You love what you do, in fact you couldn’t imagine trading your life as a designer for anything else. But sometimes the frustration sets in because staying productive as a designer is tough.
Russian based designer Yevgeny Yermakov had the same problem and to combat it he’s been asking designers a set of five simple questions about their work habits and creative challenges, published on his website 5 Questions for 100 Designers. I’ve distilled the very best advice from the interview series here, so today I’m sharing 15 easy ways to stay productive used by 15 designers. Introduce these tactics to your day and you’re sure to see massive results.
1. Make a List
Make a to do list every single day and refer to it often. It will keep you on track and working in a productive way throughout your day. By making a list you will stop wasting time on deciding what to do next every few hours because it’s already set in your list.
2. Always Carry a Notebook
You never know when inspiration will strike, so always carry a notebook to ensure you are ready to record ideas and designs on the go. As a designer you depend on good ideas and it would be a shame if you forgot one because you had nothing to write it down when it came to you.
3. Exercise to Clear Your Mind
When you’re sitting in front of a screen all day, you’re not getting the exercise your body needs. Make sure you do at least 30 minutes of exercise every day to refresh your mind and stay productive.
4. Use a Timer & Set It Hourly
When you’re working, set a timer on your phone or clock and have it count down hourly. Seeing the time ticking by will keep you on track when distractions are tempting you, keeping you productive all day long.
5. Finish What You Start
Every time you jump to a new task, you waste valuable time and energy by switching your thought patterns and focus. Finish what you start before you begin something new to stay productive.
6. Listen to Music While You Design
Music can have an incredible impact on the way you work. Find music that keeps you working at a steady pace, the genre will be different for everyone so try out different styles to see what works for you.
7. Break Up Screen Time
If you’re a designer it’s likely that a lot of your work is computer based. Even so, try to break up your day with less computer heavy activities (even if it just means a 15 minute break away from the screen). Try paper based sketching or flicking through books for inspiration.
8. Find Your Ideal Time to Work
Everyone’s ideal time to work is different. If you’re a morning person, capitalise on that by rising early. If you’re more of a night owl, then embrace it. Work with your natural rhythms, not against them, to stay productive.
9. Get Out of the House Every Single Day
Being cooped up at home isn’t good for productivity. You’ll end up feeling restless and unproductive if you spend too much time each day in the same room of your house. Get outside and embrace the real world.
10. Take a Break in Nature
Even better than just getting out of the house is taking a break in nature. It could be as simple as a walk to a local park, or some time sitting amongst the trees in your own garden. You’ll return to your work refreshed and productive.
11. Give Yourself Real Deadlines
It’s easy to give yourself the benefit of time, especially when you’re working for yourself, but deadlines are powerful. Set a deadline then work towards meeting it. You might surprise yourself.
12. Create a Checklist
Make a list of things you need to check off to master a project you work on e.g. font style, fabrication or branding. Having a checklist will streamline the process and ensure you maintain a consistent quality in your work.
13. Take Care of You
Take time out for the things in your life that really matter. Make time for family, friends, your health and well-being. These are the things that really matter, and without them your work means little else.
14. Tap Into The Power of Technology
Apps like Evernote, Clear, iCal, Sparrow and Text Expander can help you get organized and keep you on track. Harness it and use it to your advantage.
15. Keep Up The Momentum
Do something every single day to get closer to your goal. Momentum breeds momentum. Once you start you’ll keep gathering pace and your productivity will soar. You will be surprised by how much you have achieved at the end of the year.
Featured photo credit: My Decorative via flickr.com
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