Ten tips to help designers get stuff done faster

These are the ten tips you’ve been looking for to help you get through that ‘To Do’ list faster.

It’s a simple fact that good design takes time. But when you’re managing multiple clients, competing deadlines and working with equipment that seems to be deliberately slowing you down, the simplest processes seem to take forever.

If you’re a graphic designer, web designer or anyone else working in a creative agency environment, these top ten tips might help you squeeze some more minutes out of your day or fit that extra design iteration in.

1.    File management

We’re tackling this scary monster first, because if you can nail efficient file management, you can skip the rest of the list. Here’s how to do it:

  • Choose a naming convention and stick to it
  • If you’re working in a digital agency, make sure everyone understands the file management system
  • If you’re a freelance designer, carefully consider your file storage options. How do you archive files? This stuff is boring admin, but doing it right eliminates a lot of frustration

2.    Use a grid template

There are a variety of free digital design grid templates you can download. If you’re working on responsive web design, a good grid template is essential.

3.    Make a list

Use pen and paper, iPhone notes, a Google sheet – it doesn’t matter. Making a list is the single best way of understanding what needs to get done each day.

4.    Prioritise

This is very closely connected to our third tip above. Once you’ve made that list, examine everything on it and decided which is the most critical.

5.    Do the hard stuff first

We all procrastinate and when you see something on your ToDo list or job schedule that you know you’re going to hate – it’s really easy to leave it and hope it disappears. It won’t. The sooner you do it, the sooner you can forget about it.

6.    Use a countdown timer

Nothing puts the pressure on like watching a clock countdown. The key is not to use it all the time. Break your task into 45-min chunks, set the timer and go.

7.    Take a proper break

The experts are agreed, sitting at a computer all day is not good for your health and it does nothing for the creative process. Get up, get out of the office and have a proper 10-minute break.

8.    Use keyboard shortcuts

Mastering shortcuts can shave minutes off simple everyday tasks. Photoshop, Illustrator and all the other digital design applications have keyboard shortcuts that work as effectively as touch typing. Once you learn them, they become automatic. You’ll work faster without even trying.

9.    Keep your hardware working at peak performance

If you’re in an in-house digital designer, make sure your system admin/ICT manager is aware of computer hassles as soon as they arise. If you’re a freelance designer, this is another role you need to fulfil yourself. It’s not difficult, but you do need to allocate time to do a routine disk cleanup and OS update – at the very least.

10. Delegate

Have a look at that list again. Are you sure there is no-one else who can do these tasks? All great business leaders delegate. Graphic designers are known to have control-freak tendencies, but learning to delegate and collaborate with your colleagues is a win-win for all concerned.

After more than 10 years designing a wide range of websites and developing web applications, we’ve got design productivity processes down to a fine art. To experience the difference an award-winning digital agency can make to your business, contact us today.

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