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Coping With the Stress of a Career in UX - Meredith Noble

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Working as a designer can be incredibly stressful. Our work is constantly subject to intense scrutiny and debate from clients and colleagues. If we're consultants, we have the added pressure of constantly proving our worth to clients. If we're in-house, we may have to get along with and even prove the value of UX to other departments. Even the fast pace and ill-defined nature of the field itself can lead to stress: we can suffer from impostor syndrome and general insecurity about where we fit in our own profession. In this talk we'll take a frank look at common UX stressors and, most importantly, we will discuss ways to address them. You'll leave better prepared to handle a UXer's everyday challenges, and with a myriad of ways to improve your emotional wellbeing.

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Coping With the Stress of a Career in UX - Meredith Noble

  1. 1. Coping With the Stress of a Career in UX Meredith Noble Director of User Experience, Cloudberry Creative @meredi | meredith@meredi.com June 24, 2015 | UXPA Dilbert,byScottAdams,2005
  2. 2. @meredi Hello. 2
  3. 3. @meredi Hello. I’m Meredith. 2
  4. 4. @meredi Hello. I’m Meredith. I’ve been a UX consultant for 10 years. 2
  5. 5. @meredi Hello. I’m Meredith. I’ve been a UX consultant for 10 years. My work sometimes often stresses me out. 2
  6. 6. @meredi 3 Me and Stress
  7. 7. @meredi 3 Me and Stress
  8. 8. @meredi 3 Me and Stress I’m a
  9. 9. @meredi 3 Me and Stress I’m a sensitive,
  10. 10. @meredi 3 Me and Stress I’m a sensitive, conscientious,
  11. 11. @meredi 3 Me and Stress I’m a sensitive, conscientious, people-pleasing,
  12. 12. @meredi 3 Me and Stress I’m a sensitive, conscientious, people-pleasing, perfectionistic
  13. 13. @meredi 3 Me and Stress I’m a sensitive, conscientious, people-pleasing, perfectionistic emotion-squelcher…
  14. 14. @meredi 3 Me and Stress I’m a sensitive, conscientious, people-pleasing, perfectionistic emotion-squelcher… …who chose a role with intense deadlines and external judgment!
  15. 15. @meredi 3 Me and Stress I’m a sensitive, conscientious, people-pleasing, perfectionistic emotion-squelcher… …who chose a role with intense deadlines and external judgment! I hit a breaking point.
  16. 16. @meredi 3 Me and Stress I’m a sensitive, conscientious, people-pleasing, perfectionistic emotion-squelcher… …who chose a role with intense deadlines and external judgment! I hit a breaking point. Something needed to change.
  17. 17. @meredi 4 Me and Stress
  18. 18. @meredi 4 Me and Stress
  19. 19. @meredi I started exploring the mind-body connection and the effects thoughts and emotions can have on our bodies. 4 Me and Stress
  20. 20. @meredi Talk Outline 5
  21. 21. @meredi Talk Outline • What is stress? Why is it a problem? 5
  22. 22. @meredi Talk Outline • What is stress? Why is it a problem? • Why is stress a problem for UXers? 5
  23. 23. @meredi Talk Outline • What is stress? Why is it a problem? • Why is stress a problem for UXers? • How stressed out are we? 5
  24. 24. @meredi Talk Outline • What is stress? Why is it a problem? • Why is stress a problem for UXers? • How stressed out are we? • Stress topics: choose-your-own adventure 5
  25. 25. @meredi Talk Outline • What is stress? Why is it a problem? • Why is stress a problem for UXers? • How stressed out are we? • Stress topics: choose-your-own adventure • Other ways to combat stress 5
  26. 26. @meredi Talk Outline • What is stress? Why is it a problem? • Why is stress a problem for UXers? • How stressed out are we? • Stress topics: choose-your-own adventure • Other ways to combat stress • Resources 5
  27. 27. @meredi What is stress? 6
  28. 28. @meredi What is stress? 6 • Autonomic nervous system:
  29. 29. @meredi What is stress? 6 • Autonomic nervous system: • Parasympathetic nervous system (‘rest and digest’)
  30. 30. @meredi What is stress? 6 • Autonomic nervous system: • Parasympathetic nervous system (‘rest and digest’) • Sympathetic nervous system (‘fight, flight, or freeze’)
  31. 31. @meredi What is stress? 7
  32. 32. @meredi What is stress? 7 • Fear system constantly scanning the environment
  33. 33. @meredi What is stress? 7 • Fear system constantly scanning the environment • Activates hormone craziness!
