As a product designer I always pride myself on building functional and usable products, but in the process I often forget that the products that I build should be delightful as well.

While we can train ourselves and use our rational thought process to create functional and usable products, adding delight requires us to build within us a sense of curiosity and wonder.

And every once in a while I have to remind myself to reconnect with this beginner’s mind. Here are some tips that have helped me reconnect with, and revive my sense of curiosity and wonder. I hope they will be of help to you too.

1. Read regularly 

If possible, do this on a daily basis and have a regular time for it. Maybe a half hour break during the day or at night before going to bed. Whatever you decide, the more you read, the more your grey matter will be exercised and the more your creative juices will flow. Personally I choose the books I wish to read at the start of the year and then start a Goodreads Challenge to make sure that I get through them. This year, in the time I saved on my daily commute, I managed to run through books pretty fast. Here’s a list of books I have read this year.

2. Open your mind to learning

As creators, we should all be life-long learners. The moment we stop learning, we stop growing. There are so many opportunities for us to learn – from Coursera to Youtube, and multiple podcasts and blogs. Do not limit yourself to design or technology alone. There is a lot one can learn from fields like Psychology and even Philosophy. My favourite course on Coursera is Buddhism and Modern Psychology run by Princeton University and it combines both fields.

3. Become a wonder-sponge

Never stop noticing things around you. Become a ‘noticer’ yourself and spread the wonder around you. One tip around this is to keep a daily journal. And if you are an artist, a sketchbook is a wonderful tool.

4. Question everything

There is nothing called a stupid question. Don’t be afraid to ask. Maybe the answer is simple, but you will always end up learning. As an ancient Malayali saying puts it “Poyal oru vakku, kittiyal oru mala” 

5. Maintain a healthy body and healthy mind

Do not neglect your body and mind with the excuse that you are working too hard. Eat well, exercise and get enough rest and relaxation. Creativity cannot flourish in an abused container.

6. Reconnect with nature

Finally, remember that nature is the ultimate muse. Every once in a while, take a three day retreat that disconnects you from dopamine-inducing devices and connects you with nature. I tend to overdo this and take a ten day meditation retreat every year. This helps rekindle the curiosity and creativity within me.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Loved the Poyal oru vakku, kittiyal oru mala. If If what you ask isn’t granted you waste a few words. If you are granted your wish then you get a mountain. Sharing my personal experience that its hard to do at first but once you stop taking rejection personally it can be the best thing you do for yourself, especially as a young professional. I’ve heard lots of ‘no’ but the few ‘yes’ have been life-changing

  2. Is there any way to prioritise or pick one or two of the five? Or a suggestion about which one to get started with and then maybe expand slowly? I have a feeling if I start a book challenge and meditation and a daily journal I will abort all three quickly 🙁

    • It’s all about setting the right habit. Start small and see what is the one habit you want to stop and replace with another. For example, I listen to audio books while walking, this helps me combine two of the tasks above. Meditation is not easy and something that has taken me decades to cultivate. The main thing is not to let small obstacles ruin the habit… Atomic Habits by James Clear is a great resource to develop the habits you want.

  3. Would like to share my personal method of being a wonder-sponge. My problem was that during a busy day I would never have time to make note of things and by the time I got home, I wd hv forgotten all the things I wanted to journal. Now when I see something, I take a photo or a screenshot, add to Pocket and then spend a couple of hrs on the weekend journalling the entries.

  4. TBH when I first saw this I was like – why is THC allowing listicles. But thinking about it, I feel this tells you that staying creative is not that hard, if you consistently do a few simple things.

  5. The Qs everything part comes down to company culture doesn’t it? And your ability to influence that as a practitioner or leader. I’d love to hear about which big companies in India allow one to question freely, without fear of being labelled ‘argumentative.’ or ‘difficult.’ If you are a woman, then the stakes are multiplied by x

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