  They feel like they’re not being heard, and then there’s that perfectionism in both teams trying to like just do the best that they can.

Denise Jacobs: It’s kind of duking it out

Lea Alcantara: Yeah, exactly.  So I’m trying to figure out, well, how do we alleviate that?  Well, I know people will always judge whatever other has worked.  That’s just life, but I’m just trying to figure out, well, how do we break that down? 

Denise Jacobs: Well, it’s actually really interesting.  So I have a couple of thoughts on that.  The first one is that part of that is culture, right?

Emily Lewis:  Right.

Denise Jacobs: Some part of that is company culture, part of that is team culture, that sort of thing, and culture can be changed.  Culture can be shifted.  I think when teams, when individuals within teams are given the proper tools to really work within the team differently and kind of up level, how they work together and how they communicate, then it can really change the dynamic of the team and change actually the way the team produces, and how people produce individually and also how they produce collectively, and that’s actually some of the work that Jessie and I do with A Creative Dose is we actually focus a lot on team communication and collaboration and working first with people, kind of helping them with their individual, working on like identifying, “Oh, I do this.  I do this perfectionism thing, or I do this procrastination thing.”

Lea Alcantara: [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: Like you were saying earlier about just the awareness of it, so kind of increasing the awareness and then saying, “Okay, now that you know that you do this, here are some ways that you can work together better, and here are some things that you can use to put in to the culture of the team that will start to shift that dynamic.”  So that’s one of the reasons why improv, using improv techniques, is so powerful because with improv, it’s like there aren’t mistakes.  They’re just like gifts.  It’s like whatever somebody gives you, you go with it, right?

Lea Alcantara: [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: So when you get into a mind frame where the stakes aren’t so high for making mistakes, then I think it’s easier to start getting away from, “Oh okay, like this has to be perfect.”  Just like you were saying, I’m not going to touch the files when we start a project.  We’re not allowed, you now?

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: And so the same thing.  The other thing that I was thinking that’s really helpful, and then you guys I think are a really good example of this, and anybody who works with other people is a good example of this.  When you work with other people and you realize that this is something that’s an issue, you find people that you work with who you synergize well with, then you can have them offset your tendencies. 

Timestamp:  00:30:04

Emily Lewis:  Right.

Denise Jacobs: So Lea, I am sure that you probably see Emily like starting to go down the rabbit hole.

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Denise Jacobs: And you’re like, “Emily, come away from the light.  Go away from the light.”  [Laughs]

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Emily Lewis:  [Laughs]

Denise Jacobs: And you’re just like, “Don’t go there.”  You’re like, “Look, it’s fine, we’ll send it, it’s cool.  We’re done.  You have to go to bed now.”  You know?

Emily Lewis:  [Laughs]

Denise Jacobs: It’s like that sort of thing. 

Lea Alcantara: Yeah.

Denise Jacobs: And when you have people who kind of have your back that way, then it starts to help you see that you don’t have to do that. 

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: Because part of it is kind of a coping mechanism or like a survival mechanism. 

Emily Lewis:  Right.

Denise Jacobs: You’re doing this because you think that it’s going to help you avoid some kind of pain or something in the future.  But when somebody else says like, “You know what, you’re fine.  Nothing bad is going to happen.  It’s going to be okay.”

Lea Alcantara: Right.

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: Then it’s like it helps you relax on it.  So having people around you to kind of help you, kind of call you on your stuff and pull you away from the edge of the precipice, from the abyss, that really helps, and then like I said also having some different techniques for communication and things like that also help change the team dynamics so that people aren’t as wrapped up with “it’s got to be perfect.”  They’re more wrapped up with like, “Let’s see how we can make this work together.” 

Lea Alcantara: Yeah, I definitely can relate to that.  I just keep thinking about the branding exercise Emily and I went through.

Denise Jacobs: How was that anyway?

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]  Wonderful and painful.  [Laughs]

Emily Lewis:  Yeah. 

Denise Jacobs: Why?

Lea Alcantara: Yeah, I think that’s….