  34. 34. @meredi What is stress? 8
  35. 35. @meredi What is stress? 8 • Energy is mobilized to send to muscles
  36. 36. @meredi What is stress? 8 • Energy is mobilized to send to muscles • Heart rate and blood pressure increase
  37. 37. @meredi What is stress? 8 • Energy is mobilized to send to muscles • Heart rate and blood pressure increase • Non-essential activities stop or slow:
  38. 38. @meredi What is stress? 8 • Energy is mobilized to send to muscles • Heart rate and blood pressure increase • Non-essential activities stop or slow: • Digestion
  39. 39. @meredi What is stress? 8 • Energy is mobilized to send to muscles • Heart rate and blood pressure increase • Non-essential activities stop or slow: • Digestion • Immunity
  40. 40. @meredi What is stress? 8 • Energy is mobilized to send to muscles • Heart rate and blood pressure increase • Non-essential activities stop or slow: • Digestion • Immunity • Growth & tissue repair
  41. 41. @meredi What is stress? 8 • Energy is mobilized to send to muscles • Heart rate and blood pressure increase • Non-essential activities stop or slow: • Digestion • Immunity • Growth & tissue repair • Blood flow to skin
  42. 42. @meredi What is stress? 8 • Energy is mobilized to send to muscles • Heart rate and blood pressure increase • Non-essential activities stop or slow: • Digestion • Immunity • Growth & tissue repair • Blood flow to skin • Etc.
  43. 43. @meredi 9 Why is stress a problem?
  44. 44. @meredi 9 Why is stress a problem? • Lions aren’t a big problem in 2015
  45. 45. @meredi 9 Why is stress a problem? • Lions aren’t a big problem in 2015
  46. 46. @meredi 9 Why is stress a problem? • Lions aren’t a big problem in 2015 • Most of our stress is:
  47. 47. @meredi 9 Why is stress a problem? • Lions aren’t a big problem in 2015 • Most of our stress is: • Psychological
  48. 48. @meredi 9 Why is stress a problem? • Lions aren’t a big problem in 2015 • Most of our stress is: • Psychological • Ongoing
  49. 49. @meredi 9 Why is stress a problem? • Lions aren’t a big problem in 2015 • Most of our stress is: • Psychological • Ongoing
  50. 50. @meredi 9 Why is stress a problem? • Lions aren’t a big problem in 2015 • Most of our stress is: • Psychological • Ongoing • Our bodies are sustaining long-term damage!
  51. 51. @meredi 10 Why is stress a problem?
  52. 52. @meredi 10 Why is stress a problem?
  53. 53. @meredi 10 Why is stress a problem? • Chronic stress can lead to:
  54. 54. @meredi 10 Why is stress a problem? • Chronic stress can lead to: – Heart disease
  55. 55. @meredi 10 Why is stress a problem? • Chronic stress can lead to: – Heart disease – Depression and anxiety
  56. 56. @meredi 10 Why is stress a problem? • Chronic stress can lead to: – Heart disease – Depression and anxiety – Increased illness
  57. 57. @meredi 10 Why is stress a problem? • Chronic stress can lead to: – Heart disease – Depression and anxiety – Increased illness – Ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome
  58. 58. @meredi 10 Why is stress a problem? • Chronic stress can lead to: – Heart disease – Depression and anxiety – Increased illness – Ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome – Diabetes, metabolic syndrome
  59. 59. @meredi 10 Why is stress a problem? • Chronic stress can lead to: – Heart disease – Depression and anxiety – Increased illness – Ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome – Diabetes, metabolic syndrome – Pain disorders
  60. 60. @meredi 11 Why Stress is Bad for UXers
  61. 61. @meredi 11 Why Stress is Bad for UXers • Hinders creativity
  62. 62. @meredi 11 Why Stress is Bad for UXers • Hinders creativity • Creates tunnel vision
  63. 63. @meredi 11 Why Stress is Bad for UXers • Hinders creativity • Creates tunnel vision • Reduces empathy in men
  64. 64. @meredi 11 Why Stress is Bad for UXers • Hinders creativity • Creates tunnel vision • Reduces empathy in men • Hinders accessibility of memories
  65. 65. @meredi 11 Why Stress is Bad for UXers • Hinders creativity • Creates tunnel vision • Reduces empathy in men • Hinders accessibility of memories • Reduces our ability to learn and store memories
  66. 66. @meredi 12 How Stressed Are We?
  67. 67. @meredi 12 How Stressed Are We?
