How I Overcame Procrastination as a Product Designer

Posted January 7, 2019 Emmanuel Ogunsola

I have always said I will design more products in my free time but never got around doing much. To tackle this ongoing issue I read articles by other product designers on how they dealt with improving their skills. One article on by Elaine Tran titled ‘3 rapid prototyping exercises to improve your UX skills’ inspired me. I decided to challenge myself to develop and design 10 products in 10 days with a daily deliverable of a prototype to be shared on social media.

Initially, I thought I wouldn’t finish the challenge because I have done such in the past and didn’t finish but the social media side of it meant I had to be accountable. To help with the #10DaysProductDev challenge I decided daily on a minimum viable product that addressed issues in different sectors. The goal of the challenge was to improve majorly on how fast I could deliver as a Product Designer. But I definitely improved on so many other areas.

Disclaimer: I was working remotely from home for those 10 days of the challenge and I didn’t have very crucial deliverables.

To face the mountain I created for myself I had daily guides that I engaged. The four things I considered everyday for the challenge are the problem, possible solutions, possible impact of solution and product constraints. Under product constraints I considered the available technology, environment to be deployed and multiple use cases. There are several articles online that addresses most of the best practic

es for product development. The purpose of this article is to point out key things that helped me achieve success with this challenge.

The Problem as Questions

Defining a problem is the ultimate goal that took a lot of internal conversation with self and external conversations with few friends because of time constraints. For each day I came up with a question to serve as the problem to tackle.

These are the questions:

Day 01 — Is it possible to have a mobile personal assistant that can help keep track of tasks?

Day 02 — Mentorship is time consuming and sometimes mentees don’t get quality help from the mentor due to several other mentees demanding attention. Can we provide a more controlled experience that allows mentors determine the rules of engagement and limit the number of people they mentor over a period of time?

Day 03 — Can a low-middle class Nigerian buy real estate with monthly/daily contribution?

Day 04 — Learning online via Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) has taken education beyond the walls of schools but most rural communities in African countries cannot use MOOCs due to little/no access to the internet and electricity. How can we solve this challenge?

Day 05 — The supply of electricity is rationed in Nigeria because power generated isn’t enough to provide uninterrupted electricity nationwide. Electricity generation isn’t improving anytime soon can we make this experience better for Nigerians?

Day 06/07 — Musicians have relied on several platforms to help sell their art. Is there a way we can give control back to the musician on fan control, music sale, concert sales, music streams and so on?

Day 08/09 — Getting sponsors for orphans can be difficult for orphanages. Can we provide a platform to help individuals or organisations sponsor orphans from the comfort of their smartphones?

Day 10 — iROKOTV just like Netflix is a streaming platform that allows users download movies from the internet or via agents to watch on smartphones, tablets and PCs. But reaching more people without good internet to stream or download movies is still an issue. Is it possible to deliver movies to Nigerians without internet access to stream/download?

Solution and Possible Impact

Considering the challenge was daily and I didn’t have the luxury of the entire day to tackle the problem highlighted I iterated very fast using sketches on my notepad. The winning ideas had to be scalable beyond the community or region it was created for. Also, usability was a key requirement while socio-economic importance was the final metric considered.

Stop and Move On!

The danger of working on a certain product feature longer than expected is always a battle. For most features I came up with I implemented them in my sketches and allowed a second eye to judge it’s usefulness. This helped me strip the products of unnecessary or better still fancy features that would have required extra time to implement. I had to bury my artistic ego a lot of times during the challenge and focus on what was left of each product after some preliminary user testing of wireframes.

For the prototypes, I focused on developing the essential parts of the products that properly communicated what it was all about and left the peripherals for later development.

Another issue I was faced with was moving on after uploading the prototype for the day’s exercise while my brain was still brooding over it. On the second day of the challenge, I reworked the first prototype I posted the day before and I felt bad afterwards.

My solution was to close my laptop after each challenge, get some fresh air and get engaged with random activities that weren’t related to the challenge. Basically, I slept each day not thinking of the challenge. This sincerely was a difficult daily experience. The next day came with new ideas for previous products worked on but I had to discipline myself by penning them down and focusing on the day’s challenge.

In the coming days I will be sharing more details on each product I designed during the 10 days challenge. If you have also gone through a similar experience I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *