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Settling (plunging) into my new routine

It’s been a couple of weeks since we’ve been told we need to work from the office on Mondays and Wednesdays. Personally, my productivity plunges underground, and because I have evening calls after those office hours, I’m finding myself pulling 14 hour days. It’s very sustainable!

Worse still is how un-ergonomic the office setup is (non-adjustable table; chairs with minimal back support; no proper foot rest; monitors from the 2010s if other people get to the three HDR monitors we have in the office), and that is fucking my back right up.

It takes a whole day to actually recover from that, sometimes more, and it’s affecting the quality of the rest of my life. I’m actually finding myself leaning on medication to keep the pain at bay, instead of being able to go to my bed and do some stretches if I were at home.

This has also been messing up a lot of my habits — a lot of them presumes one that can be predicted, or that I actually have the time to do it. These are some things I have to figure out how to best fit it into the new schedule:

  • Meal prep: Because our office days are Monday and Wednesday, and I’m inclined to buy a salad for lunch, I’m not sure if I should be batch-cooking on Sunday. I have the aforementioned evening calls that sometimes end at 11pm, and I’m not sure if I would have the time to spend the hour cooking on Tuesday evening/night to make sure I have food for the later part of the week.
  • Money: This is mostly just an adjustment and a mindset shift, because of the added costs of coffee, food, transport, and general I-see-a-thing-and-I-get-reminded-that-I-want-it.
  • Writing: This very hobby. How very meta, right? It’s not just the time that I use to write these out too, but actually finding the willpower to want to, after work ends (at 11pm sometimes). I’ve never missed more than 2 weeks of posting, until… this one, I guess, since this has been in my Notion drafts for that long.
  • Gym: In the same vein of writing, it takes Monday and Wednesday out of the rotation for potential gym days — I go in the mornings because it’s less crowded, but I also don’t want to sacrifice too much sleep time (which is also a problem if I’m commuting 2 hours a day)
  • Physio exercises: These are somewhat separated from actual gym time, because they’re more localized ab exercises compared to the equipment I need at the gym. I can try doing them at night, but sometimes I get too tired and lazy, and just… don’t.
  • Snacking: This is entirely on me, but we have a snack area and I find myself gravitating towards the dried mangos and Twisties because why not? (Why yes? @ myself)

Anyway, this feels a lot like complaining and very little of solutions, and I’m frustrated. Hopefully I’d have worked something out, found my groove, and working on being just that little bit more productive with my new routine. And without a 2+ weeks break for writing!

#IAmRemarkable

  • Life, Work

Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending an #IAmRemarkable session hosted by Akua Nyame-Mensah. The hour and a half flew past like it was nothing, and filled me with the hope that one day, too, I will not be filled with dread when it comes to talking about my own achievements.

(Even typing that! “My own achievements”…)

Why I attended this

More than just for personal growth though, I definitely want the ladies and other marginalized members of my team to be able to have the confidence and competence to talk about what they have done and achieved.

I’ve never been someone who likes talking about myself, and I used to prefer sticking to the background and “doing the work” — just like a good little worker should, I thought. It served me well for a few years early in my career, because I had bosses who noticed the good work done, and I was rewarded appropriately.

When I moved to a consultancy, that changed. It was a culture shock in that area, being given the agency to chart your own career and having that be the norm. It wasn’t the greatest of workplaces though, and there were a lot of factors going into an appraisal beyond “work” done, like utilization hours… and how well you knew your leaders.

Now, though, where I work? There has been a giant shift to ‘owning’ your career, and the biggest change is having to put your own promotion package together and deciding when you’re ready to take the leap, instead of passively waiting for your manager to tell you that you’re ready. I went through that whole process earlier this year, and it was nerve-wracking and filled me up with so much imposter syndrome.

Moving from criticizing to self-love

There was definitely a lot of emphasis on shifting our mindsets, and moving yourself from one end of this spectrum to the other:

Criticizing → Constructive criticism → Self promotion → Self-love

#IAmRemarkable, because:

The workshop also included some time for us to think about our own #IAmRemarkable statements, both writing them down and speaking out loud (or typing it in the chat).

I’m not gonna lie, I had to google for some inspiration because I needed a starting point, but here are my statements just in case I come up in your search, and you needed something to guide you too 😂

  • #IAmRemarkable, because I am always looking out for my team’s well-being
  • #IAmRemarkable, because I always want to do better and be better
  • #IAmRemarkable, because I am resilient through life changes and revelations
  • #IAmRemarkable, because I pay attention to the small details
  • #IAmRemarkable, because I try to live through my core values and using them to guide my decisions

What’s in a name?

