The hardest thing in work is when there's a limitation to conduct user research. There might be no perfect person to reach out to, or you might have difficulty bringing participants to the actual scenario (for example, design for outdoor camping experience).
My solution is "projection." Always projecting the problem to a game scenario helps participants feel more involved, trigger more creative inspirations, as well as reduce budget!
For the camping example, I can build a LEGO campground with all little widgets and let users finish certain tasks by controlling their LEGO character. Then, observing how users finish those tasks with their LEGO buddy can mimic their flow in the real world and help with the original project.
Experience with FlowMapp: Has a free FlowMapp account for a personal project