100 ways to make your working life a little easier

I think it’s fair to say that the past few years have been a little ‘challenging’, both in our personal and professional lives!

We’ve had to learn new tools, new ways of working and redesign many tried and tested aspects of our practice almost overnight.

I think everyone could do with a helping hand at the moment, particularly at work.

I’ve been compiling a list of the things that have made my life a little easier on the projects I’ve worked on over the past 24 years.

I was inspired to do something with it (see tip 71) after reading  ‘100 ways to slightly improve your life without really trying’ which was a great January read.

I hope these will help to make your working life a little easier in 2022 and beyond.

Baz Luhrmann soundtrack is optional ; )

1. Acknowledge and celebrate your small victories. They could be the only ones you'll get.

2. Get away from the screen and go outside as often as you can.

3. Everyone feels imposter syndrome. Think of it as a good thing. It can help you question your assumptions, motivate you to work hard, check your biases and encourage you to collaborate with others.

4. Foster strong and supportive relationships with people, they will help you to be more resilient.

5. Ask for help when you need it. Share your worries and concerns with your team.

6. Focus on what you can control.

7. Try not to compare yourself to others, only to yourself. Approach social media with extreme caution - it’s like dancing with the devil.

8. Writing helps you to work out what you actually think about something. Trying to teach it to someone helps you to work out if you properly understand it.

9. Feel the fear and do it anyway.

10. Try and share something useful every day with your colleagues and your networks.

11. Do the simple things well, like remembering to say thank you and showing up on time.

12. Be kind and praise others.

13. Speak plain English.

14. Say if you don't understand - you’ll help other people who might be confused but may not feel comfortable to say so.

15. Try to use a new tool, technique or approach on every project to keep things fresh and interesting.

16. Don't be a d*ck.

17. Honesty is a superpower.

18. Help the next generation.

19. Check your biases - build teams who are different than you in as many ways as possible.

20. Demonstrate the behaviours that you'd like to see in others.

21. Keep going and never give up. Roll with the punches. "It is the same with people as it is with riding a bike. Only when moving can one comfortably maintain one's balance." Albert Einstein

22. Adopt an experimental mindset that aims to try new things in the pursuit of learning.

23. Involve the people who will use the thing you are designing as you design it.

24. Rest. "Don't give up, take a break!" - Banksy

25. Make sure you understand the why behind what you're doing. What is the actual problem you are trying to solve?

26. Expect uncertainty & change and for it to feel uncomfortable. Have someone you can talk to when it starts to feel too uncomfortable. 

27. A creative brain needs to be regularly watered. Immerse yourself in music, nature, book, film, TV for inspiration and relaxation. 

28. A side project can help you to try out new things, scratch an itch and lets you do the stuff you’re not doing in your paid work. It doesn't have to be a 'hustle'.

29. You are not your job so don’t feel defined by your job title. It’s never too late to be the person you want to be.

30. Look after your future self and don’t be too hard on your past self.

31. Try and remember to smell the roses once in a while.

32. Tell people what you love doing and they'll help you to do more of it.

33. Try and avoid always defaulting to tech. Don’t underestimate the value of a blank page and a pen.

34. Design is never finished and will never be perfect, so stop trying to make it so. Good enough is good enough.

35. Good design is hard. You're doing the hard work to make other people’s lives easier. It's worth it.

36. You can't design what you don't understand.

37. Your sense of humour will save you. Try not to take it all too seriously.

38. Do what you can to make work feel less worky. Enjoy yourself, it's later than you think.

39. In a world of back to back zoom calls, make time to talk to people about other things besides work. 

40. Eat and drink with the people you work with.

41. Give away what you know. People will improve it and give it back to you.

42. You live and work in a bubble. Get involved with your broader creative community. 

43. Keep a diary of what you're working on so you can reflect back on what the hell you've spent your time on later on down the road.

44. Be curious and ask questions. Who, what, when, why & how are your friends.

45. Find whatever method works for you to help you keep up with your industry.

46. Remember, everyone else is making it up as they go along to some extent. Some are just better at hiding it than others.

47. Tune in to the good stuff and out of any cynicism and negativity.

48. Just take a small step, get started and do something. This will give you something to point at and people can understand what you’ve got in your head.

49. Ask for feedback as often as you can.

50. It's ok to change your mind.

51. Invest in good kit, especially the things you use every day.

52. Always ask what feels like the stupid question.

53. Show up and do the work. While you work, show your working, not just the end result.

54. Do what you said you would do, when you said you would do it.

55. Check to make sure you've understood properly

56. Act the part. All the world's a stage after all. But - ‘We are what we pretend to be so be careful what you pretend to be’ - kurt Vonnegu

57. Follow your gut.

58. Plan for your plans to change. If you need to change your original approach then do so.

59. It's ok to be wrong and to make mistakes and and even better to admit it.

60. Being interested makes you interesting.

61. Fear can be paralysing. Imagine being fearless. What would it enable you to do? Focus on trying to do that.

62. Collaboration is wonderful. Try not to use language like 'Who's joining the call from your side' - it's a project, not a war!

63. Sell your ideas.

64. Self promotion is fine. No one else is going to do it for you.

65. Learn by doing.

66. You can do it. You probably just did, so don't be so hard on yourself. You’re better than you think.

67. Talk less and listen more.

68. Write down what things you want to be true in relation to you and your career in the future.

69. Take responsibility for your work.

70. Context is everything.

71. Steal the good stuff, like patterns, behaviours and attitudes that you admire in others.

72. Try not to fall in love with your ideas. Far better to fall in love with the problem and the idea of trying to prove yourself wrong.

73. Treat people the same, regardless of their job title.

74. Think what it's like to work with you.

75. Do great work, then share what you learned from doing it. This will win you more work. Rinse and repeat.

76. Look after people.

77. Mentor and be mentored.

78. Share your stories.

79. Try and leave things in a better state than how you found them.

80. Be humble and don't take all of the credit.

81. Think about what your superpower is and make sure you get to use it regularly. If you don’t think you have a superpower - ask someone!

82. Questioning your ability is a good sign that you're stretching yourself. It's a good thing.

83. Take good notes.

84. Be yourself.

85. Frame your opinions as hypotheses. It'll be less painful when you realise that they are wrong.

86. Always do a practice run.

87. Prototype everything. Fake it until you make it.

88. Make roles and responsibilities clear within teams as soon as possible.

89. If you don't understand the purpose and mission of the organisation you're working for don't do any more work for them until you do.

90. Avoid working on your own at all costs. Other people will make everything better.

91. Enthusiasm is magic.  

92. You make your own luck. A good attitude helps your luck .'Whether you think you can, or think you can't - you're right' - Henry Ford

93. Do the stuff that you know other people won't bother to do.

94. Try and see things from other people's perspectives.

95. Shoot for over communication, especially when working remotely.

96. Be inclusive and design for everyone. Always.

97. Identify your riskiest assumptions early and focus on working out if they are right or not.

98. Make sure you understand the problem you've been asked to solve.

99. Try and get at least a tiny bit better at what you do every day.

100. Take all unsolicited advice with a pinch of salt.

James is responsible for leading user-centred design projects across all industry sectors, and also runs cxlabs. He has written two UX books, speaks regularly at international conferences, and co-founded UXBristol.