Going Solo: Design and Productivity Techniques for the Team of One

Crispin Reedy
Crispin ReedyVoice User Experience Designer at Versay
Going Solo: Design and
Productivity Techniques
for the Team of One
@crispinTX #BigD15 #teamOfOne
Crispin Reedy
Crispin Reedy!
Voice Interaction Designer
President of @avixd
15 years working from home
Usually the only designer
3 different employers
~30 different clients
My coworkers
Who’s Here?
• Just started working from home?
• Been doing it for a while?
• Thinking about it?
• Don’t WFH but the only designer on the
What’s it like?
The Idea
The Oatmeal
The Reality
20 Reasons Why Intelligent People Fail (Robert Steinberg)
Lack of Motivation
Lack of !
Impulse Control
Inability to Delay
Mental FocusCommunication!
Designing Alone
Mental Focus
Mental Focus
• Sanity!
• Metacognition
• Pomodoros
• Routines, Checklists, Systems
• Fighting Procrastination
Get out of the house!!
Volunteer! Join a professional organization, team or
Meetup! Take classes!
At the office: the hive mind
At home: sailing solo
How do you stay sane !
when you’re the only one in the room?
Metacognition: Become Your Own Lifehacker
Flickr: Vox
You are a mad
and the
experiment is!
Keep tabs on your:!
• Mood
• Energy Level
• Concentration Level
• Type of Work
• Time of Day
• Productivity
Use tools like:!
• Journal
• Habit / Mood Tracking Apps
Make observations and apply them
My Own Observations
Morning: High
Afternoon: The Cliff
“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing
worse will happen to you all day.” - Mark Twain
Save email and busywork for low-energy times
When you’re blocked by the need to be social, what’s
the plan?
Change your energy: location, movement
Keep a list of what doesn’t work
Start something new for tomorrow at the end of the day.
Decide on the task
Set the timer (25 minutes or more)
Do the work
Review & take a short break
• Work on the task uninterruptedly; no answering
phone / email
• 25 minutes is “standard,” but what works for
• After 4 pomodoros, take a “real” break
• Get up, walk around, get outside
• If you go longer, take a break after 2-3
Routines, Checklists, Systems
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence,
then, is not an act, but a habit.”
How the starfish opens the clam
Jon Bloom
The virtuous cycle
Types of Lists
• Todo lists
• Procedure lists
• Daily life checklists
Todo Lists
• Schedule design
• Make travel plans!
• UXPA Submission!
• Try Lucid Chart!
• Write whitepaper
• Grocery!
• Bookstore!
• Lowe’s!
• Call roofer
• Trello!
• Evernote!
• Nirvana!
• Remember the Milk!
• Etc.
Procedure Checklists
Going Solo: Design and Productivity Techniques for the Team of One
Having things written down is like seeing
your thoughts outside your head.
Warner Brothers
Daily Life Checklists: Build Habits
Why Habits? Decision Fatigue
Fighting Procrastination: Use a Site Blocker
Communication and
Factors of Remote Design
UIE Seminar by @JimKalbach!
Designing Remotely: !
Effective Techniques for Remote Design
• Organizations differ
• All remote vs. only a few people remote, the rest
• The most difficult situation to deal with
• Persistence is key
Collaboration: Digital First
• Communication Tools!
• Phone / Audio!
• Screen sharing!
• Webcams!
• File repositories!
• Chat!
• Email
• Design-Specific Tools!
• Online prototyping!
• Online testing!
• Virtual whiteboard
• Skype 66%
• Hangouts 43%
• GoToMeeting
• WebEx 24%
UIE Seminar by @JimKalbach!
Designing Remotely: !
Effective Techniques for Remote Design
• Slack / Skype 43%
• Google 31%
• What’s App 18%
File Sharing!
• Dropbox / Google
Drive 54%
• Internal 34%
• Evernote 16%
• Box 14%
Macs Especially: Be Prepared!
Practice safe conference calling
Get a headset
Don’t trust mute
Close your chat (and other windows)
Tend your knitting
The person who is most prepared for the
meeting wins the meeting
• Brainstorming!
• Discussion!
• Design Review
• Goal!
• Agenda!
• Deck / Materials!
• Capture Decisions
Sometimes you just need to get together
Online Prototyping!
• Invision 48%
• Don’t use 44%
• Marvel 13%
• UXPin 10%
• Proto.IO 9%
• Internal Tool 8%
UIE Seminar by @JimKalbach!
Designing Remotely: !
Effective Techniques for Remote Design
Online Testing!
• Don’t use 59%
• User Zoom 21%
• Other 14%
• Optimal Workshop 11%
• Internal Tool 9%
Optimal Workshop
Agree on your suite of digital tools
Maintain your virtual workspace
Train new team members and clients
Designing Alone
Going Solo: Design and Productivity Techniques for the Team of One
Create an office that supports different kinds of work
Bodystorming for One
flickr: xian
Go out and get input in other places
Recognize when you’re lost in the weeds
• Catalog the
medicine cabinet!
• Cut the work up
and remix it!
• Give yourself
permission to play
Recover and keep going
Representing Design
Justify your existence
Constraints largely come in the form of other
• Invite people in!
• Make things together!
• Teach them about design!
• Listen to their needs!
• Get OK with being
• Don’t sweat the small stuff!
• Choose your hills
Persistence is key
you have a poem to offer!
it is made of action
“Notes on the Assemblage”!
Juan Felipe Herrera
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Going Solo: Design and Productivity Techniques for the Team of One