Emily Lewis:  Like anything good… [Laughs]

Lea Alcantara: Yeah, and I think part of the thing, because Emily and I, we do both have these perfectionist tendencies, and I think what helped is that we both agree ahead of time to give ourselves deadlines.  Because if we give ourselves these deadlines that we’re immutable, then it forces us to like say, “Well, the decision needs to be made now.”

Denise Jacobs: Right.

Lea Alcantara: And then we made peace with those decisions, you know?

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: [Agrees]

Lea Alcantara: It wasn’t like we made arbitrary dates and that’s the date and it’s totally immovable.

Denise Jacobs: Right.

Lea Alcantara: But it’s one of those things where if we had a date and we wanted to make sure that we can move forward in our decision making process, especially when we’re trying to figure out our name and our logo and all those kinds of things, at some point, we had the discussion that’s in like not moving forward is going to harm us actually, you know?

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: [Agrees]

Lea Alcantara: So it was better to actually move beyond like it has to be the most perfect name and the most perfect logo forever and ever, amen, you know?  [Laughs]

Denise Jacobs: [Agrees]

Lea Alcantara: And then once we had that in place, it was just, “Okay, here’s the decision.  Can we work with this?” 

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: Right.

Lea Alcantara: In most times we can.

Denise Jacobs: Yeah, and I think the time factor too, kind of being more realistic about time really helps. 

Lea Alcantara: Yeah.

Denise Jacobs: Like I really like being aware of this is what’s happening right now.  It doesn’t mean that it’s happening forever.

Lea Alcantara: Yes.

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: It just means that it’s happening right now.  Several years back before I really, well, actually kind of in the middle of when I started working in the web industry but then I was getting frustrated and I decided to start learning how make herbal soaps.

Lea Alcantara: Oh, what a shift.  [Laughs]

Emily Lewis:  [Laughs]

Denise Jacobs: And so yeah.  Yes, so I actually started making soap and then I started teaching people how to make soap, and I started this soap-making business.  This was back in like 1998 or 1997, and I remember a friend of mine said to me at one point.  I was like, “Yeah, I think I’m going to start this soap-making thing.”  He was like, “Really, Denise, I mean, do you want to be a soap maker for the rest of your life?”  I was just like, “Well, I wasn’t actually talking about the rest of my life.  I was talking about right now.” 

Lea Alcantara: Right.

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: “Like I want to be a soap maker right now, and we’ll see where it leads me and if it doesn’t work, then I’ll do something else, or when I’m tired and I want to do something else, I’d do something else.  But right now, this is what I want to do.”  And that was really interesting because it also made me see her perceptions and see how she perceives the world in a different way.  It was like, “Oh, I didn’t realize that she had this thing where it’s like once she make a decision like that was it.  That’s your decision.”

Lea Alcantara: That was it.

Emily Lewis:  Yeah.

Denise Jacobs: It’s like, “Nope, not really.  This is just what’s happening right now.”  I think that’s the same thing.  If you guys decide that you want to rebrand at some point, you will do that, and no puppies will die.  The world is not going to turn off of its axis or anything like that.  Everything is going to be fine, and so that’s the other thing that helps me a lot of times with the perfectionism stuff is where I would just say, “You know what, for now, this is fine.”  I used to say this when I was in college when people would say when we’d hand in our papers and they’d be like, “Well, so do you feel like it was good?”  I was like, “You know what, at this point, it’s done and done is good.  Just by the fact that it’s done means that it’s a good paper.  Whatever grade I get, I get, but it’s done, and that’s great.”

Emily Lewis:  So Denise, one thing that I often tell myself when I’m in the midst of this perfectionist-procrastination loop is that sometimes when I’m procrastinating, maybe I’m lying to myself, but I actually feel like it helps me get past the procrastination.  It helps me finally reach productivity, like sometimes getting all the laundry done and making sure that the house is clean is really helpful for me to put my mind at ease even if I’m on a super tight deadline and I’m already pushing the limit of what I can get done.

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Emily Lewis:  So is there such a thing as procrastination that actually it’s productive that helps you?

