Photo by Iswanto Arif on Unsplash

Working as a developer I was used to work in a certain way: we had some priorities and I had a project manager that was assigning me tasks over a sprint of two weeks. So I would work 1–2 days, or how many were required and finish the task, then I would go to the next and so on. I had always something going on and more importantly, because there is a standard way of testing what I was doing, I could move to the next task.

Working as a designer is slightly different. I have a product manager that handles my tasks and manage the priorities, but there is a totally different process. After I finish what I think is the solution — then I ask for feedback and then I am back to designing. And this can last for a long time. 🫠 Because I can’t test directly the solution it makes me feel unproductive.

Sometimes is a bit challenging to keep up with tasks or even feel productive when we don’t have that many things to do. These are the two most predominant feelings I fight with on a normal working week. Over the past months since I’ve been an official [junior] product designer, I have picked some habits that keep me productive no matter how much stuff I have on my Jira board.

You can do this in two ways: make the list at the end of your day if you kinda know what you have to do or make the list before you start your work.

I always make sure to include checking emails and messages, reading Figma comments. If those emails require me to do something, I make sure to finish those task and after I finish them I can focus on my work without the feeling I have to do something else.

If there is a thing that being a student taught be is that you need to take breaks when your body tells you so. If you are too tired your brain won’t colaborate with you to make the best choices.

I think there is a big difference between being lazy and taking breaks before a burnout. Don’t be embarrassed to take 30 minutes off if you feel that no good ideas are coming to you.

After a big breath of fresh air you feel be back on track and more productive than ever.

Don’t have anything on your Jira board and feel like you’ve accomplished nothing? No problem, I’ve got you covered.

Whenever I am stuck with validations of long periods of getting feedback I try to keep my brain busy so I will use that time in my benefit.

1. I read articles

I think we could always improve our mindset and skills by reading relevant articles for our work. My top picks for qualitative articles are:

2. I listen to articles

In between meetings, if I don’t have anything important to do I watch short videos from Nielsen Norman Group that I very informative and easy to understand, like this one:

They offer a lot of courses that are not only for designers, but also for developers and managers.

I am currently on UI Design Patterns for Successful Software, where I learned a lot about patterns like: dark patterns, navigation and information architecture.

4. I search for interesting webinars 👀

I realised a couple of days that Figma has a ton of webinars filled with tricks for smarter and easier ways of using this tool.

Here is a playlist that I saved to watch over next week:

No matter what you do and how much work you have on your plate today, remember to:

  1. Be organised
  2. Take breaks to give your brain time to breath
  3. Benefit from your free time and use it to make your self better

These 3 important factors improved my working life and I think that you could improve yours too.

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