Essential skills for designers to thrive in the future

By Jonas
October 27, 2022
4 min read

Technology is advancing rapidly: AI, machine learning, and self-driving cars sounded like something from a sci-fi movie not too long ago. Those who grew up during the dot-com bubble in the late 1990s have seen many new technologies emerge. I believe that having lived through this time of rapid technological innovation allowed us to develop a flexible mindset. This allows us to evaluate new technology and make rapid changes when needed. As designers, our roles, work environments, and tools constantly change. And new technological advances will continue to disrupt and change the way we work.

In the book Race against the machine by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, they write: Technology is racing ahead, but many of our skills and organizations are lagging.

So how do we get ahead?

Designers use communication skills; Some indicators may include the ability to develop new products or services, solve complex problems, and work independently. We often have to step outside our roles to help achieve a common goal, and our roles are always evolving.

I focus this article on two skills that have had the biggest impact on me and the great performers around me. I believe that those who will thrive in the digital economy are the ones with the ability to master new things and produce on an elite level.

The ability to master new things

Mastering new skills are not optional in today’s business environment. In a fast-moving world, learning new skills is vital. There are a lot of methods and tools you can use to learn new skills; I believe it starts with curiosity and deliberate efforts to improve yourself. The best way to improve is to put your head down, disconnect yourself from your ego, and create. Your value is you, and your ability to improve.

To create value and a sense of fulfillment in our work, we need to be in a state of focus and push our capabilities to our limits.

The ability to produce on an elite level

Today, we are often distracted from our main tasks by administrative work, meetings, emails, notifications, and social media. We might only have a few time slots per day where we can produce work, which means we need to focus when given a chance. According to writer Cal Newport, the solution is "deep work." Newport believes that by reducing or eliminating "shallow work" and prioritizing "deep work," we can regain our lost focus and improve productivity.

What is deep work?

Deep work means working in a focused state on a challenging task that requires a specific skill set and produces high-value results. Examples of deep work tasks include studying for an exam, writing an article or book, or solving a complex problem.

Shallow work is the opposite of deep work. Shallow work is easy to replicate and can be performed by anyone with little training. Shallow work can also easily be performed when you’re distracted.

How can we get more work done?

There are a lot of studies done on how a person with less time can produce more than people with more time, and there's an extensive list of tools and methods to help you find your focus. I believe that this law of productivity helps this paradox: Quality of work produced = (Time Spent) x (Intensity of focus). This formula explains why some can spend all day working on a task and still struggle, while others never seem to spend large chunks of time yet produce more. The time you spend "working" is meaningless outside the context of its intensity. A small number of highly intense hours, for example, can potentially produce more results than a full day of low-intensity work.

Creating fulfilling work reflects deliberate efforts to improve yourself and working on rewarding tasks that demand your focus. This is more important now than ever as our attention is constantly pulled in different directions. Deep Work is the concept that interlinks these two skills.

The future is exciting, and there are a lot of great technological advances happening; This also means that competition is greater than ever. I believe that those who thrive will master these skills.

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* Disclaimer: I do not profit from affiliate links or advertisements. I write to improve myself and share knowledge.

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