Top 7 Productivity Tips for UX Designers

November 7th, 2018

Everyone wants to get more work done in less time. This certainly applies to UX designers, who often try to change the world with every project they take on. But there are only 24 hours in a day, and only so much time can be devoted to work without compromising health and wellbeing. There are, however, a number of strategies UX designers can adapt to help enhance their productivity, ensuring that they’re able to get more work done in the limited time available to them.

7 Productivity Tips for UX Designers

1: Limit Your Bandwidth

There’s a temptation to juggle as many projects as possible at any given time. Each new project presents challenges and possibilities, so it can be difficult to say “No” when the latest idea or task presents itself. Having too many things going at once, however, can make it difficult to do any one thing well. It also drags out the timeframe for projects that you should be able to complete relatively quickly. When faced with multiple tasks, it’s generally more efficient to focus on one thing at a time, seeing the project through to completion before moving on to the next task.

2: Work in Blocks

In today’s interconnected world, it’s unusual to have long periods of uninterrupted time to work on anything. Unless you’re a hermit or prone to taking radical measures to avoid distraction, you need to have a plan for being productive despite being constantly peppered with email notifications, phone calls, and social media updates (not to mention talkative, if well-intentioned, coworkers). Working in distraction-free blocks of 25 to 30 minutes, interspersed with quick five-minute breaks to check back in with the bustling world, is a good strategy for managing the constant demands for your attention in the workplace.

3: Avoid Perfectionism

From an early age, we are taught that perfection is something admirable. Many creative-minded people spend countless hours working on a project until every last detail is just right. Unfortunately, the continuously iterative nature of UX design is almost antithetical to the idea of seeking perfection. Working on something over and over until it’s perfect not only takes up valuable time, but much of that work will likely go to waste when the first usability testing comes back with proposed changes. Simply getting an idea to a “good enough” mock-up is often sufficient for good UX design research. The sooner a concept reaches viability, the sooner valuable feedback can begin to inform the design process.

From an early age, we are taught that perfection is something admirable

4: Don’t Start From Scratch

With so many resources publicly available for UX designers, there’s little reason why any project should ever start from scratch. While some projects may require a bit of custom work, the amount to templates, design patterns, and UI libraries make it incredibly easy to create mock-ups, wireframes, and other prototypes quickly. Remember that perfection is not the object of UX design; it’s a way to get up and running as quickly as possible to get started on developing the best solutions possible. Starting each new project from scratch will not only extend your timeline on deliverables, but since any iterative UX design is likely to be changed based on user feedback anyway, much of that time could easily go to waste.

5: Set Deadlines

For many designers, there’s nothing more focusing than a deadline. Without a due date of some kind, it’s easy to allow projects to spiral out of control. What began as an extra feature might grow to become almost as large as the original project itself and spawn several more added elements in the process, extending the development schedule far beyond its original scope. Establishing firm deadlines for when a project needs to be finished allows you to set a realistic development timetable with obtainable benchmarks. Knowing how much time is allotted to complete these tasks can help you focus your efforts on the things that matter, when they matter.

6: Set Aside Growth Time

Everyone talks a good game about professional growth and development, but they don’t often put forth the effort to act on it. Maybe you want to pick up a new certification or read the latest book on design thinking strategies; that’s great, but if your plan is to do it “when you have the time,” the odds are quite likely that you’ll never get around to it. Especially for people with families and busy schedules, competition for free time is fierce, and professional development often loses out to less intensive tasks after a long day at work. By deliberately setting aside time to devote to professional growth, you can make sure you’re giving yourself the opportunity to develop your skills as a UX designer.

7: Focus on Deliverables

Good UX designers never lose sight of the big picture. Every task you undertake should fit into some larger goal or strategy, no matter how trivial it may seem at the time. Focusing on these tangible deliverables can help focus your design work and prune away distracting or unnecessary tasks. For every project, think about how it will contribute to a final product. This will help to keep you on track and productive regardless of current circumstances.

While these productivity strategies may not apply to everyone, they cover enough ground that you’re bound to find some of them helpful in your day-to-day design work. Understanding your main hurdles to productivity and taking steps to address them can go a long way toward improving your overall impact and effectiveness as a UX designer.

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