Learning anything on your own is both freeing and challenging. It’s freeing because your time is flexible and completely yours and you can pretty much dictate your own pace. You can decide to spend as much time as needed on problem areas and maybe even focus on other goals in your life alongside. It is challenging because there is no real structure and it’s quite easy to treat your new interest like that second gym membership that you only used twice before giving up and suddenly wondering if maybe you are not quite as unfit as you thought, after all.
For me, self-learning UX has been both freeing and challenging, but over time I have begun to hack ways to reduce the challenging parts. Here’s how I make that happen:
- Include UX in your online presence
I have curated all my online spaces to include information about UX design. I now follow groups and people who share designs and design tips on twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. I get suggestions from Medium and Behance every single day that force me to think about my own design journey. Essentially, seeing so many people on my socials actually doing the work pushes me to covet their skill set and wonder when I will have learned enough to produce quality designs.
This also forces me to constantly have a perpetually open UX design tab in my brain that gently calls for my attention, despite whatever else is taking up my time. I’ve also set job alerts on LinkedIn for UX design jobs which remind me of my goal of getting all 7 certificates in my google course before seeking internships or junior designer roles.
2. Keep records of time spent learning UX
I have several notebooks where I record notes on UX design topics I’d love to return to in future. More importantly, my notes carry the dates of every day I have spent learning some aspect of UX design. Each day I learn something, writing the date in my notebook is the first thing I do. On some lazy days, the idea that the dates in my notebook will carry wide gaps is really the only thing that pushes me to continue.
3. Mix up different types of resources
To stave off boredom or “saturation,” it is important to consume as many types of related and helpful content as possible. For me, I use the course materials provided for me which include videos, literature, quizzes and practical tasks, but I also make the time to consume resources outside of the course material. I make sure to play around with Figma, watch YouTube tutorials, read articles on UXD and also take my time to study designs shared across my social media pages.
Another important part of self-learning is that you may sometimes be more prone to burnout, since on some days you do too much in a short period of time and thereafter tend to take breaks that may last for more than a couple of days, so I am also conscious of adding some level of balance to my learning pace. It’s important to be consistent so as not to lose focus or momentum but also make room to relax or go over problem areas.
So far, my UX design journey is much slower than I hoped it would be, but it remains interesting and makes up a sizable chunk of my thoughts, for which I remain grateful. I’m on course 4 of 7 with a few wireframes and lo-fi prototypes under my belt and a sustained motivation to build hi-fidelity screens soon.