At Calendly, we have engineers, designers, marketers and product specialists who never set out to forge a career in technology. Many of us didn’t even know what SaaS was until someone introduced us to the world that we now know, love and breathe — day in and day out.
Sometimes all it takes to discover a new interest is meeting people, doing something new or taking something you thought you knew out of its box.
Join a meetup group for more than networking
The Ladies that UX Meetup does exactly that. They bring together women interested in UX from all over Atlanta to network, teach each other and apply their knowledge across disciplines. At a recent meetup, they shared ways they leverage their design know-how in affordances, taxonomies and workflows to optimize their day-to-day lives. As their hosts, Calendly got a peek into the many ways that UX can optimize our lives.
Tips were presented by nearly all the women and ranged across the board from how to “card-sort” your groceries for optimal organization and efficiency, to why you really should follow the 5-second rule and get out of bed without snoozing. Carolyn McGuire talked about the overlap between philosophy and design. Another woman used a plus and delta chart to help illustrate the power of labeling thoughts for better meditation.
Ruthlessly prioritize to stay productive
The crowd especially loved Havana Nguyen’s explanation of how she uses the principles behind mobile-first design to prioritize her daily tasks.
This is a woman who works multiple gigs. She has a full-time job, blogs, freelances and apparently makes time to go to meetups and share how she does it all. Her method, she says, is forced prioritization.
Just like mobile-first forces every design element into a single column, she jots all her daily objectives down on paper in a single list. But then, she has to decide what is most important. Multi-tasking is a proven drain on efficiency and simply not an option. So she orders the list because no two things can have equal importance. She goes through, numbering each item based on what will have the most impact or will take a lot of time and is, therefore, something that she wants to get out of the way.
And as she numbers, she’s pairing tasks into batches. She’s finding those things that will flow more seamlessly together and eliminating wasted space in her day. Once she has her list of eight or nine items batched into three or four groups of tasks, suddenly she has a roadmap for her day — one that only took five minutes to create. She knows what to start with, what is most important and gets the satisfaction of getting more done in less time.
Try technology that reduces distraction
In addition to life hacks, the meetup participants have tried every app on the planet to reduce distractions and increase productivity. Here’s a sample list of some of the apps they recommend:
- Newsfeed eradicator is a Chrome and Safari plugin that will replace your Facebook newsfeed with an inspirational quote, meaning you don’t get caught in an endless scrolling cycle. Unfortunately, it doesn’t prevent your Uncle Louie from poking you incessantly. If only.
- Stay Focused is a similar plugin that takes it one step further. You can actually load any time-wasting sites into it and set a duration for a daily limit. The plugin will automatically lock you out of a site after you’ve reached your time limit and will not allow you back in until the next day. Now you can still get your Reddit fix, but not sacrifice your productivity!
- The Moment app gives you freedom over the power of your phone. It tracks how much time you spend on your different apps, coaches you and gives you historical usage data. You can also use it to set time limits on usage, enable reminders and even set it to force you off the device. The family plan can help you ensure everyone stays screen-free at the same time so you can enjoy time together, distraction-free. The Antisocial app is another alternative for monitoring phone usage and setting limits. It also includes parental controls.
- The Forest app takes an interesting and eco-friendly approach to eliminating distractions. When you want to spend time focusing, opening the mobile app or Chrome plugin starts a 30-minute timer in which a virtual sapling grows into a mature tree. If you visit one of your blacklisted apps or sites in that time period, your tree will die and you will have to start over. When you keep your virtual tree alive, Forest will plant an actual tree. Think of all the focus you can gain while planting your own personal forest!
- Insight Timer was recommended for a way to start your day with intention, clarity and gratitude. Both available as a desktop site and a mobile app, Insight Timer provides free guided meditations, music tracks and courses for everyone from the spiritual to the secular and scientific
Learn in community, get inspired and discover something new
Director of UX at Calendly, Felix Hu, enjoyed the meetup session’s emphasis on balance,
Ladies that UX is a wonderful community that we highly recommend. Their energy, warmth and resourcefulness is contagious. Who knows — maybe you’ll find that user experience is the love you never knew you had.
And men — find a way to immerse yourself in new opportunities as well. Whether it’s a meetup, hackathon, Slack channel or something completely unrelated to your industry, try it out! You may just learn something that boosts your career (or life) and walk away completely inspired.