My guest today is Fabricio Teixeira. Fabricio has led design teams at various agencies over the past 15 years; now he's at Work & Co, a digital product design studio based in Brooklyn, NY. I came to know Fabricio because he’s one of the founders and publishers of UX Collective, one of the largest design and UX online publications. In this episode, we focus on how Fabricio and his partner Caio Braga make UX Collective happen through mindful information management.

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Fabricio: I'm a designer. I've been working on the agency side of things for the last 15 years. I started back in Brazil. Moved to the US, I think, 10 years ago. Lived in Miami New York, San Francisco, and I'm now based in Brooklyn. And as a designer, I'm a more focused on the systematic/functional side of things. And I've always been a maniac when it comes to information organization. So when I heard about your podcast, I was like "this is this is amazing!" I started out as an information architect back in the day, you know, that was a cool name at the time. And to me felt like it was a perfect calling in a way. I've always liked both kind of arts and science, and that whole universe of IA was the best of two worlds for me. So it's kind of bringing it all together.

Jorge: I first got to know about you because you are one of the two founders of a publication that has had a lot of visibility online about UX design, right?

Fabricio: That's right, UX Collective.

Jorge: I had seen your site, and it was very memorable because it used images of polar bears — which I'm very drawn to — and also a very distinctive light blue color. And yeah, so it's very it's got this branding that is very recognizable. And I remember I posted an article on Medium, and you all reached out and asked me to include it in the publication. And that's how I came to be... Well, I had been aware of it before — I recognized it immediately because of the branding — but that's how I came to be more in the loop here. So I'm curious about UX Collective. How does it work?

Fabricio: Sure. So we started UX Collective, I think, twelve years ago. Even more, maybe. When I was starting in UX, and I was learning about the topic, there wasn't a lot of information available in Portuguese at the time — my native language — so I had to learn English to be able to read the blogs that were out there like Boxes and Arrows and A List Apart and all that great stuff. And then I started using my blog as a way to translate what I was learning to my fellow Brazilian designers. So it started really as a tool to document some of the things that I was learning through that journey and then, fast forward a couple years, I was doing that more and more often. I was doing that in English now, and Medium came about and suddenly we became the largest design publication on Medium. So you can imagine how much effort that itself takes, to manage a publication. And the goal for UX Collective has always been giving back to the community some of the content that is available online, right? There's a lot of content online, but at the same time that creates a little bit of noise for designers that are starting in the field. So it's a way for us to curate everything that's going on and give back to the community in a more digestible way, I guess.

Jorge: Yeah, it's a service that you provide. Right?

Fabricio: Right. Yeah.

Jorge: So you talked about a few things there that I'm very intrigued by. One was the fact that the original intent behind UX Collective was to bring to the Brazilian community the stuff that was happening elsewhere in the world. Is that right?

Fabricio: That's right. Yeah,

Jorge: So there was a point where you switched over to English. And you said that you are the largest design publication in Medium and I'm guessing that that would not be the case if it had stayed as a Portuguese publication. So I'm curious about that decision to switch to English. How did it come about?

Fabricio: I think it was part of my journey as a designer, right? I moved to the US and English suddenly became my primary language, and all the vocabulary that I was getting and learning and developing as I was working in design was in English. So it felt like almost like a natural process to start shifting to English. We still publish articles in Portuguese as well. I haven't stopped doing that. But it's interesting how English has become my primary professional language while Portuguese is still my primary personal language in a way.

Jorge: You live in New York. Do you engage day-to-day with a lot of people in Portuguese?

Fabricio: Yeah, there are some Brazilians in our office at Work & Co. So, I get to talk Portuguese at least a little bit every day. But usually the topics we talk about are not exactly work-related, right? Versus English, which is a language I'm using for everything design-related.

Jorge: Right. I'm asking you these questions because I'm curious — for obvious reasons, I think — English is also not my native language. And I'm in a very similar situation to you in that I moved to the US and English became my primary language. You talk about this distinction between work and personal stuff, and in the design field, especially, there's a lot of terminology that doesn't easily translate, right?

Fabricio: True.

Jorge: How do you choose which articles go in Portuguese and which go in English?

Fabricio: That's a really good question. All articles work in English, at least they work well for me in English, and then I pick the ones that make more sense to translate to Portuguese based on kind of the zeitgeist of the Brazilian design community and the discussions that I see happening in the level of maturity of the Brazilian industry. So it's kind of a curation in a way as well picking the ones that I think makes sense to translate. There are some things that are maybe too technical or that talk about a certain technology that it's not as popular in Brazil as it is, you know here in the US. So yeah, I follow I usually follow my instincts to decide what to translate, I guess.

Jorge: Is it just you or do you have a team working with you?

