5 Common Mistakes You Should Avoid When Starting a Project

5 Common Mistakes You Should Avoid When Starting a Project

Avoid making these common mistakes when starting a project and get yourself off to the best start possible.

The time has finally come — the moment when everything is possible. The new Versailles or the new High Line is about to be born. You get to start your new project. Photos, plans, and all the relative data are here; you have already been on site — or maybe not. Nevertheless, you are about to think, conceive, make decisions, design. What could possibly go wrong? Well, almost everything if you do not pay attention to the following traps! There are certain mistakes you should definitely avoid at the beginning of a project, in order for things to run smoothly. So, try to avoid the following:

Staring at ablank sheet won't help. Photo licensed under CC0

Staring at ablank sheet won’t help. Photo licensed under CC0

1. The Void — The “Blank Paper” Fear I cannot think of anything worse than to stare at a blank sheet of paper. In order to act, you need to understand the context, absorb the necessary information, and then start working. Sometimes we get too eager to start, and neglect what we do or don’t know about the specific project. Get everything you need. Know what there is to know about the site, the problems, topography, accessibility, climate, tradition, and existing vegetation. Everything is useful, and anything can pull the trigger for a great new concept. Understand what the client is asking for, the competition terms, or your teacher’s expectations. Investigate the various aspects of the problem. Find references to similar projects, so that you do not imitate — you had better try to innovate. You cannot create something new unless you know what already exists out there. We at could help you with that. Related Articles: 

2. Thinking About Construction Details Before the Time Comes You cannot expect to have all the answers on the first sketch. And no one expects you to. Design is a process; it takes time and effort , until everything is solved. We should not neglect the different phases of the process, even if we feel we need to. We should take each step when the time is right and not flood our head with questions and worries about what could happen next. This does not mean we should spend all the time available on one thing and fail to complete all the stages in time to present the project. Following the timeframe is necessary for both professionals and students in order to achieve their goals.

There's a time and place for details. The beginning of a project is not the time nor the place. Photo credit:

There is a time and place for details. The beginning of a project is not the time nor the place. Photo credit:

3. Procrastinating Irresponsibly I have often heard that procrastination is useful and that it can lead to higher productivity. I cannot help but admit that looking outside the window or browsing the internet before starting something new is familiar to me. However, time flies. Landscape design is demanding and time is usually a luxury. I do not see the point in turning time into a source of stress, just because you cannot manage it correctly. WATCH: Why we procrastinate by Vik Nithy – TEDx (Viewed over 1,000,000 times)

Besides, all the anxiety and uneasiness you are confronted with before starting something new usually vanishes once the actual design process begins. It only takes the first step — or the first sketch. 4. Insisting on a Concept that Simply Does not Work I have heard that the best concept you come up with is usually the first. I would say most of the time that is true. However, there are times you should let go of the work you have already done and start afresh. There are ideas that seem promising and exciting, but simply don’t work out. You need to learn to realize early when enough is enough and be flexible in changing direction and focusing on another concept. I keep thinking that it is a virtue to know when to give up; however, that is hard, and it takes a special kind of awareness to achieve it. 5. Estimating budget I have been asked many times — and I am sure I will have to do it many times more — to make approximate cost estimations at a very early design stage. In my opinion, it is totally wrong and it ruins the design process. Trying to

Don't let a budget get in the way of a great idea. Photo licensed under CC0

Don’t let a budget get in the way of a great idea. Photo licensed under CC0

estimate the budget at the beginning of the designs progress could not lead you further from the actual cost amount. It obliges you to think and eventually take into account things you normally would not. Inspiration usually does not survive the conflict with reality, and in such an early stage, this means creativity is doomed. There are plenty of aspects in our work that are distracting and unpleasant. Keeping them away from the design process for as long as possible will benefit our work. What is There to Do, Then? More or less, everyone knows what to avoid in certain stages of our work. But what is the one thing you should definitely do? I guess the answer is simple: Start. As Charles Baudelaire said, “Inspiration comes from work”. Given his reputation, I really think he knew exactly what it is all about. Recommended Reading: 

Article by Eleni Tsirintani Return to Homepage

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