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Designers we need to talk about stress

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From UX Bristol 2017. How we (particularly UX designers) can navigate stress in order to maintain our 'design mind' at work.

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Designers we need to talk about stress

  1. 1. Designers, We need to talk about stress. UX Bristol 2017 www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  2. 2. “I don’t really get stressed. And anyway, stress can be good - it keeps things exciting and pushes you to your best” Someone irritatingly balanced / in denial / not in employment You and stress? “Oh crap oh crap oh crap oh crap oh crap oh crap oh crap oh crap oh crap oh crap oh crap oh crap oh crap oh crap oh crap oh crap oh crap oh crap oh crap oh crap oh crap oh crap…” Everyone else? Just me? www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  3. 3. Me and work stress Advertising, London Digital & UX, London Digital & UX, Sydney UX, Bristol Stress and performance certification Prep UXBristol 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 yrs Oh crap oh crap Doing OK www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  4. 4. Why it’s a problem
  5. 5. Are you sitting comfortably?
  6. 6. Stress makes us crap at UX1 It inhibits our ‘design mind’ capabilities.. Creativity Concentration Problem solving Cooperation Empathy Patience Memory access Pattern spotting Capacity to learn www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  7. 7. Irritable Resentful Anxious Tense Fatigued Headaches Ulcers, colds Depressed Low self esteem Stress makes us feel crap2 www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  8. 8. It’s an epidemic3 40% of UK workers feel unwell from stress at work (HSE 2016) 1 in 6 UK workers will suffer depression, anxiety, chronic stress (HSE 2016) The World Health Organisation describes stress as “..The health epidemic of the 21st century” www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  9. 9. 56% feel that telling a boss about their stress would inhibit their career prospects (YouGov/SimplyHealth, 2016) It’s taboo4 www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  10. 10. Only 18% of companies offer workplace support for stress (mostly large corporates) HSE, 2016) It’s your problem5 www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  11. 11. Goals Find techniques to nurture our ‘design mind’ Find safe ways to discuss it on our projects Share experiences and tips for common UX stressors www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  12. 12. Unpacking stress
  13. 13. Some is good Amount of pressure Productivity ‘Under-load’ Bored ‘Eustress’ Focused / Flow ‘Acute stress’ Panicked ‘Chronic stress’ Burn out Today’s focus www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  14. 14. Goals Find techniques to nurture our ‘design mind’ Find safe ways to discuss it on our projects Share experiences and tips for common UX stressors www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  15. 15. • As a group/table.. • 5 minutes discussing most common stressors at work • Certain activities? • Certain situations? • Certain project types? • Write ‘em down • Any tips, techniques, resources, checklists that help? • Each team share 2 with the rest of the room Work stress-spots Activity 1 www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  16. 16. What are the common stressors in UX design? Here lies stress! What are the situations, activities, or projects that frequently cause you stress at work? ..and this helps What techniques, perspectives, activities help you? 5 mins Write large so others can see! Activity 1 www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  17. 17. Goals Find techniques to nurture our ‘design mind’ Find safe ways to discuss it on our projects Share experiences and tips for common UX stressors www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  18. 18. A model for stress Pressure Stress= Pressure Stress=++ Thoughts Behaviours www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  19. 19. Self belief Confidence, imposter thoughts Catastrophising Imagining dreadful consequences Other unhelpful thoughts Blaming, all-or-nothing, focus on the negative Tension Poised, shallow breathing Over-reaching Committing to too much, pushing yourself too much Health Not resting, poor diet, low exercise Procrastinating Indulging distractions, not confronting Pressure ++ Thoughts Behaviours Demands Too much work, too little time, too complex, unclear goals Roles Unclear roles, undesirable roles, not using PM Support Guidance, software, environment, helping hands Relationships Clashing, assertiveness, recognition, competition A model for stress www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  20. 