Fabricio: I have a partner, Caio. Also Brazilian. We split our responsibilities on the blog.

Jorge: And are you doing the translation yourselves or do you have folks helping with that?

Fabricio: No, we are. I'm writing at least one article a week in Portuguese.

Jorge: Well, that's amazing. Kudos! So I'm curious... you're running a publication, right? And having been a part of the process from the authoring side, I know that you and Caio have ways of managing this publication and keeping track of what gets published when, I'm guessing. Right? Some kind of editorial schedule? I was hoping that you could tell us about that about the systems and structures that you have in place to help you manage the publication.

Fabricio: Yeah, of course. So just for context: It's a lot of stuff; it's a lot of content. We have the Medium publication where we publish I guess around five or six articles every day and to get to those five articles. I have to read through, you know, 15-20 articles every day to decide what gets published. We also have a newsletter that we send every week with the best links of the week. We have our trend report that we launch at the end of the year. We have mentorship sessions that we offer we have to manage our social accounts; Twitter and Linkedin and Facebook. So it's a lot of effort and the interesting part is I have a full-time job. This my side project; my hobby. but I also have a full-time job. I'm a design director at Work & Co. which is a product design studio in Brooklyn. So it's challenging to manage it all at the same time. And the way I like to think about how to manage information, I think there's a term that's stuck in my head right now... information diet, right? I think I read about it on your blog the first time, and since then I really started paying attention, you know to pay more attention to it. It's so important today, being able to manage how much information you consume every day, the same way one would limit their red meat consumption. It's like it's really essential and I feel like. As consumers not only as a blog editor or as a writer. We have reached a point where we are consuming more information every single day than our brains are able to process, you know. We're scrolling through feeds, we're getting hundreds of emails, and we're being stimulated by video audio and notifications. And there's a lot going on, so that certainly starts to affect our overall well-being as humans. So I'm really mindful of balancing my own information diet and especially having the blog and having my full-time job and being exposed to a lot of information every day, the way I try to organize myself when it comes to managing that amount of information. I try to think about it in three different levels. First, it's the intake piece. Right? What's the right of right amount of information to consume and from which sources? This layer is really about preventing the wrong content or distractions from getting to me the first place. I when I say "wrong," I mean unhelpful content. Then there is like, "cool, the content got to me." And then there's a second layer of, "how do I organize that content with the information that I do need and that I do want to receive every day?" Which is still a lot. How can I organize myself to distribute that information throughout my day, my week, in different mindsets I'm in. So that's the second layer. And then there's a third layer of, "cool, I have a lot of stuff that I have to put out: tweets and posts and emails." And so how do I create efficiencies? How do I automate my workflow as much as possible to be able to keep up with all this all these side projects at the same time. So yeah, that's how my brain kind of breaks down that challenge: intake, organization, and then automation. And then of coursem for each of these layers, I have specific tools that I use and specific mechanisms that have been successful or not as successful.

Jorge: That's fantastic. It's a really clear way of thinking about it. Can you share with us one tool each for these layers? The ones that you feel are most important?

Fabricio: Yeah. The first one is the intake of information. So this is really about curation tools. You're probably similar to me Jorge, but I've been building an RSS feed. I don't know if you use Google Reader... not Google Reader, but Feedly, or Digg Reader, or one of those RSS services. So I've been building that list over the years. That's my primary source of information. Every time I find a reliable blog or site or something, I add that feed to my to my reader. And then I try to balance that with Twitter, which adds to that serendipity aspect of, "let's just follow a few random folks here and see what they're up to you and see what they're talking about." That way, I'm balancing heavy reading and design-related content versus random topics like culture and politics that people are talking about on Twitter. One thing I try to do — kind of a hack that I that I've been doing the last couple years — is just to silence my phone as much as possible. Sometimes it's not about too much information, but it's about information trying to get to you too many times throughout the day, if that makes sense. I think five years ago I redesigned my phone experience to turn off all notifications except for one or two apps, removed the number of icons that I have on my home screen so there's not a lot of visual clutter and information every time I unlock my phone. Removing all those red badges from the app icon, so there's no anxiety or tapping them and opening them. So in a way, it's almost like I designed my technology experience so that it doesn't get in the way of the actual information I want to get access to, if that makes any sense.

Jorge: It sounds like you're configuring your environment so that you can be more in control of your attention, right?

Fabricio: That's right. Yeah, and that's not only around technology. Of course, technology plays an important role there, but being mindful of my surroundings... I always try to keep the books from authors that I admire next to my desk. So I'm always surrounded by that feeling of... It's hard to describe, but even my apartment walls are a hundred percent white; there's no paintings or anything. My desk has as few objects as possible. As a designer, I'm making sure that I'm designing the space around me to avoid too much cognitive load throughout the day.

