23 Nov, 2021

How procrastination made me a better designer

A lot of people argue what is more important, good UX or good UI, and I always tend to say - both. If one fails you can't make an impact on your users. However often times users don't think of what the UX is and value a product based on its looks.

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Denislav Jeliazkov
Founder @uilearn

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The subtle art of doing too much and making progress.

I consider myself an unofficial world champion at this as it took me only 4 years to write this article. Try and beat this?

I get this question quite a lot over my Instagram, how do you manage your time?

Truth be told I just delay everything until the very last end possible, but still manage to do 5-6 projects at the same time and have a full-time job. You might think, how will this guy who clearly has no idea about his life will help me become a better designer.

Let me tell you a bit of a backstory.

I was a very energetic kid with literally zero patience and my attention span was as long as it took you to drop your phone from the hand to the ground. At the same time, I am a super curious person always trying to learn new things, and this is one of the reasons why I have bought 20 courses in the last year and have watched just one of them.

I expect quick results with everything I do, and if I don’t have them immediately usually I lose interest. My thinking of this comes back to the age we live in as we get everything at our fingertips.

Over my design career, I tried battling with this a lot, making to-do lists, organizing my time in apps, watching endless youtube videos on how to be more productive until one day I had enough and embraced who I am. I managed to turnaround my procrastination into my greatest learning asset and pushed myself even further.

“I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.” ― Margaret Mitchell

Since I was ready to embrace new challenges but my attention span was battling with me I had to find out a system that works. As I soon realized I had to take a step back and actually learn how to learn. When you have some experience in your career you start to think that everything new that comes to you will be easy and you will manage to cope with it and eventually grind through it, oh boy I was so wrong.

Each time I started a new project or worked with a new team I was super pumped at the first day or two and then lost interest in continuing working at further steps of the product. I was always leaving the tasks for the very last minute, took way too much work on my shoulders and learned how to work through stress.

Acknowledging that I am a natural procrastinator actually helped me release some stress from my shoulders about why I was doing the things I was doing the way I was doing them. After this, I realized that I was two times faster than other designers I worked with at the time and I was taking much better decisions when putting under stress for fast decision making. This meant that when it was GO time I wasn’t doubting and starting to think a lot about how to do stuff and why to do them, but I was always ready to execute on a given idea, iteration, or task that we had to deliver.

I don’t watch Netflix and wait to get inspired to start designing. I tend to think there are two ways of procrastinating:

Concentrated in something to understand it.

A relaxed stated mode of not really thinking.

Focused mode is when I am in a rush trying to find a solution for something, keeping the pressure on my shoulders as I need to move fast. This helps me manage a lot of work for one day.

A relaxed state is often when my productivity drains trough the sink, often time this is admin work, so answering on emails, taking long calls.

This all sounds great, but it’s easier said than done. You might be put under a lot of tension from stakeholders for fear of missing deadlines, but if you procrastinate on one projects you should always be sure that you are working on another one so you are ticking the boxes there. What I try to do is if I can’t solve one issue on a certain project I switch to another problem and often times when I find a solution for the next problem I am already in the zone and my mind is ready to tackle bigger issues, so resolutions find themself.

Procrastination isn’t a bad thing, it gets a lot of bad stigmas as people don’t even try to make something happen in their day, and when they wake up sit in front of their TV waiting for the magic to happen. Try to keep yourself busy and you will never be bored to procrastinate doing something you don’t love.

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