20. Help a colleague • A colleague is having a tough time, and is telling you about it • Read their situation (big purple quote) • Write on the worksheet to unpack the causes of their stress • Each group looks at just one category (pressures, thoughts, behaviours) • Read the ‘techniques’ cards. Pick those that will help them • Add other tips that you have • Highlight the 2 techniques which may help the most • Then share with the room, including describing the techniques (3 min per group) Activity 2 www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  21. 21. Activity 2 This new project is really stressing me out. We have a decent set of requirements, but its a monster. I’m overwhelmed at how much there is to do, and I’m not sure where to start really. We have a big team and I’m not entirely sure who’s doing what. I hope they’re not expecting me to lead this? Also, I feel a bit like the weak link in the team. I’m worried that they’ll think I’m rubbish, and not a ‘proper’ UXer. This could be disastrous for my career; there’s no way I’ll get promoted if I don’t nail it. I’m really panicky at work these days, and I just can’t think straight when I’m like that. I find it really distracting in the office too - all these emails, office chat, banter on slack. I seem to spend more time doing that, or tidying my desk, than actually tackling the work. And then there is this pitch-work and the blog article that I’ve agreed to take on. I can’t go back to my boss now I’ve said I’d do it, but it’s eating into my evenings and weekends. I’m really tired these days, and feel out-of-shape. I know I should sort that out too. www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  22. 22. Pressures Demands Too much work, too little time, complexity, unclear goals Roles Unclear roles, undesirable roles, not using PM Support Guidance, software, environment, helping hands Relationships Clashing, assertiveness, recognition, competition 1) Unpack it: 
 What factors are contributing to the situation? 2) Address it: 
 What actions and perspectives might help? Refer to ‘technique sheets’ and your own experiences Write large so others can see! Activity 2 www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  23. 23. Thoughts Self belief Confidence, imposter thoughts Catastrophising Imagining dreadful consequences Other unhelpful thoughts Blaming, all-or-nothing, focus on the negative 1) Unpack it: 
 What factors are contributing to the situation? 2) Address it: 
 What actions and perspectives might help? Refer to ‘technique sheets’ and your own experiences Write large so others can see! Activity 2 www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  24. 24. Behaviours Tension Poised, shallow breathing Over-reaching Committing to too much, pushing yourself too much Health Not resting, poor diet, low exercise Procrastinating Indulging distractions, not confronting 1) Unpack it: 
 What factors are contributing to the situation? 2) Address it: 
 What actions and perspectives might help? Refer to ‘technique sheets’ and your own experiences Write large so others can see! Activity 2 www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  25. 25. Technique cards Activity 2
  26. 26. Minimum Viable Deliverable When: We’re overwhelmed with complexity, amount, time How: Focus on delivering value, not effort Steps 1. Imagine our deadline is in 1 hour 2. What is the quickest but most valuable thing we could do? (a sketch, just one section, competitor showcase, a phone-video report, reuse existing work) 3. Do this 4. Relax knowing we have a fall-back 5. Plan what more is needed (liaise with stakeholder who may be happy with our MVD) Activity 2 www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  27. 27. Getting Things Done (GTD) When: We’re overwhelmed with the number of things we have to do How: Create a clear, prioritised, scheduled list Steps 1. List all tasks 2. Re-write for specificity (verb + noun) 3. Prioritise (as we see fit) 4. Group those which we can do now (3 minute rule) 5. Group those which we can delegate 6. Everything else, schedule Activity 2 www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  28. 28. Roles matrix (RACI) When: We need clarity over who does what on a project How: Create a matrix of tasks and roles, then define levels of involvement Responsible Accountable Collaborator Informed Director UX Designer Dev PM Approach and budget A / R C C C C Resource, risk, scope, team comms I C C C A / R Research A / C R C C I Brand A / C C R C I Journeys A / C R C C I UI concepts A / C R R C I … … … … … … Activity 2 www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  29. 