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Work-Life Balance and Dealing with Burnout as a UX Designer

A person holding sheets of papers with a tired face
How UX designer can win the battle against burnout

This is a topic you are probably familiar with because it comes up in every organization and career path. Notwithstanding, how do you manage it in the UI/UX space? Does your personal life suffer as a result of your job? How do you handle it if so? If not, do you simply find one that’s less stressful, or do you have safeguards in place? Do you have a strategy like; working hard now in the hopes of easing up on the accelerator pedal in a future role or are you just taking it day by day? These are questioning a lot of people want answers to and we’ll discuss them shortly in this article.

As of 2016, Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) had put UX design career among the top 10 with work-life balance, as well as UI design. But what do they mean by work-life balance exactly? This is simply the ratio of time spent on work duties to time spent doing what you enjoy or is important to you as well. Like; family, socializing, friends, travel, hobbies, and simply relaxing.

Many of us work 8-10 hours a day, sometimes work from home, and spend our free time not with friends and hobbies, but with self-development and skill improvement. You could be nearing burnout and considering changing jobs. So, how do you handle the Work-Life Balance in this situation? It starts by recognizing when you are nearing burnout and below are a few of those ways.

Here's how to recognize a burnout in the moment.

The symptoms of burnout include feelings of cynicism, detachment, and loss of motivation, decreased energy levels, and decreased job satisfaction. Let's discuss what constitutes burnout. It is a work-related attitude that wears one out emotionally and physically. You can describe it as perfectionism amplified by hyper-responsibility. Several aspects of being a UX designer can lead to a burnout, some of which are;

Forms of burnout

  1. Uncertainty regarding the project's results.

  2. Uncertainty about the end of the job. UX design involves countless iterative cycles, a process that theoretically never ends.

  3. Inability to respond to design criticism, especially if you lack expertise and tend to take things personally.

  4. High stakes. When a project's budget is so large that it is mentally exhausting.

  5. Using subjective criteria to assess a UX designer's work.

  6. Far too much obligation. In order to appeal to a large and dynamic audience, UX designers must develop solutions.

  7. Inadequate feedback or evaluations.

  8. Exaggerated client or team expectations.

  9. A lack of knowledge of your task and position within the project, or both.

  10. The danger of emotional burnout is significantly higher for UX designers who started the field later in life or an unexpected changed like relocating or losing family support.

How can a full-time UX designer stay productive and prevent burnout?

You're lucky if the members of your team are familiar with UX design. Because they allow you time to study user behavior and rely on the outcomes of your testing. But that has become increasingly common to have to go through modifications, adjust to fresh solutions, cease working on one research project, and then start another right away. So how can burnout be avoided in this circumstance?

First, you have to relieve yourself of part of the burden. You need to be aware that you are a part of a team. And it's not just you who is accountable if something fails or goes wrong. Individuals, concepts, and objects are all connected in the end. The key to quality in general is the integrity of the connections.

You also have to make significant changes. If you work on a team where no one cares about users' needs, meaning usability tests aren't done, you'll have to choose between taking on additional responsibilities or looking for work elsewhere. However, there is a third choice; fundamentally alter everything. Since good design needs to be innovative and transformative if it is to be sustainable and socially responsive.

If you feel that your level of commitment in the project is waning and that your energy is evaporating, use the time-boxing strategy. When using the task list technique known as "time-boxing," you allocate a specific amount of time—referred to as a "time-box"—of 30, 40, or 50 minutes to finish specific tasks.

Boxing gloves and a timer

If you find that you are overburdened with information, brainstorm. Give other team members certain tasks to complete.

Take a walk to get away from burnout. Successful people like Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, Mark Zuckerberg, and others would go for daily walks to help them think creatively and come up with new ideas. Additionally, a Stanford University study revealed that both before and after taking a walk increases a person's creativity and ingenuity. So go for a walk if you're feeling gloomy, apathetic, or without any inspiration.

Tips for achieving work-life balance

Time management strategies: Effective time management strategies, such as prioritizing tasks, delegating responsibilities, and avoiding multitasking, can help UX designers to achieve a better work-life balance.

Setting boundaries: Setting clear boundaries between work and personal life, such as not checking emails outside of work hours, can help UX designers to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Prioritizing self-care: Taking care of oneself, including getting enough sleep, exercise, and healthy eating, can help UX designers to maintain their physical and mental health and avoid burnout.

Two people stretching

Encouraging team support: Encouraging a supportive and collaborative team environment can help UX designers to feel supported and motivated, reducing the risk of burnout.

Practical Steps to Find Work-Life Balance?

Try these practical steps to avoid burnout at work and achieve work-life balance:

  1. Create a weekly and monthly itinerary in advance, including slots for holidays, social gatherings, travel, sports, doctor's appointments, and self-improvement.

  2. Plan your breaks in cycles:

    • Never accept a new job unless you feel refreshed, every day.

    • A weekend off from work happens once per week!

    • Once a month, a joyful occasion (trip, event, master class).

    • A complete vacation is taken once a year.

3. Decide what is important and urgent, what is important but not urgent, what is urgent but not important, and what is not urgent but also not important.

  1. Focus on challenging activities when you're most productive.

  2. Arrange my workstation to make it as cozy and functional as feasible.

  3. Give sports the same importance as a team rally. In other words, avoid skipping a workout or a run merely because a client demands results for yesterday.

  4. Utilize time-tracking tools so that you can easily see how long a given job takes, avoid wondering what you have been working on all day and why there are no results.

  5. Pursuing your passions. This is about interests rather than work.

  6. Taking breaks throughout the day or switching challenging jobs with easy ones.

  7. Face your weaknesses and worries while working on your own growth.

In conclusion

As a UX designer, it's essential you have a good work-life balance to be productive, creative, and motivated. However, the fast-paced and constantly changing nature of the UX design industry can lead to burnout, affecting both personal and professional life. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is crucial for you as it helps you to avoid burnout and ensures that you continue to be creative, innovative, and productive. Because burnout can lead to decreased motivation, decreased productivity, and decreased job satisfaction.

By using effective time management strategies, setting boundaries, prioritizing self-care, and seeking professional help when needed, you can maintain your physical, emotional and mental well-being, and continue to be creative, innovative, and productive.

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