Things You’re Allowed To Do (Alexandria #039)

The best content related to design, psychology, and productivity.
Sent sporadically.

Adam Sadowski
3 min readSep 13, 2022

Featured Article

The Five-Tool

“As someone who has managed and worked with designers for most of my adult life, I get a lot of calls from people looking to check references on someone I’ve worked with or find out from me if there are other designers they should be talking to.

When I think about the range of critiques I’ve provided in these situations, the term I always use to describe the very best designers I’ve ever worked with is the five-tool designer.

Everyone looks for slightly different things in the designers they hire, but for me, there are five tools that stand above the rest.”

More Amazing Reads

What I Learned at Clubhouse

“Lesson #2: Strive for a great UX and a good-enough UI

A great UX facilitates your product’s core interactions — it’s clear, easy, and simple. A bad UX makes it hard for users to do the thing you want them to do (or even know you want them to do it). Bad UX can turn users off a good product idea.

On the other hand, a “good-enough” UI is … good enough, especially since it can be more subjective. For example, color and font schema can influence the perception of a product’s purpose and audience (e.g., target age and interests). But a differentiated product with strong utility and great UX should overcome this.”

The Vanishing Designer

“Look around us. Every business is an app and every app feels the same, because every designer has the same resume, follows the same process, graduates from the same program, uses the same tool, scrolls the same Dribbble feed, reads the same Medium articles, expects the same career outcome, lives in the same ideology bubble…”

Principles of Visual Design

  1. “It feels right” is valid, and sometimes preferred (e.g. optical alignment). But if you can explain why it feels right, that’s better.
  2. Some techniques and patterns are harder to get wrong. Focus on those, early on.
  3. If you make a design simple by hiding things, you’ve swept rubbish under the rug. The room is still full of rubbish.
  4. The last 20% takes 80% of the time.
  5. Both elegance and extravagance are valid, as long as they’re sophisticated.
  6. You rarely get good visual design the first time. Perhaps not even the fifteenth. Iterate…”

Things You’re Allowed To Do

“This is a list of things you’re allowed to do that you thought you couldn’t, or didn’t even know you could. I haven’t tried everything on this list, mainly due to cost. But you’d be surprised how cheap most of the things on this list are (especially the free ones). Note that you can replace “hire” or “buy” with “barter for” or “find a DIY guide to” nearly everywhere below. E.g. you can clean the bathroom in exchange for your housemate doing a couple of hours of research for you”

Rest Isn’t the Opposite of Work

“When I talk about integrating rest into work, most people immediately think of sleep. But sleep is just 1 out of the 7 types of rest. I was introduced to this concept through a TED talk by Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, and I have since integrated them into my remote workday. This knowledge has helped me eliminate burnout, standardize a calm, measured approach to my workday, inspire more creative thinking, and feel healthier overall.”

How to Know When to Stop

“Stemming from my heart attack scare — a clear sign that I was overloaded — I began creating a plan to keep myself out of extended periods of unsustainable stress. That’s when I rediscovered the concept of a range of tolerance and started to apply it to myself.

After a few years of iterating on it and pursuing it earnestly, it’s led to a quality of life that I wouldn’t trade for any salary. Here’s more on how it works.”

Interview Warmup

“Interview Warmup is a tool that lets anyone practice answering interview questions to get more confident and comfortable with the interview process. Your answers are transcribed in real-time so you can review what you said and discover patterns in your responses. It’s a judgment-free zone for anyone who wants a little practice interviewing.”