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By Brian Biddle

Design Control Freak

October 19, 2018

The perils of going alone and doing everything yourself. Last night my wife read the introduction to a book that addressed overfunctioning, which is: doing for others what they can and should do for themselves.

This term resonated with me as I look back over the past 13 or so years of my time at Lexblog. My first thought was gratitude toward those who have mentored me and taken the time to critique and provide feedback on my work and honestly speak to areas in my life that were lacking and in need of improvement. I think of the hundreds (Probably thousands) of hours Greg Story (My first Design Director) spent reviewing my work and providing guidance on what needed fixing, adjusted, or scrapped altogether. He was able to do this with the greatest care and attention. I learned the term pixel perfect from Greg, along with many other valuable lessons.

As a seasoned designer, it can be easy to sink into the role of one who “overfunctiones.” It’s easier (in the short term) to take the assignment or make the edits yourself. It’s harder to sit down and walk through someone’s work and provide solid feedback and at the same time encourage and teach.

How to tell if you are an overfunctioner?

I found this checklist helpful.

  • I generally know the right way to do things
  • I move in quickly to advise or fix things lest they fall apart
  • I have difficulty allowing others to struggle with their own problems
  • In the long run, it’s simply easier to do things myself.
  • I don’t trust others to do as good a job as I can
  • I often do what is asked of me even if I’m overloaded
  • I don’t like to rock the boat, so I cover for others shortcomings
  • Other people describe me as “stable” and always “having it together.”
  • I don’t like asking for help because I don’t want to be a burden
  • I like to be needed

Now, I don’t find all of these things to be negatives on their own, but if clumped together with other points from the list you may be an “overfunctioner.”

The danger of this approach to work or life is you will live in constant frustration, you will never grow, and you will eventually burn out. The best way to learn is to teach and share with others. Are you an overfunctioner? Make the change today; it starts by investing in others.

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