A question I’ve had on my mind throughout the past few months is: how do I carve out my own space? How can I make an impact in my own, unique way? Although it’s clear that collaboration is key to making great design happen, carving out your own space allows you to focus on your passions and can give you breathing room to bring them to life.
Here are a few tips I have that have helped me to carve out my own space:
1. Listen to your instincts
If you feel you’re not gaining traction on what you’re currently doing, stop and reassess. Is this something I should be working on? Can I make this my own? Does this excite me? How can I reframe the problem in a way that is motivating to my own trajectory as a designer? If we evaluate, at a basic level, the problem and try to align it with our values or things we care about, then we have a much greater chance of making our own unique impact on the problem.
2. Don’t get territorial
Some designers “horde” their ideas, and want to own a particular interaction or feature so that they put their mark on the product. Fair enough. But if other people on the team want to work on the same problem, then ask how they are going about solving it and see if they are approaching it in the same way. Also, seek role clarity from your manager or PM - they might have a different idea on your role on the project.
3. Ask for feedback frequently
Carving out your own space doesn’t mean going off into a corner somewhere and hiding your work. Rather, it’s about showing your work and being quick to get feedback so that you can iterate further. Carving out your space doesn’t only need to be an individual, solitary activity, others can lift you up to make your own mark. Be open to their feedback.
4. Take a break, meditate
It’s difficult to create your own space without clarity on your role or a clear idea on where you want to be. If you want to carve out your own space but don’t know how - take a weekend off and do something else that you love. Clear your mind, meditate. For a good introduction on how meditation can help provide clarity, read Dan Harris's book 10% Happier.