I’ve been doing an experiment for the last 6 days. I had this great idea that as a lead up to UX Week and a refocus on my business that I would do 30 posts in 30 days. It's been interesting to say the least as new projects popped up and I attempt to write, research and dev for some of the more technical and intricate posts.
And now, I'm choosing to end that experiment mid-stream, as I realized today that my goal is not to produce a lot of work, but rather to produce good quality that communicates and creates opportunities for conversation and connection.
While getting stuff up each day is a powerful lesson in discipline, it did not allow me the time and wandering that feels to me like the best of what I have to offer. I’ll definitely continue posting more regularly though, as all of this writing certainly does shake out the cobwebs.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself it’s that I’m a percolator. I love getting massive data downloads that projects require and then getting a bit of time to digest, work and wander through the information. I read, sketch, have imaginary and in-person conversations with stakeholders, review notes, read requirements docs, talk to engineers, look at competitors, user feedback and marketing materials and then do random searches around the edges of the topic.
And then I put it away. I walk, read, nap, catch up on TV shows, and I work on moving other projects. I make sure to have a pad of paper and the key materials around me at all times. And the ideas and organization start to flow out of me. Sometimes this is a few hours, but on bigger projects this can go in cycles of input, hold, design and iterate for weeks.
When I’m working intensively I often wake up in the morning with solutions. My subconscious continues bubbling and the early morning is often the easiest delivery point in my day. Exercise invariably helps me slip completely out of problem solving and into that lovely abstract space of percolating. I also use music of various flavors to help me move into these states where my mind seems to effortlessly organize and show me options.
I often do freeform writing – longhand and on the computer – to help me keep the stream moving. Worry and fears are the showstoppers for percolation and as Julia Cameron calls it, "running to the page" is the easiest way I’ve found to get myself back into the flow. Cooking, cleaning and painting are all also soothing and helpful ways to keep me in sync.
Of course if it get’s really extreme and I’m too agitated to focus or relax into the work, I’m not adverse to a UX dance party. That works every time.
I also notice that I’m incredibly cranky and touchy during the start time when I don’t know how it all fits together. But I’ll leave that for another post on dealing with the unknown.
Thanks to all who have been reading and chatting with me about these posts. I really appreciate all the support and interaction. That really is what it’s all about for me.