Are You Stuck In Research Mode? - Sarah Doody
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Are You Stuck In Research Mode?

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One of the reasons why I love user experience so much is because it involves solving a lot of problems. One thing I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is:

It doesn’t matter how you get to the conclusion – you just need to get there.

When we’re trying to solve a problem, there isn’t one way to approach it. In the end, the most important thing is that we solve it.

Now of course, I’m talking about all this in the context of design and creativity where there can be a lot of gray areas. You see, I’ve noticed a trend in the types of questions people ask me. Recently, a lot of people been telling me: I feel stuck because when I sit down to start a project, I don’t know what methodology to use.

Is it possible that in UX design we’ve reached a point of methodology-itis? A lot of designers have said to me that a big challenge they have when learning about UX is the sheer overload of information that is out there – sometimes conflicting information.

Has the toolbox of a user experience designer become filled with too many tools? Is too much confidence being put in tools and activities, and as a result, decreasing the confidence in their own abilities to problem solve in whatever manner they deem to be logical?

So what’s a designer to do? How do you start if you don’t even know what to start with?

My current thinking is that we need to focus less on the methodology and more on the outcome. What do I mean by that? Maybe we need to spend less time agonizing on what type of methodology we’ll use and more time just thinking logically about the problem we’re solving and what activities could be done to solve that problem or execute that project.

This translates to everyday life too. How many times do you intend to do something but then get caught in research mode, and never really actually just starting?! We waste hours in research mode. Research mode provides a false sense of output and progress.

Now don’t get me wrong, research is important. But at some point you have to step away from research and exploration mode – and just take action.

I’m totally guilty of letting myself get trapped in research mode – tricking myself into thinking I’m making progress. Honestly, I did this with a project I’m working on right now. To try and break this habit, when I open up a browser tab and start to do research, I set a timer on my iPhone for 35 minutes. By giving myself a set amount of time – it seems to be helping me not get trapped in research mode.

What can you do this week to take action and get out of research, or maybe procrastination, mode?

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