Jorge: The degree to which our environments and the busyness of the environment impinges upon your ability to be effective. Right?

Fabricio: It's really hard to measure. It's not a quantity, right? It's hard to measure the return over investment over those things because ultimately it's really qualitative. It's really about feeling lighter at the end of the day. I guess that's my KPI, ultimately.

Jorge: I'm wanting to dig a little bit more into the inputs through RSS and Twitter. That sounds very similar to the way that I get my information. And it can be a fire hose, right? Even with RSS like you said. Well, you see something interesting you have to feed to your RSS. There comes a point where there's a lot coming through; I'm wondering what the mechanics are behind saying, "this is one that I need to follow up on." How do you keep track of that?

Fabricio: I usually pick the ones that I'm not going to find... the type of content that I'm not going to find anywhere else, right? Because there's tech news and there's design news. If you open ten different blogs, they're all going to be talking about the same thing. Right? So I know that eventually, I'm going to stumble upon that news or someone going to talk about the latest iPhone or the latest design tool at work or in other places. So I try to curate my feeds to the sources to the type of content. I'm not going to find anywhere else and then what I do is every time I feel that. Oh, there's that's too much content because I'm the feed zero inbox zero type of person. I like to go through everything that I have, but it starts to get overwhelming at some point. So every end of the year, I stop and look back at my feed. I do that across the board. I look at my wardrobe, and I donate things that I'm not using; not wearing. But I also do that on my feeds. I look at my feeds, and I'm like, "well, I haven't really gotten anything super relevant from this blog or from this website." So once a year I make sure I clean up my sources, so I'm not spending too much time on Feedly every day.

Jorge: You publish on UX Collective an end-of-year review of the UX design field that spots patterns and tries to surface the things that you are seeing as being worthy of our attention. And this is getting into your second step which has to do with organizing content. Right? I'm curious how you take that fire hose of content and then start spotting patterns that you will then raise to our attention through UX Collective.

Fabricio: Yeah. So for that second layer, I feel like I have too many tools and hacks that I use some of them are pretty embarrassing. So maybe I'll share the most important ones. So I use a lot of Gmail labels to be able to control all the information that gets to me all the emails and messages that I get. I also use Pocket, the Chrome extension, to save the most exciting and interesting articles. And then I have a whole tagging system. If I tag a certain article as newsletter, it then saves that article to a Google spreadsheet that I can open every weekend to curate the links that I'm going to include in my weekly newsletter. If I tag an article — I forgot the specific tag — but it's almost like if each different tag drives that article to a different workflow. If I tag an article "Twitter," it automatically schedules a tweet with that link using Buffer, which is another management tool that I have. So I've built a system around how to navigate that information and all those links. And then at the end of the year, there's also a tag for that. Usually, Caio and I go back to our bookmarks and to what we feel were the most relevant topics that year, and then we start trying to find patterns: "Okay, what are the 10 biggest topics that the UI and design community talked about this year?" So there's a lot of automation and tools going on.

Jorge: To be clear, you are doing the tagging in Pocket. Is that right?

Fabricio: I am. So I'm saving all the links in Pocket. I'm tagging in Pocket. Then I'm setting up some If This Then That bots to then connect those Pocket links to other services that I use like Buffer, Google Drive, Dropbox, Google Tasks, right? But everything starts from Pocket.

Jorge: Yeah, it sounds like Pocket is the collection bucket where everything goes in.

Fabricio: Yeah.

Jorge: Are you doing the tagging the moment that you save the link, or do you go back?

Fabricio: I read an article and I'm like, "well, this would be a good tweet," so I tag "tweet." "This would be a great fit for the newsletter," so I tag "newsletter," right? So my brain is processing, knowing all the different contexts in which that article, post, whatever can be used. My brain is kind of making the... Almost like the mental mapping of where this could go.

Jorge: You mentioned Google Tasks in there, what role does Google Tasks play?

Fabricio: Oh, it's embarrassing. It's my brain. It's where I put all my to-do items. Like everything that I have to do, I save there, which is interesting. I mean, it's going to be silly, but even like getting a haircut is there every two weeks, three weeks. It's about habit-forming. So now I have this instinct that every time I think, "oh, yeah, I have to do that!," my brain immediately connects to Google Tasks. So I open Google Tasks, and I write down whatever I have to do there. And then I can pick a specific date or due date, or I can make it recurring or not recurring. That's where I outsource a lot of my brain power my memory power, especially.

Jorge: I don't think it's embarrassing at all. In fact, I think it corresponds to the drive you were describing earlier to create a physical environment that respects your attention.

Fabricio: That's right.

