Finding Your Way Through The Fog

Eight years ago, I discovered that I had celiac disease. After this diagnosis, I wanted to learn more about what happens to the bodies and minds of people with this disease. One of the discoveries I made was that celiacs all describe something called “brain fog”.

Brain fog is described as a form of cognitive impairment that can encompass disorientation, problems staying focused, and lapses in short-term memory.

After some light research, I learned that brain fog has no strict definition, and its exact cause is unknown. In a study performed by celiac.org, it was discovered that the level of impairment in patients with celiac disease compared to that of people with blood alcohol levels of 0.05.

Only after changing my diet did I realize that I had been experiencing brain fog for years. After a few months on a gluten-free diet, I found my thoughts to be more clear, I was able to maintain more focus, and my short-term memory had improved.

I find building products and companies to be a lot like experiencing brain fog. In my experience, there seems to be a period with any new venture where we experience similar symptoms. We have a general sense of what we need to build and the customer we’re designing for; however, we can feel disoriented at this stage, and many elements can feel unclear.

Similar to celiac disease, we must first address the root of the problem before the fog can be lifted. Without first addressing the root cause and changing our approach, we risk feeling disorientated for a longer period of time.

So how can we get to the root problem faster? We must first acknowledge that we are stuck in the fog. Much like a person with celiac disease, it’s not our fault that we’re feeling this way. We can’t be expected to know why this is happening, and that’s ok. By first addressing the root cause, we allow ourselves to find clarity.

By focusing on the problem we’re solving and empathizing with users’ pain points, the fog begins to lift. By speaking with potential customers first hand, their problems become clear. By diagnosing the root cause, and changing our approach, the features become apparent and the product roadmap starts to build itself.

If you’re enjoying my articles I would love to hear from you. What would you like to read more of? Feel free to drop me an email at with your thoughts.

I am a design and product guy with a passion for technology & creativity. Head of Product at Creative Layer.

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