  68. 68. @meredi 12 How Stressed Are We? Last week, were you: • Not at all stressed • Somewhat stressed • Moderately stressed • Very stressed • Extremely stressed
  69. 69. @meredi 13 Stress: Choose Your Own Adventure! Impostor Syndrome Unnecessary Meetings Too Much Work; Deadlines Improper Expectations Keeping Up
  70. 70. @meredi 14 Watch for Key Approaches (4 As) ALTER the stressor AVOID the stressor ADAPT to the stressor ACCEPT the stressor bit.ly/fourAs
  71. 71. @meredi 15 Impostor Syndrome
  72. 72. @meredi 15 Impostor Syndrome What is it?
  73. 73. @meredi 15 Impostor Syndrome What is it?
  74. 74. @meredi 15 Impostor Syndrome What is it? • Feeling inadequate and like a fraud despite evidence to the contrary
  75. 75. @meredi 15 Impostor Syndrome What is it? • Feeling inadequate and like a fraud despite evidence to the contrary • The tendency to attribute success to external factors (like luck)
  76. 76. @meredi 15 Impostor Syndrome What is it? • Feeling inadequate and like a fraud despite evidence to the contrary • The tendency to attribute success to external factors (like luck) • The fear of being found out and having your true abilities discovered
  77. 77. @meredi 16 Impostor Syndrome Lori Widelitz-Cavallucci & Amy Silvers bit.ly/uximpostersyndrome
  78. 78. @meredi 17 Impostor Syndrome
  79. 79. @meredi 17 Impostor Syndrome Why do we have it?
  80. 80. @meredi 17 Impostor Syndrome Why do we have it?
  81. 81. @meredi 17 Impostor Syndrome Why do we have it? • We don’t have certifications
  82. 82. @meredi 17 Impostor Syndrome Why do we have it? • We don’t have certifications • We don’t have a good way to see other people’s work or process
  83. 83. @meredi 17 Impostor Syndrome Why do we have it? • We don’t have certifications • We don’t have a good way to see other people’s work or process • “Should” articles
  84. 84. @meredi 17 Impostor Syndrome Why do we have it? • We don’t have certifications • We don’t have a good way to see other people’s work or process • “Should” articles • Always feeling behind in knowledge
  85. 85. @meredi 18 Impostor Syndrome
  86. 86. @meredi 18 Impostor Syndrome How do we prevent it?
  87. 87. @meredi 18 Impostor Syndrome How do we prevent it?
  88. 88. @meredi 18 Impostor Syndrome How do we prevent it? • Avoid the words “just”, “only”
  89. 89. @meredi 18 Impostor Syndrome How do we prevent it? • Avoid the words “just”, “only” • Find someone who can mentor & support you
  90. 90. @meredi 18 Impostor Syndrome How do we prevent it? • Avoid the words “just”, “only” • Find someone who can mentor & support you • Write down your wins
  91. 91. @meredi 18 Impostor Syndrome How do we prevent it? • Avoid the words “just”, “only” • Find someone who can mentor & support you • Write down your wins • Remember you’re not alone!
  92. 92. @meredi 19 Impostor Syndrome
  93. 93. @meredi 19 Impostor Syndrome • Any other tips?
  94. 94. @meredi Unnecessary Meetings 20
  95. 95. @meredi Unnecessary Meetings 20 • Key question:
 “Should I attend?” bit.ly/unnecessarymeetings
  96. 96. @meredi Unnecessary Meetings 20 • Key question:
 “Should I attend?” • Ask yourself bit.ly/unnecessarymeetings
  97. 97. @meredi Unnecessary Meetings 20 • Key question:
 “Should I attend?” • Ask yourself • Ask your boss bit.ly/unnecessarymeetings
  98. 98. @meredi Unnecessary Meetings 20 • Key question:
 “Should I attend?” • Ask yourself • Ask your boss • Ask your colleagues bit.ly/unnecessarymeetings
  99. 99. @meredi Unnecessary Meetings 21
  100. 100. @meredi Unnecessary Meetings 21 • Decline meetings you don’t feel are necessary
  101. 101. @meredi Unnecessary Meetings 21 • Decline meetings you don’t feel are necessary • Block out non- negotiable time in your calendar
  102. 102. @meredi Unnecessary Meetings 21 • Decline meetings you don’t feel are necessary • Block out non- negotiable time in your calendar • Try email or phone instead, or dropping by someone’s desk
  103. 103. @meredi Unnecessary Meetings 22
  104. 104. @meredi Unnecessary Meetings 22 • Improve the meeting:
  105. 105. @meredi Unnecessary Meetings 22 • Improve the meeting: • Ensure everyone’s there who needs to be
  106. 106. @meredi Unnecessary Meetings 22 • Improve the meeting: • Ensure everyone’s there who needs to be • Suggest no tech
  107. 107. @meredi Unnecessary Meetings 22 • Improve the meeting: • Ensure everyone’s there who needs to be • Suggest no tech • Suggest standing up
  108. 108. @meredi Unnecessary Meetings 22 • Improve the meeting: • Ensure everyone’s there who needs to be • Suggest no tech • Suggest standing up • Insist on an agenda in advance
  109. 109. @meredi Unnecessary Meetings 22 • Improve the meeting: • Ensure everyone’s there who needs to be • Suggest no tech • Suggest standing up • Insist on an agenda in advance • Conclude with action items
  110. 110. @meredi Unnecessary Meetings 23
  111. 111. @meredi Unnecessary Meetings 23 • Any other tips?