Jorge: Are you familiar with the work of David Allen?

Fabricio: I'm not, no.

Jorge: Getting Things Done?

Fabricio: Oh, okay. I've seen something.

Jorge: So in the Getting Things Done methodology or approach one of the things that Mr. Allen talks about is getting the tasks that you have to do out of your head and onto lists.

Fabricio: Yeah.

Jorge: And he uses this martial arts metaphor. He says, you want to have "mind like water" — where your mind is still, right? And you're not troubled by all this stuff rattling around in your head. And I think that that's a similar drive to what you were describing with the white walls in your apartment.

Fabricio: Yeah, that's exactly right. Yeah. It's about having peace of mind so that I can focus on the right things throughout the day.

Jorge: Great. So there's a third layer to this which is sharing the information back. And I'm particularly curious about how you and Caio collaborate on things like that end-of-year report.

Fabricio: Yeah, not only the report, but also we get like 25 or 30 emails every day from authors; Medium writers submitting or pitching an article idea for UX Collective. So, that itself is a lot of work, and I'm so thankful to Caio for helping me manage that. We have a shared email address that is the blog's email address, and we are CC'ed on every exchange so we know the emails that the other person has responded or not. That helps a lot. We also have Gmail response template. I think they're called "canned responses" and that helps a lot, right? Because we have a response for, "Great, your article is approved! Here are the next steps." We have a template for, "Well this article is not a good fit for reasons X, Y, & Z." So there's a bunch of different templates we've created over the years, and that helps a lot because it takes away 95% of the work so we can focus on the more custom messages and the more custom article editing for specific articles. And then, the other tool in the third layer of putting content out that I use a lot is Buffer. I think I mentioned it briefly. It's this social media scheduling tool. I have my Twitter, I have the blog's Twitter, I have LinkedIn and Facebook and all the different social channels that I'm posting every day. But at the same time, I have a full-time job to keep up with, so I'm essentially pre-scheduling all the posts once a week, usually over the weekend. And then what it does is that it randomizes the times where it tweets something or where we post to LinkedIn something, and that helps a lot.

Jorge: It sounds like you have built yourself a system that allows two people to really do a lot, right?

Fabricio: Yeah.

Jorge: What about the writing itself? Are you doing that directly on Medium or does it start somewhere else?

Fabricio: That's usually on Medium. Yeah. I haven't found a way to automate that piece. So this is about really blocking some time, usually every Saturday morning for two or three hours. Sitting down with a good cup of coffee in silence and just writing. I usually use Medium for that because I love the interface and how simple it is. I'm usually writing two articles every week.

Jorge: I'm tremendously impressed by the system that you have described, and I'm wondering what aspects of it are not working as well as you would like. Can you tell us about a time when the system failed?

Fabricio: It fails quite often, but it's never a big fail. There are a couple of instances where maybe Caio and I respond to the same email because we forgot to CC our shared email address. There are little things like that. But it's not a problem because both of us are usually very aligned in terms of our editorial guidelines. So it's usually the same response that we sent to the author. Stepping back a little bit, what I consider a fail in this whole system is when I feel like I'm using too much time to do something that I could be automating more. This whole system is created around giving myself time. I feel like time is our most precious resource. It's not money; it's time. So, every couple of months I have this feeling that "oh my God, I'm spending like one hour every day to manage the blog. That's a lot of time!" You know, I want to use this time to spend with my family, with my friends, or just keeping my brain idle, or play video games, or whatever. So that's why I feel like the system is failing me: when all these tools and mechanisms are starting to take too much time. So then, when I see that's happening, what I usually do is I start to rethink how I'm spending each hour of my day. Take a look at my daily and weekly tasks to see if there's any opportunity to automate some of that work. Take a look at all at all the initiatives and all the commitments that I have running in parallel or the side projects to see if there's anything I need to stop doing. And that's usually when the cost-benefit is not as great as you used to be when I started that project. So I feel like every three to six months that's system starts to fail and then I have to take action to quickly recover from there.

Jorge: Thank you so much, Fabricio. I think this is a good place to end it: on time. I am thankful for yours — for having shared your time with us. I'm very impressed and congratulate you on what you and Caio have built.

Fabricio: Thank you for inviting me. And congratulations to you as well. I'm impressed with how you're able to keep up with your blog and how you're able to put out at least an article every day. I'm a big fan; a big follower. So here's a suggestion: you should do an episode talking about your own tools as well.

Jorge: Interesting. We might do another one where we turn the tables. That will come in the future sometime. So tell the folks where they can find you and read more about your work.

Fabricio: It's essentially at the UX Collective; that URL is And our main project right now is our newsletter that we send out every week and you can access that on

Jorge: Thank you so Fabricio, this has been great.