How You Can Plan Your Goals as a UX Designer

{ 📝 } – A Practical Guide


This article was originally published on UX Designers Club.

We all know that productivity is not easy to maintain. Many distractions in our lives steal time away that could be used to work, study, or learn more about our interests.

“Attending to the new task increases the risk of an error with one or both of the tasks because the stress of the distraction or interruption causes cognitive fatigue, which leads to omissions, mental slips or lapses, and mistakes.”

— Medscape

It can be difficult to set boundaries for oneself and then adhere to them. Working as a UX designer, it’s only natural for you to want the best tools so you can plan your goals with ease.

I’ve been practicing as a UX designer for eight years. In that time, I’ve used several different tools to help me make my designs and career better. Like you, I had many different goals I wanted to accomplish.

In reality, it doesn’t matter what productivity tools you’re going to use. The major strategy for your yearly plan needs to include these important steps.

Start From the Big Goal

I want to make 2022 productive and go beyond 2021. Even though I’m very satisfied with the 2021 results, I didn’t complete all that I want. This is going to change.

The major difference I want to try this year is to create long-term goals instead of short ones. Since I started to plan everything, I saw better results. So today, it’s time for the upgrade.

Today it’s January 2nd, and I decided to plan my yearly goals. If you’re familiar with my activity you know that apart from the design, I write a lot.

I already love productivity tools and use Notion for my design tasks. Especially I love to use calendar tools to plan each day.

Among all the tools that I tried, I decided to use Weekdone. It’s a great way to start from long-term goals and finish with everyday small tasks.

Screenshot by the author.

Here you can see my goals that relate both to my personal and design writing. While it’s hard to manage many things together, I want to use planning to achieve what I want.

You can approach the same way. If you want to learn a new skill, design a product, or start a side hustle, it’s better to plan everything.

I didn’t believe in the power of planning until I tried it. When you see a daily reminder in front of your eyes, it’s pushing you to work more.

Before using this strategy I watched many YouTube videos, movies, and spent my time unproductively.

Since I started to plan my goals, I reduce watching movies and YouTube videos tremendously. Yes, I still watch movies, but I don’t spend 4–6 hours per day just for fun. Instead, I have an extra activity that gives me more joy than movies.

Pro-Tip

If you have many goals and want to achieve all of them, prioritize them and calculate how much time you can spend on each activity. If you work or learn even one hour every day, your final goals will be achieved in a year. What seems to be very slow is better than nothing.

Think About the Tasks That Lead to Your Goal

Ok, you have your big goals, my congratulations. Now it’s time to write down steps that lead to your big goals.

It’s really important to understand that you need to spend weeks or even months on your final goal and it’ll require many steps.

At the beginning of my career, I wanted to learn all the design courses that I saw. I started to watch many of them but finished a small part only The reason was my inability to plan what I needed to learn first.

I took course by course and learned many tools and skills but not until the end. To avoid my mistake, you’d better know what actions you need to perform to get to your final result.

For example, I calculated if I want to get 6k followers, I need to write 15 articles per month. Yes, it’s hard, but if I want to see the final result, I need to stick to my schedule.

Screenshot by the author.

Here is how my monthly goals look like. It’s quite similar months, but efficient.

As you can see I’m moving from a big timeframe to a smaller one. If I had a yearly goal before, now I planned every month.

You can do the same way by including steps that lead to your final goal. For example, I’ll add my design goals along with my writing ones. One of my design goals will be participating in 12 contests this year.

That being said it means I need to enter one contest every month. With my work schedule and side hustle, it seems to be realistic.

You need to plan your tasks according to your time. It doesn’t make sense if you plan one million tasks, but can’t perform them. On the other hand, you shouldn’t worry if by the end of a year you have some uncompleted tasks.

The major goal is to stimulate your productivity, and it’s fine if something is left.

To give you a quick example, I planned to have 5k followers but achieved 4.5k only. And this is fine because I almost achieved what I wanted. I did all the necessary steps to accomplish my big goal.

Pro-Tip

Think about your tasks not as obligatory, but as a way to your final goal. If you have too many goals, it’s OK. You can have a plan for a 5-year plan and include all goals. Think about your goals as a product roadmap and plan them according to your needs.

Stick to Your Weekly Plan

The final and the most important plan for your big goal is to stick to your weekly schedule. It can be so inspiring to plan all tasks. But if you can’t stick to your plan, you’ll ruin your goals.

Here is my weekly plan for my writing goals.

Screenshot by the author.

I calculated if I want to get to the 10k milestone by the end of 2022, I need to write 3.75 articles per week. This digit came from a deep analysis of my previous writing.

I also work full-time as a designer, so it might be a bit hard to write almost four articles per week (and I have even more writing goals). But I believe if I want to get what I want, I need to stick to my plan. At least it’s not everyday writing, which usually costs burnout.

Going back to the UX design world. Let’s imagine that you dream about creating your product. You already know the tasks you need to make. Now it’s time to plan your everyday tasks.

Think carefully about your tasks, because it’s the most important step in your plan. Analyze how many hours you work, sleep, eat, watch movies. It’ll help you to find a perfect timeslot along with the number of hours.

Once you know the perfect timeslot, assign tasks to yourself, like on Trello. By the way, you can use Trello to even be more productive if you’re comfortable with it.

Pro-Tip

Good self-management is very important when it comes to working with tasks. From your design career, you know that bad management can ruin your work. Don’t replicate this mistake and be your own boss with perfect time sense.

Final Thoughts

Building a UX designer career is hard because you need to learn many technical things. But apart from that, you might also have your personal plans. The best way to manage both careers, and professional goals are planning.

It doesn’t matter what productivity tools to use. What matters is a smart strategy.

I already planned my writing goals for 2022 and going to plan my design tasks. But the strategy that I used applies to any type of project — both personal and professional.

It’s time to boost your career to the next level and achieve your goals with productivity tools that make your ideas real.


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Olha Bahaieva Avatar

Olha Bahaieva / UI/UX Designer, Medium Author, Public Speaker @ Toptal

Olha Bahaieva is a senior UI/UX designer, Medium author and public speaker at Toptal.

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