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.