5 steps to designing your life

How to be strategic and apply UX tools and methods to our own lives

We have effective UX methods and tools we use to design for users, why not use them on ourselves? Can we apply UX tools to our own lives?

The short answer is ‘Yes.'

This article is about applying some simple user experience techniques and design thinking methods that are typically used to build new products and services, to your life. I encourage you to be as hands-on as possible.

Grab a pen and paper. Get some Post-its. Find a whiteboard and some markers. Use whatever tools you have at your disposal. Don’t feel constrained to just written words. Draw pictures, diagrams, stick figures, sketches, or whatever you feel most comfortable working in.

1 - Create a map of your past.

Write down your journey through life. Record events, thoughts, feelings, people, jobs, education, friends, and enemies. Sketch out or write down who you really are. Create your own timeline.

You can do this visually by sketching, or you can simply write down bullet points.

2 - Deconstruct and analyse to create a persona that is consistent and coherent with your current self.

You can codify your life using concepts that make the most sense to you, for example:

  • family, friends, and work
  • emotions, intelligence, and physical activity
  • weekends and weekdays

It doesn’t matter how others would segment the different parts of their life, just use what makes the most sense to you. Don’t feel constrained; you can build a model of your life in any way you like. The key here is to start noticing trends and patterns. You should have a map of your past and your own persona. Now it's time to focus on a future state.

3 — Write down your values and goals.

Your values guide you in the right direction and your goals are the things you want to achieve. You can write down as many as you want, but if a goal you choose isn’t aligned with a value you hold, then you have to choose which one to keep on the list. For example, if your value is staying healthy and your goal is to eat 50 hamburgers in a week you will have to choose which one to keep.

Now, prioritize and then circle you top five goals. Those are the only ones that count (if you less than five, then just take the ones you’ve written down).

Throw the rest of your goals away. Avoid them.

Like Warren Buffet’s 2 list strategy, this will help you focus on your most important goals.

Everything you didn’t circle just became your ‘avoid at all cost list’. No matter what, these things get no attention from you until you’ve succeeded with your top 5.

4 - Draw out your vision map of the future.

Write down, sketch or mind map your future 'life customer journey'. Record the ways that you can achieve your top 5 goals. If you’re not sure how you can achieve one or more of them, map out the way you can discover a way to achieve your goals. Map out possible risks, opportunities, timelines, people, and places. Start from the present and finish at a point where all top 5 goals are achieved.

This step is about laying the groundwork toward completing your goals. Before doing this exercise your goals and actions were misaligned. They were divergent. By visually mapping out your future self and aligning your current self toward a trajectory to achieving those goals, you have convergence.

If we think of our lives as a design project where we can sketch out, deconstruct, reconstruct, and act upon the things we do.

5 - Iterate.

Life is not static. Variables will change, as will your goals and aspirations. Be sure to revisit your life journey and iterate your future story based on new understanding of the world. This repeated behavior is part of the design thinking process, the ability to understand, ideate, hypothesize, and execute in a fast and iterative manner. Use these tools to improve and take hold of your life.

What UX tools and methods can you think of that would be useful for being strategic in life? Leave a comment or send us a tweet to @theuxblog and tell us what you think.