Gonna try a different format for this month, emoji-style.
🕵️♂️ Job Search. So far, three full interview processes ending in rejection and lots of applications without hearing a word. Which is, let’s be honest, depressing. At the same time, I’ve never felt better about my own growth: I’m learning and designing every day, for things I’m really passionate about, and my portfolio’s shape has reduced my imposter syndrome quite a lot (though not entirely, alas). My consolation and comfort this month comes from Krishna’s words in the Bhagavad Gita:
Let your concern (or focus) be on your action,
let it not be on the outcome of the action.
Do not act only out of expectation of a result,
but then do not slip into inactivity.
Great words, holy words.
👨💻 Work. I’m currently continuing to focus on my “100 Days” of visual UI learning. Every morning, I’m in Shift Nudge (working through it a second time, focusing on each homework assignment), and then I’m working on some longer-term web/mobile case studies in the late morning or afternoon. A fun side-effect: my Figma shortcut is ace right now, and that’s nice.
🧠 Memory. I’ve dusted off my SRS (spaced repetition system), and working to create what Tom Geoco calls “information scaffold” that allows designers to operate fast. Using Mochi, I’m making SRS prompts for the following, memorizing about 10 prompts a day:
- UI Components and Screen Patterns (drawing initially from Mobbin’s fabulous dictionary)
- Principles of Behavioral Psychology (drawing from Geoco’s list and CogLode’s incredible behavioral design cookbook)
- Atomic Design principles (drawing from Brad Frost’s book)
- Usability Heuristics (e.g. Jakob Nielsen’s list)
- Design Systems
- Business Terms
Probably the most interesting challenge here is crafting the prompts so that I can recall what I need on the basis of use case. For example, it’s a good thing for me to have the 48 UI components from Mobbin’s list memorized, and the 100+ screen patterns too. But am I memorizing this in such a way that I recall it, when I need it? That’s the big test.
Play. The worst part of Spring (allergies) seems to be largely over, so I’m taking advantage of the weather with some hiking, running, and the occasional swim. I’m also playing around with Procreate—nothing fancy, but just trying my hand at the occasional illustration. Good things for the soul, all.
📚 Books. I’m also reading some great stuff:
- Closing the Loop: Systems Thinking for Designers (2023) by Sheryl Cababa: Wonderful.
- Right Ho, Jeeves (1934) by PG Wodehouse: Vintage hilarity.
- Making Design Decisions: How to design effective user interfaces at warp-speed (2023) by Tom Geoco: Terrific guide on how to work quickly at great design.
- The site reflects who I am and am aspiring to be
- It’s my hot rod—a platform to learn and tinker
One of my favorite things building this was learning Utopia’s responsive type system, which combined with Every Layout utility classes has been fantastic. The CSS still needs to be refactored, and there’s still some accessibility work that needs to be done—all in time.
With the initial engineering push behind me, I’m starting through 100 Days of Visual UI Design. This’ll involve me spiraling back through the Shift Nudge UI design course I recently completed. It’s good to get back into more visual design after so much emphasis on conversational UI.
My mental health is, all said, much better. My little war on anxiety hasn’t been a complete success, but I’ve been playing more, learning more, reading more, and all outdoors. (Spring allergies aside, the weather is doing a lot to help!) Good vibes all around.
It’s been two months since I was laid off. I’ve cycled a lot of emotions, but mostly variations of anxiety.
I see anxiety in two types. There are basic anxieties around whether I’ll be able to provide for myself and my family—food, drink, shelter, and clothing. But there’s also the neurotic anxieties, fueled by social comparison, status anxiety, perfectionism, and [insert general complaint about neo-liberal capitalism/modernity here].
In the past few months, I’ve gone through several job interviews—mainly focused on breaking out of the agency and voice UI worlds, into the SaaS or marketplace product and web/mobile UI worlds. In applying, I’ve realized I’m deficient in several key areas, fueling that status anxiety. Am I good? Am I wanted? (Is AI going to take all my future jobs away?!)
But the past few weeks have lent me some clarity. My anxiety is not yet about clothing and shelter—I’m lucky, with enough of a safety net where I can pause. I can take time to explore my options and re-skill myself properly; make connections and network in a non-desperate kind-of-way; and breathe before plunging back into the anxiety system that is the modern job market.
So I’ve decided to declare war on neurotic and status anxieties. I’m still working each day, practicing design and applying to jobs occasionally. But I’m also playing—playing with code, design, writing, type. And cooking more, running, and messing around on the guitar.
My main project is this revamped portfolio. I’ve been wanting to redesign my portfolio in good, old-fashioned code and make it a place where I can share my work and my writing on my terms. And working on it these past few weeks? It’s been a dream. Design is fun again.