Denise Jacobs: Well, there is actually something called productive procrastination, and there’s actually something else which I’ll talk to you in a moment, but the productive proc… we’ll say that five times fast…

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Emily Lewis:  [Laughs]

Denise Jacobs: Productive procrastination.  If you say it slow it helps.  The thing that’s interesting about that, and it’s actually a thing, is that the way you do it is you take, let’s say, you have three tasks that are all fairly high priority.  If you take instead of the one that’s the highest priority, let’s say, and you start working on this one that’s kind of a second priority but you start make headway on that, that’s, in fact, basically known as productive procrastination. 

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: So you’re not working on the thing that you kind of determined to be the top priority, but you are working on something that is high priority, and so a lot of times too, like I don’t know about you guys, but sometimes when I’m working on something, after a while I just need a break from it, so then I’ll kind of switch myself to something else that needs to get done, and I’ll work on that, and then I’ll switch back once I’ve kind of had a sufficient amount of time as a break from the first thing, then I’ll go back to it.  So productive procrastination actually does exist and it can be an effective tactic. 

The other thing that I wanted to mention though is not necessarily about productive procrastination per se, but it has to do with how our brains work to be creative and how our brains work to kind of process stuff.  I have a talk called White space creativity, which talks about how you kind of leverage in between spaces to help spur your creativity.

Lea Alcantara: [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: In that case, I talk about things like daydreaming and spacing out and laying down to kind of just close your eyes for a few minutes or doing things like repetitive tasks like laundry or dishes or sweeping and stuff like that.  Actually, all of those activities actually help your brain go into Alpha brain wave mode which is one of the places where you are most creative when you’re kind of conscious.  You’re still awake and aware, but you’re kind of zoning out a little bit. 

Lea Alcantara: [Agrees]

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: Actually going into Alpha brain wave mode really does help stimulate your creativity and does help your brain put together ideas in ways that you may not have done before.  So I can actually see taking a break and like going and washing the dishes, even though it seems like you’re procrastinating, it could be just something that you need for your brain to actually work through the problem.

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: Because basically you’re procrastinating like I was saying because you don’t really have a clear sense of how this thing is supposed to work, like you have this kind of concrete task that needs to happen, but your brain is kind of thinking about it in a very abstract way and so you don’t really know what the next thing it is that you need to do, like you don’t have it broken down into, “Okay, that means I need to take this step and this step and this step,” and that’s one of the reasons why you’re kind of putting it off because it doesn’t have a form in your head. 

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: Sometimes when you take time to do something like wash the dishes or walk the dog or something like that, your brain can actually think through the process and come up with ideas on how to take those next steps and that actually can be valuable as well.  I’m not telling people to now do their work.

Lea Alcantara: Yeah.

Emily Lewis:  [Laughs]

Denise Jacobs: That’s not what I’m saying.

Emily Lewis:  Yeah.

Denise Jacobs: But I am saying that there is something to those kind of “downtimes” or those down moments.

Lea Alcantara: So if there’s something as productive procrastination, how can folks with perfectionist tendencies make the most out of them without being crippled by them?

Denise Jacobs: I actually think structured procrastination is great for people who are perfectionists. 

Lea Alcantara: Structured, okay.

Timestamp:  00:39:43

Denise Jacobs: Yeah.  Like productive procrastination, structured productive procrastination, I think that is actually really good for people who are perfectionist because when you’re a perfectionist, you do want to get things done and you want things to be done well.  I found that when I personally do productive procrastination or structured productive procrastination, when I engage in stuff like that, I end up getting momentum like starting to have more of a win and that kind of sense of that I’m actually moving forward on something, then I take that momentum and I can transfer it to something else. Do you know what I mean?

Lea Alcantara: Right.

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: So it’s kind of like the excitement or like, “Oh okay, this is actually finally coming together and blah, blah, blah.”  Then that sometime helps me see how this other thing that wasn’t entirely clear, which is why I was putting it off, how that can come together as well, and so then that gives me kind of fuel to go back to that other tasks or back to that other kind of series of tasks and start to attack it and start to really make headway on it because of the progress that I made on the other one. 

