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One Thing Critical to Success as a Designer

Life zoomed in

We spend so much of our lives looking at the granular, fine print of things that we tend to miss the bigger picture.

We’ll spend a week designing the user interface of a single screen, sweating over the icon choice, the typography, the border radius of a button.

Yet we fail to ever question why we are designing that screen in the first place.

 Life zoomed out

Modern life is so busy — so full of urgent things to complete & to-do lists left undone — that we rarely stop to come up for air.

And that is far more damaging to our personal & professional success than we may feel comfortable admitting.

Because it’s uncomfortable — and down-right depressing — to think that we are putting our heart & soul into something that serves no purpose. To even consider the prospect takes the winds out of our sails & leaves us mindlessly scanning social media to stave off that nagging sense of purposelessness.

It is uncomfortable, yet it is necessary.

It is necessary because, to live a fulfilling life — where you feel you are contributing to improving the world in some way — you must ensure that whatever contribution you make has impact, however small.

Dedicating time to a product that never launches, to a screen design that will never get built, to a user flow the user doesn’t even want or need — all of these things have no impact.

One wasted day or week here and there may seem small. And it is.

But what we fail to recognise is the following important fact:

That the way you spend your days determines how you spend your weeks. The way you spend your weeks determines how you spend your months. Your years. Your life.

The repetition of meaningless creations is therefore something to avoid at all costs. Because such a repetition will mean a continuous act of creating no value for your users, of having no impact on the world.

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Sometimes such outcomes are unavoidable. Your boss, for example, may dictate what you are building & reject any critical feedback from you.

Sometimes such outcomes are even desirable. You may launch a product, learn from your failings, iterate, hone your value proposition.

Most of the time, however, such outcomes are avoidable. And you don’t want to make a habit of it.

 How, then, to improve your ability to think more critically about the bigger picture?

Journalling.

A simple act of writing your thoughts out each morning.

Of clearly stating your single priority for the day.

Of forcing yourself to think about what impact you want to have that day & why.

Of confronting those nagging thoughts in your head into tangible problems on the page.

If you’ve tried before, feel like you don’t quite know how, or don’t have a clue how to start, then please get in touch with me through the comments section.

We are working on a journaling product to help you make better use of your time each day. I will answer every single question that comes my way.

If you think journaling is not for you, just remember: how you spend your days is how you spend your life.

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