The Deep Dive Method of Learning UX

I think we’re all sold on the idea of establishing good habits. Meditate 15 minutes a day, exercise 3 times a week, etc.

When it comes to learning, I’ve found that carving out a “deep dive day” is especially helpful to fully grok a topic or skill.

It’s also super helpful when I’ve fallen off the train and need to motivate myself again.

Let me know if you can relate or if any of this is triggering ;)

  • You’ve been stagnating in your UX curriculum
  • You’re procrastinating on your UX job search
  • Spending 30 minutes / day on UX work is too slow for you

Learning UX is a marathon, not a sprint. So if you’ve become demotivated on your learning journey, we’ll compare two learning methods to help you get back on track.

When the drip model stops working

The drip method of learning is the standard method. You learn day by day, or follow a set curriculum that’s chunked out in modules.

This method assumes ideal conditions: you have a consistent schedule and have enough energy and motivation to keep progressing every day.

If you’re juggling kids, a full time job and other duties, sticking to a consistent schedule can get messy…and it can feel extra demotivating when you fall behind on your lessons.

If that hasn’t been working for you, then maybe you need a deep dive.

Enter the deep dive method

The deep dive method is simple: clear out your schedule and dedicate a chunk of time for deep learning.

This can look like dedicating a whole weekend or 4 hours during a free day of your week.

For your first time trying this, I recommend a deep dive day.

Set up a whole day, or as much of a whole day, to immerse yourself in one UX topic.

You can accomplish than you expect in just one deep dive day:

Compared to drip learning 1 hour at a time — which might not be deep enough to crack into one topic — you’re using one continuous chunk of time to immerse yourself in a topic.

Drip MethodDeep Dive Method
ScheduleConsistent and short
30 minutes to 1-2 hours at a day
A-la-carte and long
1x/week or 1x/month, 8+ hours a day
Depth of learningShallow to Medium
Good for exposure to new concepts
Better for integrating and practicing material
ProgressSmall steps
Good for incremental, tactical knowledge & tips
Big leaps
Good for understanding big concepts and having things “click” faster

Bonus: this is also a great way to give up any guilt around not making progress using the drip method.

You’ll see that if you really need to make progress in one area of life, creating a deep dive learning day may be exactly what you need.

Why not both?

These two learning methods are not mutually exclusive.

Sometimes you might find yourself steady progress using drip learning, and sometimes you need a “reboot” to get motivated about UX again.

(I also think this is an unspoken benefit of attending UX conferences).

Here’s a time continuum of how you might play with the deep dive method, drip method, or both for different learning needs.

Initial learningMaintain your learningReinvigorate your learning
Deep diveDrip methodDeep dive, then figure out a drip method
Why? Give yourself enough space to learn and absorb new and big UX topicsWhy? Maintain a steady cadence of learningWhy? Re-motivate yourself if you hit a wall in progress / begin to stagnate

Deep dive can be more effective, but it’s still not easy

Yes, learning UX and trying the deep dive method can be a big commitment.

That might mean waking up earlier or saying no to other events. It can mean setting boundaries with others or delegating tasks so you can really make significant progress in your UX career.

And yes, it can be painful to lose some work-life balance for a while as you get up to speed.

A UX job isn’t given to anyone— you need to want it bad enough, and be more obsessed than the next person.

Whether you’re self-studying UX or already enrolled in an immersive UX bootcamp, I hope you consider the deep dive method as a way to get un-stuck and make significant progress.


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