The 4.5 Hour Announcement Debacle

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They adorn the refrigerator face, the cork board organizer in the kitchen, even the centerpiece of the dining room table. They are the physical rendering of something, in the day of social media that most people have already seen, but still gravitate towards when they arrive in the mail. They are created out of love, and of creativity, and of just the right card stock that makes them worth of such residences. They are, of course, the cherished birth announcements, the messenger of times, dates, sizes, and characteristics of the newest member of the family, sure to melt the hearts of those in your closest circle.

But just because the face adorning the front of the card was created out of love, doesn’t mean this card announcing his arrival was created in a similar manner.

13 groans. 5 ughs. A dozen sighs and hundreds of mouse clicks. This is what the birth announcement creation process sounded like. What started as an exciting endeavor with endless potential quickly became the largest stress of the day (which is big considering there was a 4 week old and a two year old in the house, capable of sending the stress level dial shooting off the page). What photo to use? What color to choose? What layout looks the best? Thousands of options, limitless opportunities…

I watched and listened as my wife navigated the process of designing this Mona Lisa of birth announcements, painstakingly looking over every detail, every font, every background color and what combination of photo and layout was just right.

Fast forward FOUR hours, and her hands went up. “I quit. I’m through.” The white towel was waving, she had gone cross-eyed from all the options, combinations, and decisions necessary to create this perfect card. She took a break, went back for a few more untried combinations, but by this point the will power supplies had been soaked up.

Total time spent in creation process: 4.5 hours. Total number of cards ordered: 0

The sheer efficiency of this process had me cringing from the beginning. With so many options an extreme case of analysis paralysis froze her ability to create a card worth showing, even if the dangling carrot of the “perfect” layout lay ahead and uncovered. It wasn’t that she hadn’t created a great looking card along the way; there were simply too many options. Too many options means useless time searching for better, and less time creating a card that parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles will love for it’s content, not it’s layout. The photo on the front, with the information about the subject’s measurements and arrival time, are the heart of the card, not the border color or font type.

What if the process was different? What if, instead of slaving away scouring the internet and site after site of card companies capable of creating elegant and sturdy products, there was someone there that showed only a handful of high quality, simple, creative and elegant options? Someone that returned that time to you to be spent on cherishing the moments with the face on the card?

It was from the 4.5 hour mark that I vowed to make it easier. On my wife, on my clients, on anyone looking to create cherished products of their memories. Begin offering select options, better options, options who’s quality adds to the experience. Be the one that gives the gift of time (and of decreased computer-created eye strain) and by doing so strengthens the bond with those people.

As someone that is in the business of cherishing memories and moments, I understand that every second of time spent with those you love is something to be held close. Yes, there will be moments that aren’t as memorable as others, but they all contribute to the compilation that becomes the basis for true love. Why waste more time staring into the abyss of the internet when there is someone there deserving of your love and attention?

Make it about the message. Not about the messenger.

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