  • Work

Cheesy title, but we’ll work with it.

This topic actually comes up quite a lot with people who booked sessions with me on ADPList, and entering the job market for the first time. Should I be looking for a job with a specific title? Are there roles I should avoid? What do I do when the job description says I have to do everything?

The case against the UI/UX roles

I’ve called myself, at one point or the other, these titles: Experience Designer, UX Designer, Product Designer, Interaction Designer, Service Designer, Information Architect, CX Consultant…

But never a UX/UI designer. I’m of the school of thought that while you can be good at UX or UI, you can never do both at the same time.

Both roles are integral to the success of the product that you’re building. I see it a lot with job postings from companies that don’t have the digital/design maturity to discern between the two roles, too. That, or startups wanting a UX team of one, which isn’t a bad thing until you realize that they are never going to scale from that.

The scope of work and expertise of each UX and UI role is different, and a balanced team needs specialists who are T (or X)-shaped, rather than trying to be a shorter π or worse (and another topic altogether), the phallic-shaped designer.

The value-delivering Megazord

Right now, I’m an Experience Lead at my workplace. The visual design (look ma, beyond just the user interface!) counterpart in the team is a Design Lead.

Together, we join forces like Power Rangers and come together to become a value-delivering design team, covering everything from strategy to concepts, user flows to wireframes, design systems to individual screens. Amongst many other things, of course.

But I’m not going to sit here and pretend that all our clients (or indeed, even our own internal teams outside of the Experience team) understand what we do, and what our impact is. It’s still a struggle sometimes, even in our organization which already places some emphasis on Experience 1A real excerpt from Pubicis Sapient’s ways of working: We’re relentless about drawing the best from our SPEED capabilities: strategy, product, experience, engineering and data, in a creative way to provide our clients’ customers with leading experiences. and know how good experiences increase a plethora of things, including customer lifetime value, customer retention, satisfaction, and so on and on.

Making an impact

But beyond the actual business metrics, and beyond titles, what we do as designers impact to a great degree what people experience in their lives. It doesn’t start and end with just “translating business requirements” or “my stakeholder wants to do this so I guess we’ll do this”.

Instead, there’s a lot for us to be intentional about: the language we use, the people we include, and the (hopefully positive) impact we make on their lives. Then there are questions like, how do we make sure that accessibility is a foundation and not just an after-thought and a checklist? How do we make sure that we are not unintentionally excluding people by calling them “edge-cases”?

And even beyond the fabled “user” — what about our own employees? What about the newcomer who’s joining the team, and wants to hit the ground running but still with ample support?

I’m really interested in this intersection of how intentional design can improve processes and people’s day-to-day, and honestly? That goes beyond the title I call myself.

On mentoring and mentee-ing

  • Work

According to my dashboard on ADPList, I’ve logged 1,440 minutes in sessions. If those minutes are consecutive, I would’ve spent one entire 24-hour day (and more – some of these sessions definitely ran for longer than schedule) connecting with other people.

That’s pretty cool, actually. It also makes me incredibly happy when people I’ve talked to drop me a message to tell me that they’ve gotten and accepted a job offer, which has happened a few times now! I’m just glad to be here for the ride, and being able to be an observer to their growth.

As part of my leadership training with the Next Generation Leadership Team program at my workplace, I get to connect with the global leadership team and the c-suite, for half an hour each week, for the next half year. I had my first session with our global CFO last Friday morning, and was obviously calm and collected in the lead-up to it.

Just kidding, you know I was an anxious little over-thinker about whether I was going to be wasting her time. We had a really good talk though, just getting to know each other a little more than the introductions we had during a bigger session a couple of weeks ago.

All that to say – to people reaching out to potential mentors: keep doing what you do!

That takes amazing resilience and determination to want to get better. I’ve been good about finding mentors in my own company (even before this huge opportunity with the global leadership team), and catching up with previous teammates, but I haven’t personally waded into the world of professionals in the other parts outside of my sphere.

(Here’s my list of excuses I’ve been telling myself: I’m worried about wasting people’s time, I have to set a lot of context for things to make sense, I don’t specifically need tips but just general leadership development, and I’m not sure that ‘free’ is the right model for that…)

Anyway, yeah. Gonna have to dig deeper than that and actually set up a few sessions with some people I’ve put on a tentative list of ADPList, and see if I can form more relationships that way.


In other stuff – happy lunar new year!