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10 Ways for Designers to Boost Productivity

November 13, 2009 • By

All designers who wish to succeed at one point or another aim for ways to boost their productivity levels. Many of us spend a great deal of time searching for the right tools, and a lot of these end up setting you back one way or another. Part of being a designer also means you’ll have to deal with criticism. And as you begin to gain more experience you’ll soon realize that you’re your best critic. In order to boost your level of production you’ll need to asses the areas in which you need to improve on.

A large portion of designers enjoy the freedom of setting their own schedules and establishing their own work ethics. However, the more freedom you have, the easier it gets to convert into a procrastinator. Being able to squeeze the benefits out of your workday may be a tough thing to crack, however, fear no more because we’ve provided you with 10 Ways to boost your productivity. Enjoy!

Planning and Executing

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Realizing that planning isn’t short-term rather a continuous process for designers is key. Simply said, uneventful planning will inevitably lead to disappointment. If you don’t set any goals, then nothing will seem worthy of our time. Practicing good planning by creating goals is a good way to keep you focused and on track.

Once you’ve developed a mature plan, you have to know how to manage the time you need to execute your planning. This is where you’ll find a good magnitude of applications that will help you out with time management. Knowing how long it takes you to complete certain tasks allows you to not only better your planning, but streamline your productivity as well.

Hocus, Focus, Focus!

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If you’re a web and gaphic design odds are you’re staring at a computer for a great deal of time. This leaves you open for immense distraction. If possible find use of working offline once you’ve conducted the amount of research needed. Try to finish as much as you can offline and then connect as you find it appropriate to. It’s better to do one task at a time.

Multi-tasking isn’t always beneficial, in-fact when you multi-task your attention span is all over the place. You wouldn’t ever get as much done this way. Not to mention, that the level of quality within your work will suffer as well. Also, try not to surf the Internet that often, and use RSS feeds in order to have the same articles or posts you’d need to look-up sent directly to you.

Evaluating Your Environment

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The less appealing your work environment is, the harder it will be to stomach producing efficient work. Make sure that your desk, chair and keyboard are placed at a comfortable angle. This can keep you from easily falling asleep and in return getting much more done. Strive towards making sure your posture and comfort level are working out for the best. Working in a bad environment from all aspects, can hurt you physically, and also bring your production level down.

Outsourcing at Your Service

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You shouldn’t be ashamed in wanting to hire or seek help. Truth is there’s a great amount of workers that are willing to work for you remotely for half the cost. Outsourcing can be very effective, and pays in the end. By using this step, you’re able to search for more projects and work on them for the full amount you charge. However, the more you outsource the easier it gets to settle for mediocrity and compromise quality. Make sure you have enough time to overlook, inspect and edit your outsourced project before you submit it to a client.

Killing Communication

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Email, phone, twitter, facebook, and more have a one thing in common; they can easily distract you from what you need to get done. Whether you like to hear it or not, it’s best to completely turn off your Internet connection and/or phone in order to spike productivity. Realistically speaking, you’ll end up getting a lot more done, and you eliminate possible distractions.

Try to give yourself ample amount of time, whether in the morning or night time in order to review new mail. This will keep you from letting most of your work time go to waste.

Prioritizing for the Elite

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By starting your work day un-prioritized you’re asking for frustration rather than a productive day. With prioritizing we realize that it’s important to make some sort of To-Do List that will help you place items in order of importance. This will help you visualize everything you need to get done. We think better when we see something, with this being said, it’s much more effective if you can actually “see” what you need to accomplish.

Successful prioritizing often requires you to go above and beyond when it comes to your daily goals. If you’ve finished the items you needed to get done on time, then start another task that you would normally get to at a later time. This will allow you to free-up a lot of time by the end of your work week, and you will always be one step ahead of where you would be.

What Are My Distractions?

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Just as we spoke in the first section (planning and executing), we see that tracking your time is a valuable addition to your arsenal for increased productivity. Not only is tracking your time effective, but it also allows you to get a much better look at what’s really distracting you. Either way, whether you’re tracking your time or not, it’s vital to identify and address your distractions accordingly. Ending distractions will result in finishing your work load on time, and this will also help you realize any weaknesses you may have.

Physical Expectations

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In order for you to be productive you need to eat well balanced meals that will provide your body with enough energy to fuel your work day. Sitting at your computer munching on a bag of chips and downing a bottle of coke isn’t exactly what you would call healthy. Although many designers feel “obligated” to have food next to them at all times, make sure you make the right choices in your diet. Eating much healthier foods will definitely increase your odds of reaching full productivity.

It’s also important to get out of your chair, stretch for a few minutes, and get a breath of fresh air. This will stimulate your muscles and allow you to get refocused on what it is you’re trying to work on. Taking a quick walk, a drive, or working in different areas of your house/office often produces better chances at productivity as well.

Basic & Easy Accounting

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If you’re a freelance designer odds are you work with some type of invoicing application. It’s best to have a sound method for tracking your income as well as your expenditures. One of the most popular tools made specially for this is the ever popular FreshBooks. However, you can always stick to a more basic approach and use simple yet powerful applications such as Excel.

Creating a catchy design and set of rules for your invoices will not only look professional but will save you large amounts of time when it comes to collecting payment from a client. The receipt of money is one of most important aspects, however it shouldn’t be the most complicated and straneous of all. Keep it simple.

It’s Been Real

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Part of being productive requires you to overcome stress. Many designers often have more then they can handle on their plate. And with the given amount of time, they end up feeling the pressure because they’ve set goals that are humanly impossible to reach. This is where being realistic and not over doing your expectations comes in handy. Having unrealistic expectations will dramatically decrease the quality of your work.

Remembering that you’re human and by that, assigning work and setting goals that can be accomplished is key. By having too much work stuffed into your day, this will reap unimpressive results. Ultimately, this could end your reputation, drive away good clients, and disintegrate your skills.

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