  112. 112. @meredi 24 Too Much Work; Deadlines
  113. 113. @meredi 24 Too Much Work; Deadlines • Break a project into small steps, allocate time & prioritize
  114. 114. @meredi 24 Too Much Work; Deadlines • Break a project into small steps, allocate time & prioritize • Get fresh eyes on the problem
  115. 115. @meredi 24 Too Much Work; Deadlines • Break a project into small steps, allocate time & prioritize • Get fresh eyes on the problem • Try the Pomodoro Technique
  116. 116. @meredi 24 Too Much Work; Deadlines • Break a project into small steps, allocate time & prioritize • Get fresh eyes on the problem • Try the Pomodoro Technique • TAKE A BREAK
  117. 117. @meredi 24 Too Much Work; Deadlines • Break a project into small steps, allocate time & prioritize • Get fresh eyes on the problem • Try the Pomodoro Technique • TAKE A BREAK • Renegotiate with new information
  118. 118. @meredi 25 Too Much Work; Deadlines
  119. 119. @meredi 25 Too Much Work; Deadlines • Any other tips?
  120. 120. @meredi 26 Improper Expectations
  121. 121. @meredi 26 Improper Expectations • In-house:
  122. 122. @meredi 26 Improper Expectations • In-house: • Ever been asked to do a research study in a week?
  123. 123. @meredi 26 Improper Expectations • In-house: • Ever been asked to do a research study in a week? • Or were brought in to do research at the tail end of design?
  124. 124. @meredi 26 Improper Expectations • In-house: • Ever been asked to do a research study in a week? • Or were brought in to do research at the tail end of design?
  125. 125. @meredi 26 Improper Expectations • In-house: • Ever been asked to do a research study in a week? • Or were brought in to do research at the tail end of design? • Agency-side:
  126. 126. @meredi 26 Improper Expectations • In-house: • Ever been asked to do a research study in a week? • Or were brought in to do research at the tail end of design? • Agency-side: • Ever had a client completely get the wrong idea?
  127. 127. @meredi 27 Improper Expectations
  128. 128. @meredi 27 Improper Expectations • Proactive education:
  129. 129. @meredi 27 Improper Expectations • Proactive education: • Strategic one-on-one meetings
  130. 130. @meredi 27 Improper Expectations • Proactive education: • Strategic one-on-one meetings • Lunch & learns
  131. 131. @meredi 27 Improper Expectations • Proactive education: • Strategic one-on-one meetings • Lunch & learns • Repeat, repeat, repeat
  132. 132. @meredi 27 Improper Expectations • Proactive education: • Strategic one-on-one meetings • Lunch & learns • Repeat, repeat, repeat • Get creative with execution
  133. 133. @meredi 27 Improper Expectations • Proactive education: • Strategic one-on-one meetings • Lunch & learns • Repeat, repeat, repeat • Get creative with execution • Bi-weekly research sessions
  134. 134. @meredi 27 Improper Expectations • Proactive education: • Strategic one-on-one meetings • Lunch & learns • Repeat, repeat, repeat • Get creative with execution • Bi-weekly research sessions • Guerrilla testing
  135. 135. @meredi 27 Improper Expectations • Proactive education: • Strategic one-on-one meetings • Lunch & learns • Repeat, repeat, repeat • Get creative with execution • Bi-weekly research sessions • Guerrilla testing • Etc.