Emily Lewis:  Yeah, I can definitely relate to that, especially if I’ve been coding for a long time and maybe I’ve hit a snag and tried a couple of things and it hasn’t really worked out, and then, “Oh, it’s dinnertime.  I’ve just got to go and focus on that right now.”

Denise Jacobs: [Agrees]

Emily Lewis:  And then as I’m making dinner, all of a sudden I’m like, “Oh.  Oh!  I haven’t tried it.” 

Denise Jacobs: Right.

Emily Lewis:  And then after dinner I’m ready to get back to work and I’m kind of excited because I’m like I totally know what I needed to do now, but staring and physically trying things ten different ways wasn’t getting it done. 

Denise Jacobs: Yeah.  [Laughs]

Emily Lewis:  It was taking a step back and doing something kind of mindless. 

Denise Jacobs: Exactly, exactly, and sometimes for me like the difference between coding and designing something…

Lea Alcantara: Right.

Denise Jacobs: Or like just doing something where I stimulated actually a different part of my brain.

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: We know the visual part of your brain is different than the kind of analytical part of your brain and just making that another part of your brain fire gave the first part of your brain a break and then allowed it to kind of relax and then allowed the ideas to happen.  So I definitely think that there is something about switching gears, switching tracks, doing different things and exercising different parts of your brain because our brains are actually not designed to focus and to work as much as we make them to. 

They’ve done studies and they showed prehistoric humans and how they spent their time, and they did not spend all their time on a computer thinking for 10 or 12 hours a day, like they didn’t.  They just didn’t.  They spent a little bit of focused time hunting and gathering and things like that, and then they spent a lot of time like socializing and hanging out, and I would have to say that our brains are probably still wired that way and we’re trying to make them do stuff that it just doesn’t do very well, which is why I think those downtimes, those down moments are actually really important for us because they actually enable to function better cognitively. 

Lea Alcantara: That actually reminds me of something that happened yesterday.  I was trying to troubleshoot something and then I had a meeting with Emily right afterwards.  That was completely unrelated. 

Denise Jacobs: [Agrees]

Lea Alcantara: And we were just chatting randomly at the beginning of that, and then while we were chatting, I’m like, “Let me try this one thing that I was working on just before we go on the call.”  Like it just came to me.

Denise Jacobs: [Agrees]

Lea Alcantara: And it’s like, “Oh, this works.”  [Laughs]

Emily Lewis:  [Laughs]

Lea Alcantara: And previously before the call, I was like spending 20 minutes like, “Okay, is this going to work?  Is this other…”  And then I’m like, “I don’t know what the next thing to do whatever.  I have a meeting.  I need to stop thinking about it because I have a meeting.”

Denise Jacobs: Right.

Lea Alcantara: And then during that chat… [Laughs]

Emily Lewis:  [Laughs]

Lea Alcantara: The other idea came to me. 

Denise Jacobs: Right, and you see that’s the thing.  I mean, one thing that I think I find interesting, and there’s a neurologist whose name is Marcus Raichle, I have a quote from him in that Whitespace Creativity presentation which is “When our brains are supposedly doing nothing, they’re really doing a tremendous amount.”  So to actually fit that into your schedule like, “Okay, I’m going to have some time where I’m actually on purpose doing something mindless just to give my brain the space to kind of breathe, just for it to kind of respire a little bit and for it to get some space between the ideas so that they can connect in different ways.”  Now, a lot of times, I know you both have experienced it when you’re working on something and you’re too close to it, you can’t see the solution.

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: But I feel like that’s totally different from procrastination, right?

Lea Alcantara: [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: Like that is a different thing when you are deliberately saying, “I’m taking time away from this so that I can come up with a solution.”  That’s different than procrastination.

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: And I think it’s really important to know that there is a difference between the two. 

Emily Lewis:  So that taking more mind space is one recommendation.  Do you have any other exercises or tools or even apps that you could recommend that might help people be more productive, be more creative without feeding into perfectionist tendencies?

