In studies of people isolated in submarines, space stations or polar bunkers in Antarctica, researchers have found there appears to be a point where the frustration of being cooped up inside suddenly gets harder to bear.
You may remember the first phase which started with panic, then buying and confusion. Then we rolled quickly into the second phase, a kind of “honeymoon period”, when it felt fun and different to stay at home.
But now depending on what day you’re on, and how you’ve been navigating all of this, many are entering the third phase. In psychological studies of extreme confinement and isolation, this phase is known as the ‘third-quarter phenomenon’. The phenomenon was first described in the early 1980s and came from a body of research around how long humans could survive in space.
We’ve seen so many predictions about how long this is going to go on and to just wait and see, but the truth is, everything is changing day by day and variations on our COVID restrictions could stretch the ‘third-quarter period’ over many months. Or not. We just don’t know.
However, when it comes to your business, watching and waiting is kind of like watching that proverbial pot.
In groups and in posts online, it’s interesting to me how many designers are closing down and waiting for this to be over, waiting for things to go back to normal, waiting for clients to want to start projects again, waiting to invest in themselves and their businesses instead of doing what great designers do: lead.
The rest—and all of my clients thankfully—are in the thick of it; creating a new normal and learning to adapt and do business for the ways that things are to come. They’re also paying close attention to their new ideas and adapting in new and exciting ways. It’s not all bunny rabbits and roses but their investment in themselves, and in moving the industry forward, is paying off.