Day in the Life

A Day in the Life: Product Designer

For our Day in the Life series, we look at the daily work habits, schedules and routines from people in a variety of roles and careers around the world.

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Mark Uraine, Design Director at Automattic

Mark Uraine is a Southern California-based designer, currently working as the Design Director at Automattic, supporting a team of designers contributing to WordPress. 

I have a wife and 3 kids, and I work remotely, so you can imagine that my family is a big part of my daily routine. In the morning I help get the kids ready for school and give them a hug on their way out. 

Shortly thereafter, I jump into Slack and catch up on the conversations that have happened in other timezones. I provide immediate direction or support on anything that needs to be unblocked.

Once I catch up, I review my schedule for the day’s meetings and tasks. Much of this consists of routine check-ins, feedback on current design work, and project planning and communication in an open source community.

I translate the project vision by helping to organize strategy into tactics. My team is dedicated to contributing full-time to the open source software, WordPress, so we spend a great amount of our day working on understanding the goals, designing mockups and prototypes, and collaborating with developers to ensure we are building the best user experience.

During the day I’ll go for a walk or partake in another exercise activity. It is a blessing. When I am done with work, my family sits down for dinner together talking about our day without any electronics.

Some evenings I facilitate a Torah class or prepare for the weekend’s gathering at our congregation.

Alex Muench, Product Designer at Doist

Alex Muench is a Product Designer at Doist, the fully remote company behind productivity apps like Todoist and Twist, where he’s working remotely from Germany. 

Usually I wake up at 7:30am, get ready, take my vitamins, and make a cup of coffee. If I’m up to it, I like reading a book, newspaper, watching a video, listen, to a podcast, scroll through Twitter, or reply to some messages. I have a small time frame set before work where I can do anything that I find interesting or inspiring.

I start work at 8 or 9am in my home office, open Todoist and Twist, and go through my plans for the day and team conversations. As a designer, my areas of work can vary a lot. Most of the time, I work on one feature for a whole month inside a small internal team related to our apps.

I’m also active in joining product discussions, helping other designers with feedback on their designs, writing design documentations, testing our apps and new features, or coming up with new ideas to solve problems.

During the day, I try to take regular breaks and eat lunch or brunch at 12pm. Sometimes I skip breakfast if I’m not hungry. Coffee and a glass of water are always by my side. I also have Spotify playing in my headphones. One of my favorite playlists is Electro Pop.

At 6pm I finish my day and do some other activities like watching a movie, reading an article or book, going for a walk, sketching on my iPad, or something completely different.

Catalina de León Belloc, Product Designer at Feedly

Catalina de León Belloc is a Product Designer based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she is working at news aggregator application Feedly

We’ve been in lockdown for over 90 days, so my day-to-day has definitely changed since then. I start my workdays with a short yoga practice followed by a 15 minute meditation. This helps me stayed focused and calm. 

When I’m not running workshops like a Design Sprint, I use the Pomodoro technique throughout the day to get deep focused design work done, combined with user tests, talking to other designers and product people. This technique provides me with short breaks for coffee, reading an article, a personal call or a short check-in to chat with my 2 year old. 

At the end of the workday I hop on the treadmill for a 4km run, followed by family dinner and hopefully in bed by 10pm to watch an episode with my wife and then read a book.

Khoi Vinh, Senior Director of Product Design at Adobe

Khoi Vinh is the Senior Director of Product Design at Adobe and blogger at Prior to Adobe, Khoi was the co-founder and CEO of Mixel, Design Director of The New York Times Online, and co-founder of the design studio Behavior.

One of the things that’s so enjoyable about my job is that every day is different. 

Sometimes I’m working with the designers on my team. Sometimes I’m doing strategy for the business. Sometimes I’m out in front of customers and at conferences. And sometimes I’m in the studio recording Wireframe, the documentary podcast about design that I host. 

Of course lately every day is pretty much the same; since the pandemic started I’m just sitting at my desk at home on video calls, just like everyone else.

Filippo Di Trapani, Design Lead at Automattic

Filippo Di Trapani is the Design Lead at Automattic, where he manages teams and projects to deliver improved payment experiences for

Well, I’ll start by saying that my day-in-a-life now is very different to what it was a couple months ago before COVID-19 hit. 

My wife works for the Canadian federal government and is directly involved in the response to this crisis. She’s working full days from home and we also have our three kids at home so I’m taking care of them. 

One of the positives sides of this crisis is that our mornings aren’t as hectic as they used to be. We get up a little bit later than we used to and are in less of a rush to get out the door. I start my day with 30 minutes of physical exercise and then grab a breakfast before taking on the day with the kids. 

Thanks to the weather, we have made it a habit to go out for a long walk around the neighbourhood or on a scenic trail. Sometimes we take food with us and have a picnic or get back home in time for lunch. 

Thankfully one of my kids still naps so I put him down after lunch and then have about an hour to hop on a video chat or do some work while the kids get some screen time. When my son wakes up, I wrangle the other two and we find some activities to keep us busy or just play outside. 