Denise Jacobs: Oh God, an app.  Now, an app, I actually don’t have any apps because I’m a little app averse at this point because there are so much and it’s another one of those like, “Is that going to muddy the waters or is that going to clear the waters?”

Lea Alcantara: Right.

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: But in terms of practices, I mean, there are some really stuff about making sure that the task is really meaningful, so making sure you put a task like, so if you’re procrastinating on something, if you put the task into a context where you actually understand why you’re doing it and what the real meaning and value of it is, then you’re probably more inclined to want to deal with it and to address it than if it’s kind of like I said, when it’s unclear and kind of nebulous in your head.  So that’s really important.  And then another thing for a perfectionist, you perfectionists out there, is to realize that there is a difference between perfectionism and excellence, right?

Emily Lewis:  Oh, right.

Denise Jacobs: Amen. 

Emily Lewis:  [Laughs]

Denise Jacobs: You’re like, “Oh shoot, rewind.” 

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Emily Lewis:  [Laughs]

Denise Jacobs: So yes, I’ll say it again, there is a difference between excellence and perfection.  Excellence comes from when you’re really enjoying and learning from an experience, developing confidence and mastery in it, right?

Lea Alcantara: [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: Perfection usually does not come with this enjoyment principle, but usually you have negative feelings about any mistakes that you made and no matter how good your performance or how well you did something, you still will sit there and kind of analyze and criticize anything that you think is a misstep or a mishap.  So if you focus more on this learning and achieving mastery and just doing it well to the extent that you’re just like, “Oh.”  And especially I think it happens when you learn something new.  When you allow yourself to just really surrender to the process of learning something new, and like, “I didn’t know about this before, and now I can do this thing.  Isn’t that great that I can do this thing that I couldn’t do before?”

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: Then you can kind of get away from “did I do it perfectly” kind of place. 

Emily Lewis:  Right, right, right.  I like that.

Denise Jacobs: Yeah.  And then there is a practice called Satisficing, and that is kind of that 80%.  When you really just go for something being sufficient and satisfactory, like just having it be sufficient results.  Is the proposal done?  Great.  Do we have all the information that it needs to have in there?  Fantastic.  Does it look perfect and amazing?  No, but it’s a proposal and they’re going to read it like ten minutes and then they’re not going to look at it anymore, so kill yourself over it.

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: And there’s a lot of stuff too where you can kind of realize like, “Look, the thing that I’m doing, if I just get it started, then I can iterate on it.”

Lea Alcantara: [Agrees]

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: And that’s really important.  Like it doesn’t have to be the most amazing, perfect thing at the beginning, like get something there in place and then build upon it, you know?

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: Make it a decent foundation and then build upon the foundation, and then in terms of the procrastination part of it, one of my favorite, favorite recommendations is to get ready to do something.  So instead of saying, “Okay, I’m going to do this thing,” then just get everything ready to do it, you know?

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: Get yourself, “Okay, I’ve got all of the assets here, and I’ve got the document open.  Just start doing the coding and I got this and I got that.”  Then you’re like, “Well, you know what, well, I think I’ll just put like the beginning part of the document in there and then I’ll get to it later.”  What ends up happening is when you start putting everything into place to prepare for it, then you end up just sliding into actually doing it and so it’s a great way to trick yourself.  [Laughs]

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Emily Lewis:  Actually, when you were describing that, that’s kind of how I start every day because I think I would love to never work ever again in my life.  [Laughs]

Denise Jacobs: [Laughs]

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Emily Lewis:  So I’m never, “Oh yeah, I get to work for ten hours today.” 

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Emily Lewis:  But I have a ritual where I start all my apps.  I get the documents up for what I’m going to be doing.  I get my playlist ready.  I get my cup of coffee, and like that process just sort of leads me into it by getting my environment right.

Denise Jacobs: Yeah, so getting the environment right works really well, and then another thing that you can do is if you’re kind of, “This task is going to take so long.”  If you’re putting it off because you’re like it’s going to take so long, then just say, “Okay, I’m going to do something for ten minutes.” 

