Design is for the birds

by Marty Kelly  |  November 15, 2017

Some days I have a clear vision of what I want to achieve at work, I sit down at my desk and I don’t stop working until the job is done. Those productive days feel amazing, and there’s nothing quite as satisfying as crossing something off my task list. Here at Moor Studio we call this state of focus being a woodpecker.

Woodpecker energy is about drive and determination. It's identifying a goal and staying focused until you achieve it. It’s committing to a task and hammering away.

Other days I sit down to work and the next thing I know, hours have gone by with very little to show for it. Emails are coming in, clients are calling, friends are texting, and I'm jumping from project to project without actually crossing anything off my list. We call this mode of darting around from one thing to the next being a hummingbird.


Hummingbird energy is fast and fleeting. It’s about short bursts of attention, dipping in and out, getting what you need and moving on.


Generally speaking I’m a woodpecker by nature, and I would beat myself up for having hummingbird days. When I looked at my task list without a single item crossed off, the day felt like a waste. But it’s nearly impossible to maintain focus all the time, and inevitably things come up that distract us from our agenda. In an effort to be a little more kind to myself, I started to think about how brilliant each bird is at its job. Woodpeckers may be the ones to see a task through to completion, but hummingbirds bring new ideas and fresh perspectives to a project.

When it’s time to do some rapid fire brainstorming, you’ve got to be the hummingbird. Embrace that energy, be quick and agile, and don’t get hung up on any one idea. If you need to reply to a bunch of emails, make some calls and check social media, go ahead and be the hummingbird. Social media creates a hummingbird mentality, so if you go there just remember to make it quick and move along.

However, if you have a project that requires prolonged focus and a deadline is approaching, it’s time to be the woodpecker. Step away from the social media, close your email, silence your phone and buckle down. The woodpecker mentality is all about persistence and tackling big goals. Stay put, concentrate, and hammer away.

Both birds are perfectly designed for their job. The key is to identify the energy you need to bring to your day and own the mode that you’re in.

Just don’t be a chicken.

Marty Kelly is owner and studio manager of Moor Studio. She spends most of her time living, working and playing on Nantucket Island. Marty is mom to two awesome boys and two freeloading cats, and can be reached at



Moor Studio | 2 Union Street

Nantucket, MA 02554