Every so often someone will surprise & delight me with their honesty.

Today, a friend dropped me a message to say she’d enjoyed reading my blog posts but using my writing as an accountability tool “hasn’t quite worked, has it?”.

Her comment genuinely made me laugh out loud as I’d just put a focussed couple of hours into the project for the first time in a little while. Although I was glad I had, I was also feeling a bit guilty about not writing on this blog recently.

Apparently, this accountability thing might work better when there are humans involved.

Where did it start to slip?

The past month or so has been strange, to say the least. For most people, I imagine, the lethal global pandemic we’re currently dealing with has changed daily life considerably.

I’ve been fortunate that I’ve been working from home since November last year, so am well setup technically, and used to a daily routine that involves a 10 step commute to the spare room to start work.

Up until a few weeks ago, I was using the time I save on commuting and ironing shirts to put an hour or so into the app challenge each day.

Around the same time, I’d been putting my original sketches into the design software Sketch.

After getting the majority of the pages for the mobile app version of the project in Sketch, I started work on prototyping with a tool called Proto.io.

Soon after, everything crawled to a halt. Or specifically, I did.

I didn’t want to write about the struggle I was having to keep going, as it was mostly caused by an old pattern of critical self-talk: “There’s too much to think about, you can’t do this”, “You’re not good enough to make this work”, “Why bother, it’s never going to happen” and so-on.

When that inner-critic voice has had my attention in the past, it’s had some serious power to stop me in my tracks. I’m also aware that only starts with me handing it permission to.

Controlling the inner-critic

Over the years when dealing with the inner-self-critic, I’ve realised that the best way to keep it in check is to simply acknowledge it’s there, and doing the original task anyway - trying to keep the judgement to a minimum.

However, after a little more (read: waaaaay too much) procrastination, I decided to switch to using another piece of design software called Figma.

Because it’s obviously the tools that are at fault, right?

As it happens switching the tool has really increased my productivity, as I’ve used Figma in a couple of professional roles more recently than Sketch. Thankfully Figma also opens files created in Sketch, so the switch was pretty painless.

I’m now able to design & prototype in the same place and am finding that my thoughts and focus are on simplifying and getting to the earliest testable product as soon as possible.

The inner-critic is still there at times, but it doesn’t seem to be as big and scary as it was before.

Getting back on track

I’ve booked in a chat later this week with my lovely friend who kicked off this post. She’s done a lot of work on accountability & balancing priorities in her businesses, so I’m looking forward to finding out more of her thoughts.

The design work is also nearing the point where the prototype is ready to get into the hands of real people - I’ve pared it back to only the simple core functionality, keeping mind that there is always room to improve and add more features in the future.