What should I do when I feel unmotivated as a designer? UX Question #90

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Adriel from Chula Vista, California, asks: What should I do when I feel unmotivated as a designer?

I love that question. Thanks for asking, Adriel. This is UX Question number 90 and I am Ben Judy.

What should I do when I feel unmotivated as a designer? Well, if you are a designer long enough—say, about two or three weeks, probably—this is a situation you will encounter. You’re just not feeling it.

Start by trying to identify why you’re feeling unmotivated. Maybe you’re feeling unchallenged by your current project work. Maybe it’s environmental—you feel uninspired by your surroundings. Maybe you’re working for a boss or a client who rubs you the wrong way or makes you feel unappreciated. Maybe you’re just mentally or physically fatigued.

Understanding the reason for your lack of motivation can help you quickly find a solution.

I’m going to give you a few tips that have helped me, and depending on your situation, maybe they’ll help you.

You can work on something else that inspires you. Step aside from your current project for an hour or a day, whatever you can afford, and do something that feels artistically challenging or technically challenging in a good way. That can keep your design motor running, so to speak, while also giving you a mental break from your current project.

You can find a new environment to work in. Go somewhere you won’t be distracted, but where you’ll also feel energized to problem solve. For me, sometimes it’s as simple as going to a different room, or working outside for a couple hours when the weather is nice.

You can try a new method or produce a different kind of artifact. Let’s say you’re synthesizing user research findings and producing user personas, and it’s the hundredth time you’ve created such personas and it just feels ‘blah.’ Instead, try creating empathy diagrams. Or, instead of the same old, low-fi wireframes, try making page description diagrams. Experiment with producing similar but slightly different kinds of deliverables to look at things differently.

One more tip: you can go on a UX safari. Find a design-dense environment—a city downtown area, or a museum, or a nuclear power plant control room if you have access to one. Okay, that’s a stretch. But go somewhere you can look at the outcomes produced by other designers and take note of what inspires you. Engaging your brain in design critique in a different kind of product than the one you’re working on can sometimes give you a creative jolt of energy and motivate you to get back to work with new ideas and a fresh perspective.

Keep asking your questions about UX. Next time, I’ll answer the question: What are some good UX psychology principles?

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