I moved house recently, taking this as a cue to sit down and reflect on my key learnings at work over the past two months.

I have been working at Instahome since mid-June this year. I came onboard as a UX/UI designer slightly before the project was kicked off. I was still living in Milan back then. Under a mix of economic uncertainty in Italy due to COVID, along with a great build-up of homesickness from not being back in Malaysia for two years, I found myself back in Malaysia after a good long decade (only visited during holidays).

July and August were rather smooth sailing. First, ideas and sketches turned into wireframes and screens. Then, in August, as I settled into Instahome’s office and my new home in Kuala Lumpur, the work slowly evolved as the entire project began to take shape. No longer a solo designer, my task and roles began to involve more than myself. Whether it’d be debating the necessity of updating design elements with my manager, ad-hoc tasks of rapid addition of missing screens, or crafting a social media marketing plan and guideline because the marketing team took form.

The structure of my Weekly Journal

In September, I started to feel challenged at work, which was when I decided to journal about work to keep track of my progress and record them for future reflection. The result was a weekly journal with the format is as of below:

  • Main task: Key deliverables for this week
  • Weekly agenda: Checkboxes of daily tasks to complete. Summarise with bullet points at the end of the day. Incomplete tasks are moved to the following day(s). Saturday and Sunday are merged into “Weekend”.
  • Weekly Learnings: Key learnings of the week. Mainly notes from 1-to-1 weekly review with my manager. It can be both hard or soft skills related.
  • Next week to-do: At the end of the weekly review with my manager, we will also sync up on our main focus for next week. I will transfer the notes here into next week’s “Main Task”

So far, this format of journaling has been working well. Sections that are not filled, e.g. “What I think I will learn”, were eventually removed. It has a manageable ratio of progress and reflection. Let’s see how the format will evolve.

So, here are the five key learnings selected from my weekly journals across September and October.

  1. Take note “excessively”: Practice detailed note-taking. Take them as a form of tangible memories.
  2. When looking at references, ask what does this mean for us?: When taking examples or inspiration, ask what this could mean for us. Remember to ask “Why?” frequently.
  3. To prevent analysis paralysis, approach problem solving with a framework: Give context, state the problem, present analysis with evidence, conclude, identify changes needed.
  4. Practice over-communicating: Leave nothing to assumption.
  5. Check-in proactively and regularly: Acknowledge when I need help and get help early.

These key learnings are then used to plan out what I’d like to work on from here.

  1. To synthesise information effectively: Maximising and preserving my learnings absorbed from research and meetings.
  2. To communicate learnings efficiently: Maximise the quality of transfer of knowledge and information to others.
  3. Justification for prioritisation: “Why should we do this?”