Force-multiply your output

As a UX researcher, are you experiencing burnout in pandemic times? Here’s how to get the fire roaring in the belly again for surplus output.

Burnouts can happen to anyone, anytime. But the pandemic-induced stress, lack of socialization, and domestic responsibilities have added to the woes and compounded the misery of UX researchers.

Identifying the problem is the first logical step to finding the solution. It helps to recognize the symptom of burnout. The symptoms can range from loss of motivation to boredom, lack of sleep to reduced performance, and fatigue. Frustration, anger, helplessness, procrastination are other tell-tale signs that the situation has spiraled out of control. You need to get the handle back and find your footing again.

You may experience all these mind-numbing effects together. You also may suffer them one or a few at a time. The list is not exhaustive. There may be more. Their manifestation is variable too. These draining symptoms may last a few hours to a few days, even weeks! Your response should be timely and adequate. It may require coordination or simple mental conditioning.

The default response of negating the obvious and keep pushing the boundaries may be counter-productive. Perfectionism may have its virtues, but this is not the time for it.

Tell yourself that it is OKAY to work at sub-optimum levels. Try to plug the gaps with the help of your team. Ask for help and be willing to help others in their moments of crisis. Being gentle to your needs and slowing down can do wonders and help rediscover your moorings.

How to develop support systems?

Here’s how you can develop inter-dependent and well-coordinated work systems that favor everyone in the team.

· Rework expectations: Expect the best, but do not expect too much. Look beyond the force of habits. Try role reversals as much as possible. Make the environment more human. Change work hours; adjust them with the evolving contingencies the pandemic has forced employees to grapple with.

· Combine work with a few breaks: Remote work has made us all singularly focused on the job at hand. It has eliminated “oasis points” such as chats, quick coffee breaks, lunch hour camaraderie. These distractions, known to give a welcome respite from the monotony of work, are now amiss. But there is nothing that can stop you from meeting the colleagues you love to bond with. Book a table on weekends. Grab lunch together. Discuss things. Pore your heart over things that are bothering you.

· Open up: If you are part of a work culture that encourages employees to open up about how they feel, make use of the platform to distress yourself. Talk to your colleagues, project managers, directors. Vent your emotions to a mate who is your confidante. Bare your soul to someone you trust. These simple steps will create the magic of bonhomie and help a great deal in recharging your batteries.

· Online therapy: There are online therapies and counseling programs with psychologists that might help you get a better grip on the situation. The internet age comes with a host of problems. But online help is the pro that effectively counters the cons.

How UX researchers can overcome burnouts?

Large-scale data collections, analysis, and testing put a huge demand on one’s time and energy. That’s the nature of the job. The solutions mentioned above work fine in general, but UX professionals may resort to other solutions to overcome their mental blocks.

  • Work in time slots: Avoid successive projects without a break. Take time out to gather your thoughts, take a walk, do a session of power yoga, or grab some comfort food. Do whatever it takes to reboot the mind and body for the next climb.
  • One step at a time: Divide your work into parts and sub-parts. Take one step at a time. The feeling of a completed target is overpowering. It’s a definite mood booster and force multiplier.

· Take a vacation: Binge-watching Netflix is the easiest way to enjoy a mental break, but there is nothing like a good old adventure in the woods or a vacation to get the enthusiasm coursing through the body again. Go backpacking. It helps you interact, observe, learn. It restores the balance between mental and physical efficiencies you need to stay on top of your game.