If you’re a designer, you probably know all too well the feeling of complete lack of productivity. Whether it’s due to funny and distracting coworkers, a lack of inspiration, or a million administrative tasks—productivity can often be elusive when you most need it. To help you design more and get distracted less, we’ve compiled six tips that will get you started on the path to productivity.
Productivity Photo via Shutterstock
Not planning your work is essentially the same as planning not to work. If you have client projects you need to devote time to, your work plan should include both time set aside to work on each project, and milestones to reach by certain dates. Your daily routine will be easier to follow if you work in the same place every day, or have other routines (morning coffee, perhaps) that help you get in the working mood.
Having an unruly inbox is a recipe for scattered thoughts, missed deadlines, and bad communication in general. Keep your inbox free and clear and you’ll avoid a lot of the pitfalls that keep designers from producing as efficiently as they can. There are a lot of aspects of email management, so refer to this email productivity guide for help on that.
The problem with wanting to do your best is that there’s always room for improvement. Of course, every designer is looking to pad their portfolio, but it’s important to know when a project is done. The old saying “less is more” is often true in the sense that the more you tweak a design, the more you tend to dislike it. Once you feel you’ve finished a project, send it over to the client for review—don’t spend the next two weeks trying to draw something out of your design that isn’t there.
The flip side to perfectionism is procrastination. Sometimes a project seems too daunting, either because of its size or the nature of your client. Sometimes the project seems like it will be boring. Chances are, it’s neither, and you’re just talking yourself out of work. Get started and shut down all of your unnecessary browser tabs, and you’ll find yourself absorbed in work in no time.
A designer is not a lone wolf. While you may work by yourself much of the day, you are always collaborating with clients, getting advice from respected colleagues and friends, and working with accounting departments to invoice. Today’s designer is lucky to have so many cloud-based collaboration tools to simplify things. Have a look at this cloud computing guide if you don’t know where to start your cloud collaboration process.
It’s easy to start churning out the work once you have an idea of what you want to do—getting there isn’t always so simple. Sometimes it’s just a matter of picking a project and making a big dent in it before you go on to another. Sometimes it’s a matter of finding a place that inspires you: a museum, a park, a shop, etc. Just make sure your wanderings don’t cut into your work time.
Whatever you do, make sure you’re having fun. After all, isn’t the point of striking out on your own to enjoy life while you’re making a living? Choose good clients, do good work, and know when to hunker down, and you’ll be sure to have a productive and happy career.