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Don’t get too caught up in the mess, rather, the process you have to get you through it

Photo by Rick Mason on Unsplash

I walked out of our bedroom this morning to an awful, disaster of a mess in the living room. Toys every which way, couch cushions were taken out, and our winter clothes in every corner of the house except hanging up.

At 6:00 am when I was still rubbing my eyes and trying to start my day, it would have been easy to get frustrated. In fact, for a moment, I was livid at the mess before me. But things quickly changed in my way of thinking.

You see, that mess carried with it a representation of the day yesterday.

The toys all over the floor were filled with stories of bad guys and heroes. My kids pulled out the couch cushions to build a fort and protect them from “dad the monster”. The winter clothes meant we had fun chasing each other in the snow yesterday. It meant my boys who had been sick the week before were finally feeling better.

This mess wasn’t simply a mess — that would be a naive way to look at it — it was the exact manifestation of what it takes to make memories and see meaningful progress in our home.

Once they get up and get going today, we have a process in place to get things cleaned up. We have chores. No device time until chores are done. So, what does that mean? That means the mess gets picked up. Things get put away. That means, quite possibly, that tonight we may have a mess again! But we have a process in place within our home to let it happen.

Letting it happen is where the memories are made.

So too it is in product. Ever feel like that? Like you’re always caught up in the mess? I know I do. And it’s easy to stay fixated on the mess. It’s easy to get frustrated and weighed down, thinking you’ll never get ahead or see progress. Rather than getting bogged down by the mess, let the mess happen. Focus, rather, on the process your teams have to get through it.

  • Sorting out messes happens in design reviews, chats with a team member, and in putting your designs in front of people.
  • Sorting out messes means we empower our teams to try new things.
  • Sorting out messes means we take ownership of our domain and see the greater picture of what we’re building.
  • Sorting out messes means we have empathy for those who feel stuck in the mess.

You’ve heard it said — design is messy — yes it is. But if your process to get you out of that mess is messy too, you’re in a much different place than the companies who are doing it right. Let the messes happen and find a process that works for your team to get them through the mess.

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Uncle Mikey helps amplify people and products through human-centered design. With 21+ years of experience in design, marketing, e-commerce, and UX, his passion is helping people & businesses apply their skills to the way they’re experienced by others. Connect with him on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, or follow his writing on Medium.

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Mike Curtis

Mike Curtis

1.7K Followers

Senior UX Designer / I help people get jobs / Top writer on Medium / Helping you design the UX of you / 20+ years in design, marketing, & sales.