The Falafel Method for UI Design

If you’ve ordered falafel from a proper Israeli falafel shop, you’ve seen ultimate productivity at play.

It’s not an art, or a learned skill: it’s just getting the thing done.

In the following article, I’ll be sharing a method that I came up with that helps me enjoy my work more and be more productive as a designer, and yes, it has a direct connection to a famous Israeli dish.

GTD the Falafel way

Stand in line, wait very briefly,
have someone scream “hummus fries salad!” at you,
take your pita (filled with the above, it’s usually not a question so much as a statement)
and hurry up so the next person will get served.

Time wasting is not acceptable. If you wander off into the pre-lunch daydream, you’ll find an angry falafel maker yelling “Hey! You! Come on! What do you want in the pita?”

The pitas get spread with hummus, the vegetables and falafel balls get thrown into the pita, customers are served, the day goes on and eventually ends, so they can go home and do whatever they like to do aside for providing delicious sustenance.

There’s no thinking involved, just fast hands and chopped salad.

Now let’s talk about the UI design process for a second

Design work usually involves a ton of thinking, strategizing, researching, and then actually designing. Nonetheless, there’s a lot of brainless work that has to get done as well along the way. For example: Making a few small changes to the copy and re-exporting all the screens to your Invision prototype, or making some minor edits from a list of client feedback and re-sending for approval.

These are tasks that usually don’t demand our full brain capacity, but they usually come in the middle of other design tasks that do. Because of that, we sometimes think too much when we shouldn’t. The problem is that our brains sub consciously gets that we shouldn’t think too much about these tasks and that creates a cognitive dissonance which ends up in one or two ways:

  • We slow down even more and do mindless tasks even slower than tasks we really need to think of.
  • We end up procrastinating, pushing off that ‘boring’ work. Getting up from a deep work session thinking it’s a ‘good time to get coffee’.

This is where The Falafel Method comes into play.

Introducing: The falafel method for UI design

If there’s anything I’ve learned from the falafel shop, it’s this: the best way to get straightforward things done is just to turn your brain off and do them.

Whenever I’m deep in design work, I try to stay aware of what tasks require my full brain capacity and which don’t.

Whenever I get to a list of tasks that are ‘simple and just need to get done,’ I go into FM (Falafel Maker) mode and do them.

No brain power, just speed. Good work served fast.

Mindless tasks are uncomplicated by nature; they’re not glamorous, but they need to get done.

They’re part of our work.

Be aware of your Job’s Pita bread

So, my suggestion to you is: be aware of your tasks while designing. When you spot it’s time to do mindless tasks of some sort, turn off your brain and throw yourself into it.

You’ll see that tasks that used to take hours don’t have to take more than a few minutes if you focus singularly on getting them done.

Use this method, and I guarantee you’ll claim to be more productive and happy at your work.

Bon Appétit 🙂

Sagi Shrieber




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