Hint: It's all in the art of self-reflection

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Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

For the past few weeks, I’ve been impenetrable. Between days filled with back to back client meetings, packing up my apartment, doctor visits, and a company reorg, I decided to change my phone plan which inadvertently meant I had to change my phone number too.

It is Tuesday morning and I am pacing my partially packed lounge room under abject stress. How will I ever get back into my computer when they are sending the bloody confirmation code to my old phone number? If I hadn’t started this new job in the middle of a pandemic perhaps I would actually a colleague's phone number to call. …


Embrace the chaos of this holiday season by embracing yourself

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Photo by Stephan Seeber on Unsplash

The busy season is upon us, holidays are around the corner, and on top of that, we are still amidst a pandemic. It is okay if you feel like screaming into a pillow. It IS overwhelming, a little chaotic, and totally exhausting.

But let’s not lose ourselves in the chaos. Here are a few things you can do today to replenish your energy levels as you navigate this crazy time of year.

Be honest with yourself.

This time of year is usually filled with obligation, endless festivities, gift-giving, and a crazy amount of stimulation. Understand that everyone has experienced COVID-19 differently and practice empathy. Think about your comfort levels before responding to any invitations and make sure you communicate them early. Set boundaries with your loved ones in advance. Acknowledge the financial pressure some are experiencing right now and propose alternative ways to celebrate. …


CAREER

From an underrated hobby to an activity that my team adores, this is a simple way we can prevent workplace burnout while improving our performance.

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I first noticed our team’s natural gravitation to puzzles after someone left an unfinished puzzle on a table by our teams working station. Sitting at my desk nearby, I observed people walking past, slow down, take a look around, sneakily add a couple of extra pieces to the puzzle and then continue on with their day. They’d leave with a real strut in their stride, feeling proud of their accomplishment.

This pattern evolved over a couple of weeks. As one puzzle was completed, miraculously, a new one would appear, and so on. No one knew who was mysteriously donating puzzles to our corner of the office and no one really spoke about them (perhaps we were all concerned that the puzzle owner would be offended that we were all contributing to their passion project). But over time, our team grew more engaged. Eventually, mid-puzzle, we’d look up to find other friendly faces standing across the table– they too, revelling in the state of deep focus that only a puzzle can bring. …


UX Design

Alignment is a characteristic that is essential to all high-performing teams.

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It is true, in today's world, designers can be found in almost every industry from ag-tech to finance. The sprawling need for design input in industries that have long been devoid of creativity is at the crux of what it means to be a designer. To do something that has not been done before.

Among all of the excitement, the push and pull of the much-needed and highly sought after skill set of designers, it can be easy to lose a piece of yourself. It is not uncommon for designers to be asked to work on something that directly conflicts with their personal values. And it can be a challenging discussion to have when your livelihood depends on it. …


TECHNOLOGY

The pace of progress is deceptively rapid and as things continue to get faster, the question surfaces: Will technology ever nurture us in our race against time?

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Photo by Braden Collum on Unsplash

Whilst we might have everything at our fingertips, time still seems to evade us.

Albert Einstein, developer of the theory of relativity, wasn’t talking about the chaotic state of an interface when he noted the quote above. Yet, his sentiment captures a feeling too many of us are familiar with.

In the modern world, our lives are filled with complexity and as a society that subscribes to efficiency and speed; we long to break through the clutter to find simplicity, perpetually searching for new solutions.

We attend more meetings, with less meaning. There is more information, but less truth. More ways to communicate, less talking. And certainly more options, yet less satisfaction. We spend countless hours planning, working and advancing- and yet we never have enough time doing the things that we love. …


Marketing

Hacks that will accelerate your social media stats

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Photo by Eaters Collective on Unsplash

Although I spend a lot of my time problem solving within the product design space, marketing is an essential fragment of holistic design. And today marketing and UX are increasingly interlaced. My day ranges from brand launches to product strategy, and while I do not advertise myself as a social media expert, I have been asked to advise clients on their social media strategy. Over the years I have experimented and learnt tricks that will accelerate social media stats.

Curation

The most common question clients ask me: ‘Which picture should I upload onto my page?’

This is one of the commonly asked questions that both clients and individuals struggle with. When it comes to Instagram the right image is capital and expertise around this is what influencers will pay most for. We exist in a world where our senses are on overload trying to absorb all the information available to us. So, getting to the point with high-quality images will connect you with a larger audience in Cyberland much faster. …


CAREER ADVICE

The times where employees worked at the same place until retirement have long passed.

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Today, people who are entering the workforce face a very different experience with unique challenges.Extensive study around culture and technology has contributed to an ongoing examination of how technology affects human interaction. I have explored the way people experience change (predominantly as a result of emerging technologies) as well as how people can prepare for that change. Throughout my research I have found that a person’s career over the last two decades has transformed and become a process of continual reinvention. …


TECHNOLOGY

Artificial Intelligence

The inception of the artificial employee is on the horizon and workplace diversity will soon include artificial intelligence.

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The rise of AI in all areas of life is inevitable and it is set to reshape the way we think about consciousness and our personal identity. In our current economic climate it is no longer a futuristic dream where workplaces include artificial intelligence (AI) as part of their workforce. From The Matrix to Black Mirror, we have seen freakishly-smart, artificial intelligent robots bleed into popular media for the last two decades. While terrifying, these films have captivated and inspired our collective consciousness impacting the way we see a future that is influenced by AI.

In a world where we can barely imagine what our lives will look like 5 years time, it is useless to try to predict how exactly robots are going to change the way we live. But taking into account our fascination with technology, it is fair to assume AI is here to create change. With the support and investment of large companies such as Google, Amazon, Apple, Uber and Microsoft who are committed to the development of AI, the sci-fi future we always saw in films is much closer than we once predicted. …


LIFESTYLE

And tips on how to create your own.

My studio is like a sanctuary — it is an escape from the stresses of reality and it is distraction free and totally immersive. A studio is a space where you should feel most comfortable being yourself and should be unique to you and your needs as a creative. I have come a long way since sitting on my bedroom floor painting and I have learned quite a few things about cultivating a workspace that excites you. …


REMOTE WORK

And tips for how to work remotely more effectively.

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Photo by Alex wong on Unsplash

Over the past six weeks I have been working remotely from Australia. Besides the fact that I hadn’t been home for 2.5 years (which meant I would no doubt discover some fresh Aussie slang), working remotely was going to be an interesting personal experiment. I have struggled with managing work-life balance in the past; a pitfall of being a creative means inspiration can spark at all hours. So, admittedly this endeavor made me a little nervous. Collaboration is essential when working in agile and I love the social interaction I get from my colleagues at work.

Since returning to Chicago I reflected on some of my discoveries on this journey, wrapping it up with some tips for others who are interested in trying remote work. …

About

Kate Darmody

Product Design Expert, Writer and Creative. I build products & tell stories. Work in The Startup.

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