Navigating projects with intention

Show notes

If you don't set an intention, you let your current work project determine your mood, the outcome, the motivation. Setting an intention means taking control and helps you stay true to your values.

There's so many digital projects that are hectic, stressful, short-termed and without space to think properly. And that's when we loose track of our values, of quality, of innovative ideas, of motivation.

So let's talk about the why and how of setting intentions for design projects for more mental health, ease and ecological and social sustainability.

Love, Sandy


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Show transcript

Intention is something we may think about at the beginning of a day, a week, a month, or most often used as your intention for the next year on New Year's Eve. And it's not to be mixed with your goals for the specific time frame, but your intention is more about how you want to feel, what you want to bring into a certain day, week, month, or year. And we can bring that into our everyday work as well. And why? How? What? Let's find out together in this episode.

So welcome to the Green the Web podcast. It's a podcast about ecologically and socially sustainable design. I'm your host, Sandy Dähnert, a freelance UX, UI designer and researcher based in Cologne, Germany, and the mind behind Green the web.

And this time we talk a little bit more about how can we bring intention into our projects and navigating projects with intention and what that offers us as a designer. An intention is a word that speaks of motivation, intent, aspiration and ambition. Intentions can be neutral. They can be negative. They can be positive. It's really our choice what the intention of ours is in that moment. And a couple of you already know that I'm also a yoga and sound meditation teacher, so I often use setting an intention in the first moments of a class, and setting an intention for this hour that you spend on your mat, and just being with yourself, doing something for yourself. And if it's just to take time for yourself, your mind and your body. But being intentional with the time that you spend in this room at this moment during your day. And then I thought to myself, at some point in the last years, well, I don't really bring intention into my design work. I just do it. Ideas, get a project and I do it. I might set an intention for the day of what do I want to do for myself? How do I want to feel? How do I want to end that day? But I don't do it for the design projects that I'm doing. And then I tried it out and I thought, okay, let's give it a go. And set an intention for the projects and what would change. And I discovered and I talked with a lot of other people about it. They discovered it as well, that it really helps. It helps to give more meaning and depth to what we do. And there are so many busy, stress filled days and setting an intention at the beginning of a day, or just for one task of the day, gives it a whole other purpose. And especially in those busy and stressful days, it's the hardest to do that because we're just running out of time and feel like, okay, we have to hustle and have to go through everything very quickly. If you don't set an intention, you'll let the project determine your mood, the outcome, the motivation. And let me tell you, I've did that a lot in my career of now 12 years. I did that a lot, and setting an intention means taking control, and it helps you stay true to your values, especially if you really know your values and why you're doing certain things. It helps tremendously. There are so many digital projects that are hectic and stressful and short termed and without space to think properly, and that's when we lose track of our values, of quality, of innovative ideas, of motivation. So what I started doing is setting an intention at the beginning of every project, writing it down and reminding myself in the course of this project to what my intention was. It can shift, it can change, but at the core it usually stays the same. And I got to feel more sane, mentally sane. It keeps my head connected to my heart and we need more heart in this industry. To be honest. We need a lot more of that. And if your intention is well aligned with your values, then you have a powerful tool for moving forward. It's about being proactive, not reactive to what is happening around you. And we all know there are situations where everything seems to need attention at the same time. Definitely. I know that especially if you work in very time pressured environments, whether that's in agency life or if you have a company, especially in startups. And yeah, where there's a lot of time pressure on everything you're doing, I know how hard it is to be really mindful in those situations and with those projects. But as I said, the more important it is to do it. So let's have a look into how to set an intention for a work project. First thing is know your values, your values of. Maybe community of trust, of quality, of whatever your values are. It could be also political. It could be social values. It could be all kinds of different things of values that you have. Maybe you even have your own manifesto that you've written down. The second thing is know your why. In that moment it could be financial reasons. It could be knowledge transfer or building up knowledge. It could be a career chance with or out of that project. It could be a psychological reason, social. Most of the times it's actually a mixture of many different things. And if your why you're doing that project in that moment is financially. Then that's okay as well. It all can be there. The third factor is know your goals. So know the goals of this project, of this product, of the deliverables, the features, the KPIs. Know all of those very tangible things that need to be known. And then know your vision, how that project could unfold in the most brilliant and positive way. It's a powerful tool to have a vision and sometimes absolutely okay to just go with the flow wherever it takes you. And sometimes we don't have a vision for a project because there is no time to set up a vision, or this project goes just from one level to another without having this big, grand thing. But knowing your vision helps tremendously in also setting an intention, and then also know the blocks that might be there. It might be blocks of people that are working in this project time budget of knowledge, of the circumstances, of other projects that are involved. There are so many blocks that can hinder us from reaching our goals, reaching our vision and really implementing our values and our why in that specific moment in that specific project. And if you have all of those, your values, your why, your goals, your vision, your blocks, then state your intention or even your intentions. So several of them, we will get deeper into that in a second. And then very important I found, is