At the start of June, I spent 8.5 hours trapped in a toilet room, overnight, with a cat, in Paris. Very long story and I’m sure you have so many questions. So I published the story on Medium in case you want to hear what actually happened.

Everyone keeps asking me, “how did you not freak out, how did you not get claustrophobic?” … because the toilet room was about the size of an airplane toilet.

In stressful situations, instead of freaking out, I always try to stay calm. I guess maybe it’s the UX designer in me — assessing the problem, understanding the context, and formulating a solution.

As I sat there in the toilet room with a cat on my lap, I considered the worst case scenario. I find that when I know the worst that can happen, I can mentally prepare for that. Once I remove as many of the unknowns as possible, I can deal with whatever’s happening!

So, I calculated how long I might end up trapped based on when I thought people might notice I was missing. 15 hours, worst case. Once I had that in mind, it was a mental waiting game.

After reflecting on this, it reminds me of how important it is to avoid staying in a state of unknown for too long. See, I can tie anything back to product development and design.

Too many teams remain in a state of unknown for too long.

When you’re creating a new product or exploring a new feature, yes, you’re in a state of unknown. But, eventually you have to put a stake in the ground. You have to stop spending time wondering what might happen and instead, make some assumptions and decisions so you can focus your energy and move forward.

Otherwise, your mind will continue to play “what if” games and that is exhausting, not to mention distracting to your team members.

Is your team stuck in the unknown? Are you spending too much time debating the unknown? To move forward, you must make a decision and consider, what’s the worst that can actually happen?

This week, get out of the unknown so you can start moving forward, making, building, and ultimately testing your assumptions so that you can learn, tweak, and repeat.