My team is short of designer for the past few months. In order to meet very aggressive deadlines, I had to step in to design some product features. As a manager, I never completely give up hands-on work. I design here and there, mostly small features. But the past month or two is not the same. It’s like going back to an IC again, plus lots of meetings to attend.

I pick up the keyboard and mouse. I open up Figma. I discuss heatedly with PMs. I read each word in the product spec. I fight. I compromise. I struggle with the right words to use. I worry that my simple design would bring down metrics. I argue with PM about priority. I dig into research findings. I think and write. I come up with solutions. I throw away solutions. I give presentations and explain rationales…

By temporarily switching to another mode, I meet my inner drive again - the desire to make things.

I am not saying that I delivered some flawless greatness. I am just saying whenever I pick up my tools, I feel the drive of making the best design that I am capable of making. And that feeling is great.