  136. 136. @meredi 27 Improper Expectations • Proactive education: • Strategic one-on-one meetings • Lunch & learns • Repeat, repeat, repeat • Get creative with execution • Bi-weekly research sessions • Guerrilla testing • Etc. • Find powerful / persuasive allies
  137. 137. @meredi 28 Improper Expectations
  138. 138. @meredi 28 Improper Expectations • Killer kick-off meetings (over-communicate)
  139. 139. @meredi 28 Improper Expectations • Killer kick-off meetings (over-communicate) • Be realistic & leave buffer room
  140. 140. @meredi 28 Improper Expectations • Killer kick-off meetings (over-communicate) • Be realistic & leave buffer room • Use your research skills: listen & intuit
  141. 141. @meredi 29 Improper Expectations
  142. 142. @meredi 29 Improper Expectations • Any other tips?
  143. 143. @meredi 30 Keeping Up
  144. 144. @meredi 30 Keeping Up • YOU ARE NOT BEHIND
  145. 145. @meredi 30 Keeping Up • YOU ARE NOT BEHIND
  146. 146. @meredi 30 Keeping Up • YOU ARE NOT BEHIND • Follow your passion
  147. 147. @meredi 30 Keeping Up • YOU ARE NOT BEHIND • Follow your passion • Dedicate time each morning to read one thing
  148. 148. @meredi 30 Keeping Up • YOU ARE NOT BEHIND • Follow your passion • Dedicate time each morning to read one thing • Try using a tool like Nuzzel to monitor the zeitgeist
  149. 149. @meredi 31 Keeping Up
  150. 150. @meredi 31 Keeping Up • Any other tips?
  151. 151. @meredi General Ways to Combat Stress 32
  152. 152. @meredi General Ways to Combat Stress 32 1. Make friends with your thoughts 
 (defusion in Acceptance & Commitment Therapy)
  153. 153. @meredi General Ways to Combat Stress 32 1. Make friends with your thoughts 
 (defusion in Acceptance & Commitment Therapy) • “I’m having the thought that…”
  154. 154. @meredi General Ways to Combat Stress 32 1. Make friends with your thoughts 
 (defusion in Acceptance & Commitment Therapy) • “I’m having the thought that…” • Sing the thought to “Happy Birthday”
  155. 155. @meredi General Ways to Combat Stress 32 1. Make friends with your thoughts 
 (defusion in Acceptance & Commitment Therapy) • “I’m having the thought that…” • Sing the thought to “Happy Birthday” • Name your stories
  156. 156. @meredi Ways to Combat Stress 33
  157. 157. @meredi Ways to Combat Stress 33 2. Practice self-compassion
  158. 158. @meredi Ways to Combat Stress 34
  159. 159. @meredi Ways to Combat Stress 34 3. Use a relaxation technique to return to ‘rest and digest’
  160. 160. @meredi Ways to Combat Stress 34 3. Use a relaxation technique to return to ‘rest and digest’ • 3 deep breaths, 9 times
  161. 161. @meredi Ways to Combat Stress 34 3. Use a relaxation technique to return to ‘rest and digest’ • 3 deep breaths, 9 times • Exercise
  162. 162. @meredi Ways to Combat Stress 34 3. Use a relaxation technique to return to ‘rest and digest’ • 3 deep breaths, 9 times • Exercise • Open Focus
  163. 163. @meredi Ways to Combat Stress 35
  164. 164. @meredi Ways to Combat Stress 35 4. Tune into your emotions
  165. 165. @meredi Ways to Combat Stress 35 4. Tune into your emotions
  166. 166. @meredi Ways to Combat Stress 35 4. Tune into your emotions • How am I feeling right now?
  167. 167. @meredi Ways to Combat Stress 35 4. Tune into your emotions • How am I feeling right now? • Let yourself feel it
  168. 168. @meredi Resources 36
  169. 169. @meredi Resources 36 The Open Focus Brain Les Fehmi and Jim Robbins
  170. 170. @meredi Resources 36 The Open Focus Brain Les Fehmi and Jim Robbins Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers Robert M. Sapolsky
  171. 171. @meredi Resources 37
  172. 172. @meredi Resources 37 The Happiness Trap Russ Harris
  173. 173. @meredi Resources 37 The Happiness Trap Russ Harris The Inner Game of Stress W. Timothy Gallwey
  174. 174. @meredi Resources 38
  175. 175. @meredi Resources 38 Self-Compassion Kristin Neff
  176. 176. @meredi Resources 38 Self-Compassion Kristin Neff The Mindful Path to Self- Compassion Christopher K. Germer
  177. 177. @meredi Resources 39
  178. 178. @meredi Resources 39 Mind Body Toolbox 
 Audio Course & Other Resources Abigail Steidley abigailsteidley.com
  179. 179. Thanks! Meredith Noble Director of User Experience, Cloudberry Creative @meredi | meredith@meredi.com
  180. 180. @meredi 41 Questions?

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