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: It’s like, “I think this is going to take me an hour, but I’m just going to work on it for five or ten minutes.”  You can set a timer and then make it happen, and then when the timer goes off, stop, but what ends up happening a lot of times is once you get started, as you know there’s a song by Rufus & Chaka Khan back from the 70’s where she’s like, “Once you get started, oh it’s hard to stop.”

Timestamp:  00:50:12

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Emily Lewis:  [Laughs]

Denise Jacobs: It’s one of those things.  It’s like once you get started, it’s hard to stop, so you set the five minutes and then the timer goes off, and you’re like, “Oh, I’m already doing it.  I’ll just finish it.”

Emily Lewis:  Right, right.

Denise Jacobs: Or I’ll do it for another ten minutes or whatever it is, and so a lot of times things that I envisioned taking like hours take 20 minutes or half an hour.

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Denise Jacobs: And then I’m like, “Oh, right.”  So just that getting started, getting everything in place, setting the timer for five minutes, that sort of thing, it usually will get over the hump. 

Emily Lewis:  Those are great. 

Denise Jacobs: [Agrees]

Lea Alcantara: Thanks Denise.  I mean, this has been an excellent conversation. 

Emily Lewis:  [Agrees]

Lea Alcantara: I think it will resonate with a lot of our viewers.  I know it resonated with me. 

Emily Lewis:  I’m actually so glad we are doing this right before I’m getting ready to go speak at a conference.

Denise Jacobs: [Laughs]

Emily Lewis:  And I’ve been telling Lea how nervous I am about performing, and it’s because of that perfectionism in me, wanting to be perfect, wanting to not have anyone come up to me and be like, “Well, that’s wrong.”

Lea Alcantara: [Agrees]

Emily Lewis:  So this was exactly what I needed.

Denise Jacobs: Yehey!  Good.

Lea Alcantara: Yehey!

Emily Lewis:  [Laughs]

Denise Jacobs: And the other thing too is that I think, especially when you’re talking at conferences, just as a little talk in conferences thing, one thing that I like to think is everybody in the audience actually wants you to succeed.  Nobody there is really, you know.  If there’s The Grinch That Stole Christmas in the audience like they’re usually just one, but usually everybody is really looking forward to what you have to say, they’re excited about it, and just about anything that you say is going to be awesome for them like, “Oh, I never thought of that.  Oh, I didn’t know this.” 

Because that’s the other thing too, like being thought leaders and considered experts and stuff like that, we have no perspective on what it is that we know because all of our friends are experts in stuff, so we’re comparing ourselves, which is a no-no, a boo-boo, but we’re comparing ourselves to all these other rock star awesome people.  Like when your friends with Ethan Marcotte, it’s hard not to be like, “Well, I didn’t come up with responsive design if that’s what you mean.” 

But the thing is that we’re still so far ahead with the game compared to so many other people in the industry.  I mean, there are still people who are probably trying to like design the tables.  So I think anything you have to say is going to be pretty awesome sauce for people, and just remember that, and if somebody wants to be all grinchy and crazy and try to get all up in your business, then that’s their thing, and then they can go and they could take it someplace else.

Lea Alcantara: Agreed.  Agreed.  But before we finish up, we’ve got our rapid fire ten questions so our listeners can get to know you a bit better.  Are you ready, Denise?

Denise Jacobs: Bring it on, girl. 

Lea Alcantara: All right. 

Emily Lewis:  [Laughs]

Lea Alcantara: So Question 1, Mac OS or Windows?

Denise Jacobs: Mac.

Emily Lewis:  What is your favorite mobile app?

Denise Jacobs: Dictionary.com.

Lea Alcantara: Interesting.  What is your least favorite thing about social media?

Denise Jacobs: Oh my God, like the drama.

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Emily Lewis:  [Laughs]

Denise Jacobs: All of the drama.

Emily Lewis:  What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?

Denise Jacobs: Actress.

Lea Alcantara: What profession would you not like to do?

Denise Jacobs: Project management.

Emily Lewis:  Who is the web professional you admire the most?

Denise Jacobs: God, I have to choose one?

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Emily Lewis:  [Laughs]

Denise Jacobs: That’s not fair.  Like all of them.

