Amlan Sarkar

How to keep UX burnout at bay?

What is a burnout?

Have you ever experienced a total lack of interest in something you worked on intensely for days? It happens so often in one’s life. After putting in efforts through days and nights, you succeed in creating something very dear to your heart. In doing so, you sometimes become so fatigued that you may feel a total loss of interest over the work you were so passionate about till the other day. Such an apathetic state of mind is what is called ‘burnout’ in technical parlance. Such impassiveness can occur in every sphere of our lives. The field of UX is no exception.

When we are too passionately involved in our work, the resultant hectic activities may take a toll on our body and mind. We can get rid of the physical fatigue with ample rest. However, it requires a lot of effort to free ourselves from the mental fatigue.

Why are UX designers susceptible to burnout?

The field of user experience is a creative one. To launch a User Interface Application successfully, a creative instinct, coupled with a systematic approach, is needed. As UX designers, we go through many steps before finally releasing our intended product or application. Due to the frantic engagement of our mind and body towards the completion of the targeted task, a time comes when our mind can no longer respond to the call of further work. Such a phenomenon is called ‘UX Burnout’. You have to take some remedial measures to get rid of the sluggish mindset. To understand the probable remedies, let’s explore UX burnout further.

Remedies to avoid UX burnout

There is a perceptual difference between burnout in general and burnout in the UX field. Generally, the word burnout is applied to refer to a creative block that happens when you run out of energies and ideas. UX design is a complex process that requires a never-ending stream of creative ideas and an extensive range of skill sets. The complete focus of your work revolves around the perspective of your user. The UX design process is a perpetual cycle. According to the distinguished designer Neville Brody, “Digital design is like a painting, except the ink never dries.” The intensity involved with such a design process is sometimes too exhausting. At times, it almost resembles a roller coaster ride. We, while working at Team Codesign, have identified various possible reasons for UX burnout. Enlisted below are tried and tested research-backed remedial measures to get through them:

  • The Timeboxing Technique
    To create a highly successful UX design, you need to understand the essence of that particular design. For this, you need to focus your energies on paying attention to all stakeholders. The process can get tiresome. You require a great deal of vigor to pick up the essentials of the job you are working on. This could leave you emotionally drained. To avoid emotional drainage, you can use the timeboxing technique.

    The process of UX design is long and complicated. UX designing is like a marathon race. The constant iteration cycles cause frustration in the long run. It sometimes gives a feeling of stagnancy as if you are constantly spinning a wheel and still going nowhere. However, you cannot avoid iteration as it helps you in visualizing the design comprehensively. Observation and research reveal that people cannot concentrate for more than 40 minutes at a stretch. Taking frequent periodic breaks helps you to rejuvenate and refresh your mind. This will help you to clear your thoughts and improve your focus and productivity. This method of breaking up your time into chunks is known as the ‘timeboxing technique’.
  • Break The Routine
    Everyone needs to follow standard procedures and practices to maintain a precise routine of work. Although these strictly regimented plans of work are indispensable for the successful outcome of UX design, it has a subduing effect on the creative process. Maintaining strict discipline and following a regimented schedule of work for a long time can affect the cognitive faculties of UX designers. Routines sometimes act as spoilsports in the field of creativity. It is advisable to sometimes break free from the monotony of maintaining a rigorous routine.

    UX designers must change their routines periodically. This helps in altering the way of approaching the scheduled task thereby resulting in increased cognitive flexibility. As a result, they will be able to focus on their work which in turn will help improve productivity.
  • Use Collaboration To Avoid Information Overload
    As a UX designer, you collect and process huge amounts of data. The enormity of data can be mind-boggling. Such an accumulation of data is called information overload and can be solved with the power of collaboration. It gives you the much-needed insight from another perspective, clearing your mind from confusion.
  • Steal Your Way Out Of Idea Paralysis
    Sometimes it so happens that you run out of ideas. When a situation like this happens and you cannot come up with any original idea, the immediate instinct is to copy. Austin Cleon, the distinguished author, and designer said in his book ‘Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative’, “Everything is a remix. Start copying what you love. Copy copy copy copy. At the end of the copy, you will find yourself.”  

    What Austin meant was that our creativity is the result of our collective effort. Everything in the world is created from something we have seen before. For example, we often come across designs that are inspired from nature. Therefore by exploring the things we love, we inspire ourselves to create our own versions of it, stealing like an artist.
  • Do Away With Your Need For Perfection
    According to an adage ‘perfect is the enemy of done.’ Good design goes unnoticed by the average user, but it is all that UX designers see. As a designer, it is important to understand the key details that will actually impact the user experience. You need to set aside your ego and apprehension about the quality of your work and move forward with understanding your users choices.

You need to remember that burnout is nature’s way of telling you to take a break and relax. Be kind to yourself. The best remedy to cure UX burnout is to unplug yourselves for a while.

How do you deal with creative blocks and burnouts?