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Lesson #8 in Interaction Design: When what you’re doing isn’t working, do something different

Lesson #8: When what you’re doing isn’t working, do something different.

Allison Shaw, Class of 2012

I call working on a problem until I “get it right” (whatever “right” is) “brute-forcing the problem.” This process costs a lot of time, yields poor results, and is beyond frustrating.

When I fall into this pattern, it’s time to do something different. I take a break. Going for a walk is a good bet, but so is getting a solid night of sleep. Then, when it’s time to start working again, I move to a different medium—usually a pen and paper, since studies have shown how working with pen and paper activates the human brain. But whatever medium you choose to work in, make it a different medium than the original. Pausing your work will give your subconscious a chance to catch up and make new connections, while different mediums provide different frameworks for thinking—two major ingredients for finding solutions.

Allison Shaw is a UI Designer at Yelp, San Francisco, CA, USA.

This post is part of an ongoing series this month.

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