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Emily Lewis:  [Laughs]

Lea Alcantara: The right answer is Lea and Emily.  [Laughs]

Emily Lewis:  [Laughs]

Denise Jacobs: Oh right.  Lea and Emily of Bright Umbrella are my favorite web professionals, if I had to choose.

Lea Alcantara: Well, I’m not sure if you code anymore, but what music do you like to work to?

Denise Jacobs: Preferably jazz, but I can actually only listen to music if I’m doing design work.

Lea Alcantara: Oh.

Denise Jacobs: And if I’m listening to music when I’m working, it can only be instrumental.  I can’t listen to music with lyrics.

Emily Lewis:  What is your secret talent?

Denise Jacobs: Oh, well, if I have had enough sleep, then I can adjust to a new time zone almost immediately. 

Emily Lewis:  [Laughs]

Lea Alcantara: Wow!  That is a talent. 

Denise Jacobs: It is my special.  It is my super power.

Lea Alcantara: So what’s the most recent book you’ve read?

Denise Jacobs: Oh, I just got done reading a trashy romance. 

Lea Alcantara: Nice.

Emily Lewis:  Nice.

Denise Jacobs: That has been turned into a TV show on the Starz Network, which I didn’t even know.  I was reading the book and I was in New York and I saw a thing on the side of a bus and it said, “The Outlander.”  And I was like, “Really?”

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Emily Lewis:  Well, I’ve seen the previews for that.  It’s like a period piece in like Scotland or something, right?

Denise Jacobs: Yeah, except that it involves time travel.

Lea Alcantara: Oh my gosh.

Denise Jacobs: The woman was originally from like the 1940’s, and she goes back in time like 200 years.

Emily Lewis:  Cool.  [Laughs]

Denise Jacobs: Yeah, yeah, and so I read that book and now I’m on the second one in the series.

Emily Lewis:  All right, last question, Star Wars or Star Trek?

Denise Jacobs: Oh, Star Wars.

Lea Alcantara: All right, that’s all the time we have for today.  Thanks for joining us. 

Denise Jacobs: Thank you, you guys.  This was really a lot of fun.  Wait a minute, can I take back that, and say Star Trek

Lea Alcantara: Oh, backtracking. 

Emily Lewis:  [Laughs]

Denise Jacobs: You know what, or yes, the answer is yes. 

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Emily Lewis:  [Laughs]

Denise Jacobs: [Laughs]

Emily Lewis:  Fair enough.  In case our listeners want to follow up with you, where can they find you online?

Denise Jacobs: Okay, so my personal website is denisejacobs.com.  My company website, my creativity and innovation collective is The Creative Dose, and that’s at thecreativedose.com.  You can follow me on Twitter.  I’m @denisejacobs on Twitter and The Creative Dose is @thecreativedose on Twitter, and please come and check it out because I have some extra cool projects.  They’re on the side that you should find out about which you can find out if you follow me and come to my websites.

Emily Lewis:  [Laughs]  It was so great to talk to you, Denise.  Thanks again for joining us. 

Denise Jacobs:  Thank you.  It was so awesome. 

[Music starts]

Lea Alcantara: We’d now like to thank our sponsors for this podcast, Visual Chefs and Pixel & Tonic.

Emily Lewis:  And thanks to our partners, Arcustech, Devot:ee and EE Insider.

Lea Alcantara: We also want to thank our listeners for tuning in!  If you want to know more about CTRL+CLICK, make sure you follow us on Twitter @ctrlclickcast or visit our website, ctrlclickcast.com, and if you liked this episode, please give us a review on Stitcher or iTunes or both.

Emily Lewis: Don’t forget to tune in to our next episode when we’re talking to Shawn Maida of Visual Chefs.  Be sure to check out our schedule on our site, ctrlclickcast.com/schedule for more upcoming topics.

Lea Alcantara:  This is Lea Alcantara …

Emily Lewis: And Emily Lewis …

Lea Alcantara:  Signing off for CTRL+CLICK CAST.  See you next time!

Emily Lewis: Cheers! 

[Music stops]