As a graphic designer, whether you work in a corporate office, small production house, or as freelance designer, chances are you have a lot to do. So, time management skills are paramount to completing tasks on deadline. As designers, we many times have multiple projects to work on, clients to find, bills to manage, research to do, meetings to go to, and more. If we aren’t careful, time can get away from us and we can find ourselves not accomplishing all that we hope to during the day. So if you want to establish yourself as a go-to graphic designer that is dependable and efficient, try the time-management techniques below:
1. Stick to the Plan
Every evening before leaving the office or every morning before starting the work day, make a plan. Set aside a specific amount of time for each activity to be accomplished. Then stick to your plan. As you plan each day, be sure to fill each time slot with one meaningful activity and one backup plan. That way, if your original plans fall through for some reason, you don’t have to waste time finding something else to do. This will help you divide up your day and accomplish each task you need to with ease.
2. Set your own Boundaries
As a graphic designer, you may be working independently, so determining limits for production time versus social interactions is important. Know when to extricate yourself from an endless meeting by pleading deadlines, and know your personal workload limits.
If you overextend yourself by promising to deliver too many projects in too little time, you are doing your clients and yourself a disservice. Instead, take on only what you can reasonably accomplish in the time allowed, and you won’t find yourself cutting corners or doing substandard work that detracts from your professional reputation.
3. Force Yourself to do the Projects you Hate First
When you are planning out your activities for the day, don’t wait til the last minute to do the projects you dislike the most. Find an even balance between “fun” projects and less fun projects and try to do the projects you are not looking forward to first. After they are out of the way, you will have more time to the projects you are looking forward to without the guilt of an unfinished project in the back of your mind.
4. Break it Down
It can be overwhelming when a client comes to you and proposes you begin work on a new branding project accompanied with print collateral, a web site, and social media campaign. Sit down with your clients (or your creative director) and make sub-deadlines. This will not only help you manage the project more easily, but will also strengthen creativity, limit stress, and provide an effective way to manage progress.
5. Take a Chill Pill
You might get stuck in a creative jam or simply wear out your body on a project. When this happens, get out and do something active. Bike, play video game, or even just get outside, go to the cinema, etc. Anything that will help you get your mind off of the project will make you a much more effective designer when you decide to start up on the project again. (Granted, this is a little more easy for freelance designers, but some agencies or firms will let you take a break in the middle of the day just to help keep the creative juices flowing.
6. Know Thy Self
Try out different routines. If you design better in the morning and research better in the afternoon, try that for a while. If you work better early in the morning, wake up earlier. If your best ideas come to you late at night, try the opposite. Whatever time of day your brain prefers, figure out what it is and give it a try. You might find your work going faster and turning out better.