When my wife is done work for the day, one of us prepares dinner while the other entertains the kids. After dinner, I hop on the computer for about an hour to reply to work emails and messages so I can clear my way for more productive work after we put the kids to bed. That leaves me with 3-4 hours to get some work done and then to get to bed before we start it all over again the next day.

Alex Skougarevskaya, Senior Design Manager – Confluence at Atlassian

Alex Skougarevskaya is a Senior Design Manager for collaborative workspace tool, Confluence, at Australian tech company, Atlassian. 

I run a team primarily based in the US, and I’m located in Sydney. 

  • My day starts at 5.45am. I’m usually on a call by 6/6.15, with a member of my team where we have a 1:1 meeting, I run 30-45 min 1:1’s with my 7 reports, weekly. 
  • It’s then followed by a 45min session with my triad: Head of Product and Head of Engineering for Confluence Experience – my peers.
  • Followed by a 30 min window where I help my husband, get our three girls; 9, 5, 5, get ready to go to school. I walk the kids to the gate and I’m back on a zoom call at 9.05am, this time it’s with our Program manager, to run through the key meetings and deliverables of the week. There have been many times where I’m doing my kids hair as I’m chatting with my team – the juggle is real.
  • Jump into a workshop 90 min, deep diving into a particular feature. The US work day finishes around this time, so I take the opportunity for 30 min for lunch and walk the dog to the park. 
  • Back to it for a few Sydney meetings like a monthly mentoring session I have with a senior IC from another team and lastly a sanity sync with a few of my peers from around the company.
  • I wrap up my day at 2.30, walk the dog, get ready for the afternoon with the kids. Occasionally I will jump back online around 9-10 to check on pages I’m watching and respond to slack messages. I listen to meditation and read, and aim to be asleep by 11.

Jonas Downey, Design Team Lead at Basecamp

Jonas Downey is the Design Team Lead at project management software company, Basecamp, and the co-creator of weather app Hello Weather

I’m not a morning person, so I roll out of bed around 8am, throw on a pot of coffee, and start working by 8:30am. It’s easy to do that, since I have no commute!

Over the years I discovered I’m most productive during certain times of the day, so I try to optimize tasks around that. In the morning I keep it light, catch up on what’s happening at the company, and make a little progress on whatever project I’m working on. Then I take a breather in the late morning, make myself presentable, and schedule any face-to-face chats that need to happen.

After that I spend the better part of the afternoon focusing on design work, which is typically spent in a text editor writing words and code, in a web browser figuring out a UI design, and then stepping back to see if it all fits together.

Una Bassil, Freelance Product Designer

Una Bassil is a freelance product designer based in Latvia, where she works remotely with clients on leading design projects and shaping products.

It honestly really varies, though I will admit I love a good routine. I try to not set the alarm clock and allow my body and mind to rest as much as they need to (perks of a freelance schedule!). 

I always have a cup of coffee when I wake up and jump on my laptop to go through emails, Slack, any comments on my designs that clients might’ve left in Figma, so I know what the tasks and priorities for the day will look like. 

I take my training pretty seriously as well, so I have my morning session 2-3 hours after I wake up. Then it’s lunch and work time. Working from home most days allows me to be frugal with my time and not waste it on commuting, so I can be more efficient with work. 

I then tend to schedule any meetings for after 1 or 2 pm as I find am is my most productive time in terms of creativity (must be the caffeine, hey)! 

I am still pretty new to the freelancing world, but I try to make sure I work the hours that suit me best in terms of productivity and other commitments. That being said, with so many clients based in the US, I sometimes need to push the work hours until later in the evening. 

For those days, I just allow myself to start the day at a later point. I usually finish work around 5-6pm, which allows me to use my evening for more training and coaching as well. 

So it’s not like I am chilling on the sofa and watching Netflix with a slice of pizza in my hand, but switching between design work and CrossFit allows my mind to also switch gears and relax and have fun.

Jake Deakin, Senior Product Designer at InVision

Jake Deakin is. a Senior Product Designer at digital product design platform InVision, where he works on the Craft and Web Prototyping team. 

My alarm is set for 7:30am, but generally, my puppy (@marlothemini <- shameless plug) wakes me up at around 7am. 

I start my day at the dog park with an iced coffee and aim to get to my desk by 8:45. I use the first 15 minutes of my day planning what I want to achieve over the day.

Around 9am I get to work on my highest priority of the day and grind on this until around 11am, as the majority of my direct team is located on the west coast I am blessed with a few hours of undisrupted focus time. 

Around 11:30/12 I start to lose energy and become lethargic, at this time I head out to the local deli to grab some food and fresh air.

I like to open up my afternoons for collaboration. On a normal day i’ll use this time for project-specific meetings, customer interviews, collaborating with my product & engineering partners, reviewing work, planning sprints, and more.

At 5-6pm I’ll finish up for the day. The first thing I do after work is exercise, you can find me running with Brooklyn Track Club, at my local gym, or playing football with my team GBFC. After some ‘me’ time, I’ll head home to grab my puppy and finish the day watching the sunset from the dog park.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.