Hello! I’d like you to know I enjoyed reading your story!
If I can add one thing that worked for me in terms of benchmarking my UX workflow and finding areas for improvement — I like to do some lightweight data gathering on things I do.
For example I measure time it takes me to complete a task, be it creating a persona, preparing a survey, coming up with a prototype of a screen for an app. I also try to find a way of measuring the success of my work, mostly by gathering feedback etc.
I can then see that some tasks take me a certain amount of time to complete and I can look for ways to improve without sacrificing on quality.
I think it’s also important (at least to me) to be able to tell my future employer that I can consistently deliver work on a certain quality level. Measuring those aspects allows me to see what it actually means to be consistent. For example, I can say, that when I’m looking for users who would want to see a prototype and share feedback, I’m successful in getting around 30–40% of the people I talk to to do the task and share feedback.
I’ve written a story recently about this approach, if you are interested: Benchmarking your UX workflow: using stats to measure your consistency