I’ve been maintaining inbox zero consistently for the past few months. The solution for me has been to create better inboxes. There are four consistent actions that I personally see with my email: schedule it on my calendar, put it on my to-do list, read it later, or archive it.
The Calendar Inbox
I use a combination of Google Cal to input my events and iCal to output all my calendars (Personal, Work, Girlfriend) in one view. Once I’ve converted the email into a calendar event, I quickly archive it.
The To-Do Inbox
I currently use the Any.Do app because I find the location-based and time-based reminders very useful. Once I’ve converted the email into a to-do item, I quickly archive it.
Read/Watch Later Inbox
I use Pocket because its easy to input content and outputs to all my devices (laptop, iPad, iPhone). Pocket also holds the edge over other ‘read-later’ apps because filtering between articles, videos, images, and self-inputed tags is much easier and enjoyable. And once I convert the email into a reading item, you guessed it, I quickly archive it.
How to Archive it Quickly
If you are a Gmail user, I highly recommend getting use to a few hotkeys. Go to Settings/Labs/Custom keyboard shortcuts. Enable that badboy and get familiar with ‘j’ as up, ‘k’ as down, ‘x’ to select, and ‘e’ to archive.
Hope this has been helpful!
I am proud to announce that I will be joining the Neo NYC team as their UX Designer starting this week. The process of getting to this position has been very interesting and has revealed many great lessons. Some of which I would love to share with you in this post.
Thanks for reading! And I will be sure to deliver more updates as I continue into this exciting new opportunity in my life.
This was my first experience working with a full product team. And if any of you try to harm them, I will cut you.
I had a friend named Arnold in grade school who was the funniest person I knew. His sense of humor and child-like wonder was unique amongst the teen angst, rage, and pre-pubescent discomfort our peers faced in those days. On our high school graduation day, I knew that I was never going to find another Arnold ever again in my life. But during college, I met Edwin who quickly became my new Arnold. Not in the sense that they resembled each other in any way but that they were such unique and wonderful characters. One could not replace the other but from that day on, I was always on the search for my next Arnold.
In a similar manner, this is how I perceive my current product team members. I have been able to learn so much by working with them and tackling problems with them. By the effort of our back-end developer, I was introduced to Agile which has revolutionized my view on product development. I kept begging him to find ways for me as the interaction designer to be able to deliver points but they were reserved as a unit of measurement exclusively for developers’ to estimate their work. That was until our project manager illustrated the benefits of the Lean product development methodology that I found a new framework to define my role for the team. The team has continually encouraged my growth as a designer and has many times challenged my ideas and solutions without compromise. After working with this group, I see the truth in James Shore’s words when he writes:
Almost every challenge in building great software is, in some way, a people problem. That challenge may be communicating effectively, dealing with the unpredictability of moods and motives, or figuring out how to harness people’s desire to do the right thing for the team and the project. Few problems are solely technical. Agile methods put people and their interactions at the center of all decisions. How can we best work together? How can we communicate effectively? Successful software projects must address these questions.
So before you address the target segment for your product, realize that the first people you are going to have to work with is the product team. They are the ones who will work beyond the role of a cog. They are the ones that will inspire song. They are the Arnolds that you will be searching for for the rest of your life.
UVP / An open, social platform to discover and share great local events.
Role / Interaction Designer, Visual Designer, Coffee-fetcher
Responsibilities / Retrieve valuable feedback from target users to identify the core problems the GEL product is solving. Sketch and wireframe features for solution interviews with users. Maintain style guide of creative assets. Deliver final UI designs and user-flows to development team.
Lesson Learned / The Lean and Agile methodologies are pivotal in setting up a product team for success. Narrowing the focus and fiercely prioritizing features are key in creating a successful product. Be empathetic to the users. If you are nervous to test your product in front of users, you are most likely protecting your grand idea rather than creating the strongest solution for their problem. Working with a skillful, humble, user-minded team is the foundation to any great product.
Feel free to request an invite for the beta launch and see the product for yourself.
UVP / A mailer that joins Flavorpill with other culturally connected brands to offer great contests, giveaways, and experiences to our subscribers.
Role / Visual Designer, Front-end Developer
Responsibilities / Design and develop a captivating email product that will drive interest to Flavorpill’s curatorial voice and to the partner brands. Make it cross-client and cross-browser compatible.
Lesson Learned / You thought you knew your front-end business learning html and css but say hello to tables and Outlook! Consider how email products translate to mobile devices because a growing number of users are viewing emails on their phones and tablets.
As I made the transition from visual design to interaction design there were many important things I had to grasp. First and foremost, I had to understand the concept of iterative development. As a visual designer working primarily with print, there was a definite sense of finality to projects. Every design student knows the fear of watching their Illustrator composition crawling out of an enormous industrial printer on expensive glossy paper as they pray to the Bauhaus gods that there isn’t a mistake. This fear drove the habit of pixel perfection.
When I started at Flavorpill, I quickly noticed I couldn’t produce web assets at a fast enough pace for our product team. My pixel perfectionism was becoming a bottle-neck and consuming far too much valuable time. After adopting Lean and Agile into our workflow, I noticed a fundamental difference between print design and web design. For print the final product is static, for web the final product is in a constant state of evolution. This was the answer to why I couldn’t keep up with the pace before. I had to learn how to design in the context of “what’s best for now?” instead of “what’s best forever?” knowing that I would have opportunities to enhance the design over time.
Early in my transition to interaction design, my process was raw, undeveloped, and very inefficient. You could still see pixel perfectionism creeping into the process.
Yes, those are fully designed photoshop mocks printed out, pinned on a wall, and threaded together. My coworkers said I looked like a mad man and I can’t deny that every UX professional would have agreed. With consultation from Jeff Gothelf, Ash Maurya, and other industry pros, I learned to keep sketches, wireframes and user-flows lo-fi. This promoted more ideation amongst the team, more opportunities to review those ideas with users, and reduced the waste of thread, ink and most importantly, time.
I was nervous on the first day that I was tasked to conduct user interviews with the public. Ash Maurya’s blog post was a breath of fresh air during this time as he shares his similar experience. Under the section How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Talking to Customers he addresses building a frame around learning about the user problems and not pitching the product.
“The problem with starting with a pitch is that it is predicated on having knowledge about the “right” product for the customer”
This made a pivotal difference in the way I approached users outside of the building. I was empowered by the true purpose of customer development which was to help solve people’s problems. I realized that my nervousness was rooted in wanting to protect my ideas and my ego. But was that a good enough reason to not go out there and learn from the users? No!