29. Assertiveness When: You need courage to express your needs, or your limits How: Create a ‘reasoned case’ first. Steps 1. Create a ‘reasoned case’, using a format like this: “I can do [the sign-up journey designs] by [the end of this week] at the standard of [client-ready], and then I can [update the style guide] [next week]. Are you happy with that, or should we look at priority, or fidelity, or getting support?” Activity 2 www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  30. 30. Self belief When: You doubt your ability to cope / deliver How: Visualise yourself coping, and work back Steps 1. Recall a stressful situation 2. Imagine the most stressful part. Get into that moment 3. Now, imagine that you’re actually coping really well 4. What are you doing that proves you’re coping so well? Your delivery? The work and artefacts? Your thoughts and mood? The reactions of others? 5. Write these down 6. For each, what would it take to achieve that? Make that plan 7. So, if you do those things, do you believe you can do it well? 8. Try saying that aloud to embed it Activity 2 www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  31. 31. Catastrophising When: You need to pull back from the sense THAT IT’S A TOTAL NIGHTMARE! How: Change your perspective Steps 1. Write down (or speak) what the stressful situation is 2. Consider the below, then re-write to be more balanced, realistic, kinder Experiment. It’s OK if it’s not right; learning and iterating is the main goal. What’s the worst case? And would you be able to find a way through that? “It’s OK, because___________” Switch your reasonable brain on. How will it be in 3, 6, 12 months? Reminder that it is (probably) temporary. Activity 2 www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  32. 32. Helpful thoughts When: Unhelpful thinking patterns are getting in the way How: Scan your thoughts, replace unhelpful ones with kinder ones Steps 1. Scan this list of classic ‘thinking errors’ 2. Write down (expose them!) those that apply 3. Now write kinder, helpful, fairer versions 4. Maybe even say the helpful version aloud, to help embed it Type Language or thought Self doubt “I never / I can't / I’m not…” All or nothing “Must / Never / Has to / Can not…” Labelling “Useless / Failed / Rubbish …” Negative focus “Complete failure / Waste of time…” Catastophising “Awful / Disaster / Worst ever …” Generalisations “Always / Never / They’re all …” Phoneyism “I’m not qualified / I’m not a proper… “ I cant stand it “I can’t bear it / Can’t stand it…” Blame “It’s because they…” Activity 2 www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  33. 33. Turn anxiety to excitement When: You need a quick hack to be able to ‘turn towards’ the anxiety How: Pretend that the anxiety is in fact excitement Background • The physiological response to anxiety, anger, excitement is very similar. • However the emotions are very different. This quick fix can help us perform when anxiety kicks in. Steps 1. If you’re anxious, tell yourself that you are excited. 2. Back it up with an upright posture. 3. You’ll find that you’re more able to ‘turn towards’ the situation. Activity 2 www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  34. 34. Procrastinate or confront? When: You find you put things off How: Spot your avoidance tactics, then find ways to focus Do you…. Do these… Over-tidy Turn off distractions.. Spend a lot of time on social media .. but schedule breaks Reply to emails as they come in THEN >> Rely on your list for your priority tasks Complain a lot Find your motivation Snack a lot Just do the first step.. put pen to paper Re-do your lists unnecessarily Know that delaying compounds stress Plan, and re-plan Activity 2 www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  35. 35. Relaxation When: You’re tense How: Breathing, visualisation, sensory focus, release muscle tension Steps 1. Sit comfortably, close your eyes if you like 2. Breathe deeply from the belly 3. Jostle about a bit to relax tension; including face and shoulders 4. Focus on the sensation of breathing. Count every out-breath up to 10. Repeat. 5. As thoughts arise, observe them, then turn focus back to the breath. 6. Repeat for as long as you can spare. Activity 2 www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  36. 36. Over-committing When: We’re in ‘hero mode’ and taking on too much How: Various Consider these: 1. Deliver existing tasks before taking on new ones 2. Only commit 70% of your time. Things often take longer, and fires need fighting 3. List your priorities, and plan tasks accordingly (eg: 1. Health 2. Immediate project 3. Nurture team 4. New business 5…) 4. Where can you delegate or get support? 5. Can your PM help? Activity 2 www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  37. 37. Taking breaks When: You’re cramming, and becoming ineffective How: Various Consider: 1. Scheduling breaks. (Pomodoro technique: 5 minute break every 25 minutes) 2. Breaking tasks down into small (20 minute) chunks. Break after each 3. Establish a team rhythm - and remind each other to down-tools A good break involves: • A different space • A different focus • Movement / oxygenating • Socialising • Using the senses Activity 2 www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  38. 38. Pressures Demands Too much work, too little time, complex, unclear goals Roles Unclear roles, undesirable roles, not using PM Support Guidance, software, environment, helping hands Relationships Clashing, assertiveness, recognition, competition Self stress diagnostic 1. Describe it: in your natural conversational language, to help expose any unhelpful thoughts 2. Unpack it: Write down any factors which are contributing to your situation 3. Address it: What actions and perspectives will help? And which will have the biggest impact? Thoughts Self belief Confidence, imposter thoughts Catastrophising Imagining dreadful consequences Other unhelpful thoughts Blaming, all-or-nothing, focus on the negative Behaviours Tension Poised, shallow breathing Over-reaching Committing to too much, pushing yourself too much Health Not resting, poor diet, low exercise Procrastinating Indulging distractions, not confronting www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  39. 39. Goals Find techniques to nurture our ‘design mind’ Find safe ways to discuss it on our projects Share experiences and tips for common UX stressors www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  40. 40. Self belief Confidence, imposter thoughts Catastrophising Imagining dreadful consequences Other unhelpful thoughts Blaming, all-or-nothing, focus on the negative Tension Poised, shallow breathing Over-reaching Committing to too much, pushing yourself too much Health Not resting, poor diet, low exercise Procrastinating Indulging distractions, not confronting Pressure ++ Thoughts Behaviours Demands Too much work, too little time, too complex, unclear goals Roles Unclear roles, undesirable roles, not using PM Support Guidance, software, environment, helping hands Relationships Clashing, assertiveness, recognition, competition A model for stress NSFW www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  41. 41. A safe-for-work vocabulary (fight the taboo) “Are we comfortable with our tasks and roles?” “Do we feel we’re in the right mind-set for this yet?” “Are we happy with our approach / priorities / method?” “Is anything distracting us?” “Are we clear what we’re doing, and why?” “Where do we need support?” “Can we lean on PM/scrum-master more?” www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  42. 42. A safe-for-work vocabulary (fight the taboo) • You can do better • 2 minutes: what phrases / approaches feel right for you? • Remember, the goal is to be able to include this stuff when discussing the health of our projects. • Share 2 phrases with the room Activity 3 www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  43. 43. What vocabulary & approaches work for you? What phrases, words, or approaches feel right for you? We want to be able to talk about stress, pressures, mind-state in our project teams to perform well, and tackle the taboo around stress. 2 mins Write large so others can see! Activity 3 www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  44. 44. Summary
  45. 45. 4 things to take away We’ve shared common UX stress-spots Stress management is a core UX skill We have the vocabulary to discuss it We have a tool- set to navigate stress www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  46. 46. Books Resources Health and Safety Executive http://www.hse.gov.uk/ stress/furtheradvice/ whatisstress.htm How to deal with stress Palmer and Cooper The stress report Do Lectures Courses Stress and Performance at London Centre for Coaching https:// www.centreforcoaching.co m/stress-management-- performance-coaching Web Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development https://www.cipd.co.uk/ knowledge/fundamentals/ emp-law/health-safety/ work-related-stress Udemy - Stress Management https://www.udemy.com/ courses/personal- development/stress- management www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds
  47. 47. Thank you :-) www.slideshare.net/bensimmonds @bensimmonds ben@bensimmonds.co

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