2 Semesters filled with new tools and learnings are over

A halfway recap — Reflecting on my master’s studies

Beate Öttl

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Two semesters of my master's studies in content strategy are already over - and almost all of it online! This is the perfect time to reflect on my most important learnings. This post is divided into two parts: tools & techniques and productivity & time management.

Shortlist of Content

Tools & Techniques

  • Content Audit
  • Card Sorting
  • Prototyping

Productivity & time management

  • Deep Work
  • The 2-minute rule
  • Effective Reading & Capturing

Tools & Techniques

Content Audit

A Content Audit is a quantitative and qualitative assessment of a website and its content. The Content is measured against a defined set of criteria like, for example, readability or accessibility. Paula Lands Book Content Inventories and Audits should be on your reading list if you want to find out more about content audits and conduct them.

As a UX-Designer, I have learned that content audits are especially helpful in discovering possible content problems. Content Audits are beneficial for my work, and I would recommend Paula Lands' book to any content professional.

Card sorting

Card sorting is a method that can be applied for multiple purposes. Most often, it is probably used in the context of information architecture (IA).

Card sorting can be conducted in a workshop setting where the most important stakeholders of a website project come together and group topics of a website into categories. In the study program, we used card sorting for creating a brand message architecture in the course by Margot Bloomstein.

My Colleagues Katrin and Sandra have written a blog post about Card sorting for brand message architecture as well.

Prototyping

Prototyping is a cornerstone of UX and therefore I really enjoyed sessions about the topic. Rapidly iterating on paper prototypes is cheap and easy and can help to uncover problems.

The next step is creating wireframes and prototypes that your users can interact with. There are various tools that could be used for this, like Balsamiq or Figma.

Linking together the prototype in Figma

My Colleague Elisabeth has written a post about the topic as well:
PROTOTYPING — Tipps, Tricks, and Tools you should know

Productivity & time management

In this section, I want to talk about time management and productivity hacks that are new to my toolkit. Studying fully online has challenged my motivation beyond compare. My college Stella has written a great post about time management as well: What does staying motivated in times of lockdown really look like?

Deep Work

Deep Work is a state of working distraction-free at your deepest state of focus. It requires protected work time and workspace, so a little bit of isolation is required.

I have tried this out a few times last year, and working from home has certainly made this easier. A have linked this introduction to the topic: The complete guide to deep work.

In Short: Deep work is about building rigorous work and concentration habits where you set rules for your time, space, duration, and structure for your work. Example:

https://blog.doist.com/deep-work/

Deep work is also religious about Downtime. The time when we don’t work is important to recharge. Especially with working from home, it is easy to be at work ALL THE TIME. That’s why we should schedule specific downtimes — our concentration is finite!

The 2-minute rule

If I absolutely do not want to do something, I force myself to do it for minutes. Breaking into work is often the hardest part for me, so this method has helped me to be more productive throughout the last year.

If I don’t want to do it, after two minutes, I can stop. But chances are, that I keep working once I have already started. ;)

Effective Reading & Capturing

Blogposts, Videos, Podcasts, E-Books…we all consume a ton of content every day! There are many helpful insights, but I recently found a great method to capture and collect all the information.

This is the art of Notetaking. There are a bunch of tools that could be used for this (Notion, OneNote, Roam). The one I have been using is Evernote. Evernote helps me to collect and organize notes, articles, and snippets from Linkedin, Blogs, or Websites.

Whenever I read something that resonates with me, I highlight it and clip it to my Evernote. That way, I can build up a knowledge base for myself.

This has been extremely useful, and I wish had started to do this sooner.

More Productivity Resources

For me, one of the best resources for productivity and personal growth is
Ali Abdaals YouTube Channel. He has the best hacks and motivates me to get my work done. More than that, his tips help me be more efficient with my time and build routines. If you want to boost your productivity, I cannot recommend his channel enough.

Another YouTube Channel with a focus on productivity and creativity is Struthless. The videos are just fun to watch and really helpful, especially the journaling techniques.

Further Reading

📝 If you are interested in the topic of productivity, I can recommend my colleague Stella's Blogpost on “5 ways always to stay organized.

📝 My colleague Rosa has written about why the stress of studying and working is worth it: “Study and work? Why the double burden is worth it.”

📝 If you want to find out more about work-life balance and stress, you should read my colleague Linda's post: “Overworked and stressed out? Here’s how I regained my work-life balance.”

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Beate Öttl

UX-Designer & Content Strategist passionate about productivity & personal growth. Empowering Creatives to unfold their full potential 👍✨