Day in the Life of an RGD: Patryk Adamczyk

RGD highlights the experiences of Patryk Adamczyk RGD, Director of Design at Borrowell


The Basics:

Name: Patryk Adamczyk RGD

Company Name: Borrowell

Job Title: Director of Design

What’s the first thing you do when you get to work?
Grab a coffee. My days start a little later, 9:30 am as I drop off my kids at school before work. Most of our strategy or team meetings start at 10 am daily. So usually I organize my thoughts on the commute and address any pressing design issues during those first few minutes before jumping in meeting land.
List the 5 things you spend the most time on during a typical work day.
25% Cross functional meetings - strategy / project updates
20% 1-on-1 meetings with peers and my direct team
20% Scheduled and ad hoc design reviews
25% Planning and defining future design direction
10% Designing
Of all of the tasks you complete during the day, what is your favourite?
My heart belongs to visual design, so anytime I get to complete a new design (even if it’s a small tweak) it’s satisfying. 
What is your least favourite?
Starting any new project, mostly as it involves a ton of coordinating and influencing teams, no matter where you work in tech. Taking the time to ensure alignment around the outcome can be painstaking but it’s absolutely necessary and as designers we often want to jump right in.
Do you have any strategies to keep up your productivity/inspiration over the course of the day?
- Sleep. Most of my work is heavy on thinking, putting on headphones and designing is rare, so the first strategy revolves around getting around 8 hours of sleep the night before, so the mind is fresh and not easily distracted. With a fresh mind, it's not too difficult to fight procrastination and just force myself to Eat That Frog, just do it, in other words.
- Focus on less. I try to setup my days with minimum context switching, days which alternate meetings and work time hour-by-hour often are less effective for productivity.
- Make time more precious. I find scarcity effective, meaning timeboxing 2-3 hours to work on a project in a day leads to more productivity than having 8 uninterrupted hours to work on the same thing. Knowing that you have less time to work on something creates this artificial deadline, and pressure to reach milestones faster.
- Do what’s easy. Sometimes you’re just tired and can’t motivate yourself to start a difficult or complex project. Perhaps there are smaller sub tasks, you can start instead, or even do something less important which can free up sometime in the near future. At senior levels you make your own time, so it's really about being consistently effective and moving forward, even if it's a small step at a time.
Are there any tasks that you like to do at the end of the day?
I tend to save 1:1 meetings with my team till the end of the day. That way I can be productive in the morning on my projects, and then detach, mentor my team through their projects so at the end the day my mind is clear and I am not bringing work challenges home.
How has your job changed over the last year, if at all?
I went from being an individual contributor with 1 direct report supporting all the company’s design, to the function leader with a team of 6. It has been a big shift in depth and breadth of thinking and how I drive impact. When it comes to day-to-day design, rather than directing or executing the work, I am really keeping an eye on the quality, and helping my team make tactical decisions.
What is one thing you wish you knew when you started your career?
Post university, I yearned for stability and didn’t really see much value in travel. I started my career at a large, stable corporation. It was great to polish my design foundation. However, I learnt more at my second job, which allowed me to frequently travel and work with designers from all over the world. Having that global (non-North American) perspective really helped me grow as a human and in turn a designer both in terms of style and empathy. 
In your job, what do you wish you had more time for?
At a startup, exploration and experimentation are luxuries as often you are working with a skeleton crew.
Can you provide an image of a project you are currently working on?
Last year we launched our mobile app for Android and iOS to help people make great decisions about credit.
We are now working on a companion product to help people understand and manage their finances.
We are also in the process of settling into our new office, I had my team design a mural for part of the working space.
I also picked up a few side projects, one being bettering my photography skills by taking new profile photos of all my co-workers.