to revisit your intentions, because as soon as this project really hits and is going and there's weeks and months and maybe even years of this project work, then we can easily forget what our initial intentions were. And setting an intention. You have to be clear, you have to be positive. So there is no I won't do this. I won't do that. But there is only positive intentions. Keep it simple and be realistic. Be realistic, especially is connected to the blocks that you know. That there are, or that there might be certain blocks as of certain people, that you have run ideas to stuff like that. Keeping it simple, very short, keeping it clear to not be like I might. And this could and here's a possibility to have and do. No like really be clear, be positive, keep it simple and be realistic. And usually my intention for every project is to bring the most quality, as well as ecological and social sustainability into the project. To go through the project with ease and a pace that feels good, to stay open minded for other ideas, for other solutions, for people to consider the needs of all actants with respect in the project team, human personas, environmental actants, all actants. To allow myself to learn, to be mindful, to create as much positive outcome for all. Those are just some rough general intentions that I have. And you probably realize it's not really goal oriented and it's sometimes might scratch on a couple of goals, but those are intentions, some ideas of intentions. And then I prioritize and get clearer depending on the project. You most often can't do everything in one project due to budget, time, client wishes. There's so many things so it prioritize and specify the intentions to get the most out of the project. For a passive users and their needs, or for certain part of accessibility or any other focus area that I want to have a deeper intention about in this specific project and prioritizing what is most important to me in this factor is it ecological sustainability? Is a social sustainability. Is it like one factor of those things? It's is it something totally different? Maybe ecological and social sustainability is what we talk about in this podcast. Maybe it's not that in that moment because your why is heavily the financial realm or staying mentally sane, then this is your highest priority and that is okay as well if some of the other things. Have to step down a little bit. It might not sound like rocket science, and it truly is not. But when you really feel that intention in your heart, it changes something with how you approach things in your daily work. And believe me, I do lose that connection to my intentions once in a while as well. Or forget to set an intention because it's just so stressful and everything happens at the same time. And then suddenly from one project, you go into another one and then you're supposed to be in this project just for a couple of days, and then suddenly you have this as your full time project and things happen. And I still have my goals to reach certain KPIs or doing a good job. But if I don't set an intention, I'm not fully connected. Tudor's project. And sometimes it's absolutely okay if you are in this project just for a couple of days, or just an hour or workshop or something short term, then it's absolutely okay. But especially if we have longer time spreads with a certain project. It's where intentions make a huge difference. It's awareness that we bring to it. It's detached from the outcome. It's a guide, not a goal. It's a guide. It keeps you connected to your values. No matter how stress heavy a project gets. It's your values, your why, your goals. Intentions help frame the experiences we make, whether that's in our private life or in our business life. By the way, one of the biggest ones is I will give myself grace in all situations, knowing I do the best that I can. And it's probably the intention that I struggle with most. And I know many people do, because we have those goals written down that we definitely want to achieve. And most of the projects. To be honest, they don't reach certain goals, whether it's to have a specific feature ready and fully done in a certain time frame, or to have a website live and running in a certain time frame or a certain budget, and all of those blocks coming in can trigger us heavily. It could be that the success isn't hitting as much as we want it, or it just needs a lot more time of building something or working on something. So it actually things happen, whatever that is that needs to happen and we want it to happen. But saying I will give myself grace in all situations, knowing I do the best that I can. This has nothing to do with external, ecological or social responsibility matters. It's about your mental health. So as I said, we can set intentions for ecological reasons, social reasons for your mental health, for your daily life, especially if you're a caregiver and you have your parents that you have to care for, or children you have to care for, or other human beings. If you have financial debt, if you have had a rough time in the last weeks, months and years, if there's circumstances in your life and the society and the time you're in, like all of those things matter in how we reach goals and whether we reach goals. But setting intentions in your heart to do the best you can and all of those different aspects. It keeps you connected. It definitely did for me heavily. And as I said, I often still forget to remind myself to revisit those intentions or to set them in the first place. And then I get hung up on things that don't really matter, or I get super stressed or worry a lot, or all of those things that we sometimes do. So try it out to set an intention for your current or your next project. Navigating this project with intention. Know your values. Know your why in that moment. Know your goals. Know your vision. Know the blocks. And then state your intentions and revisit your intentions.

I'd be really excited to hear what this tool might change for you in the design work you're doing. So please send me your messages or comment on the post of today what you got out of it, because I'm really curious. And with that, this is the end of this episode. Subscribe to the Green the Web podcast, where I'm talking about a lot of ecological and socially sustainable UX, UI design topics. Sometimes it's more an episode like this where we talk more about the things around our work, and it's not specific to design work, but like general things. And sometimes it's a lot more specific to sustainable UX, UI design topic. This is season two of the podcast, so just head into all the older podcast episodes that are already there. Rate the podcast if you enjoy the show and visit me on or on Instagram or LinkedIn. I am really happy to hear about your thoughts on today's episode, to read from you. And then see you in the next episode.

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