Last updated on April 24th, 2020
Graphic designers are creative people who consistently look for new design ideas and always come up with unique as well as impressive work. Being a designer, they require to create a balance between creativity and productivity for a lucrative career in this profession. They need to adopt some tactics to make themselves more productive without sacrificing anything on the creativity front. Therefore, in this article, we’ve shared 41 productivity hacks that can help them to become creative and efficient day by day.
The loss of productivity is a big issue for both freelance graphic designers and those who work as a part of a designing team in a company setup. Very few of them meet their set design goals in terms of quantity and quality. The rest of them are seen consistently struggling with productivity issues.
In many companies, the team managers often have no clue about how to encourage the designers to work more and be creative. As a result, they fail to explore their full potential and often miss deadlines. In this article, you’ll explore why designers struggle with productivity issues and what they can do to overcome by being productive and creative at the same time.
Why Designers Struggle With Productivity Issues?
Many reasons can be cited for designers not coming up with enough quantity of work regularly. For instance, distraction is a key common factor. Modern designers confront with several types of distractions. Social media is the biggest of them as designers habitually check various social channels from time to time, which hampers their ability to focus and productivity.
Sometimes, designers become lethargic due to the repetitive design process. For them, designing becomes a mechanized way to create something daily. This may lead to a loss of interest in what they do while working on a design project.
Moreover, the lack of incentives from the organization may also be a cause for the professionals underperforming. There are many more reasons for the designers not performing up to their full potential.
However, designers as individuals and working with a team can take some steps to resolve the productivity issues and avoid creativity block using graphic design hacks. Just as we smartly deal with our day-to-day issues of life, designers can also increase their work productivity by adopting some key strategies.
Here Are Some Proven Productivity Hacks To Help Designers Work More Efficiently
01. Track And Manage Your Time
Many designers, like most of us, spend their valuable time on social media, watching YouTube videos, or playing online games. So, keep a tab on how much time you are wasting on the non-productive activities. This will make you more aware of the value of your time and will help bring your focus back to your main job of creating designs.
02. Prioritize Each Task
The most important design tasks must be at the top of your priority list. It also gives you a sense of urgency as the deadline for these works may be approaching nearer. This way, you can avoid suddenly start working on the least important tasks. You can make multiple such lists for a single project. You can start the day’s work immediately as you already know your priorities.
03. Manage Your Projects
Give 15-30 minutes at the start of the day to managing your projects. This you should especially do if you are busy with multiple projects. Just go over all those tasks and make sure that you are working on them as per the schedule.
04. Take Regular Breaks
Sometimes, working tirelessly on a design project ultimately becomes irritating, and it leads to loss of productivity. Therefore, when pondering about how to become more creative, do not forget to include taking breaks regularly as a strategy to re-energize your creative powers.
Just walk around, talk to someone, grab a cup of coffee, or indulge in other exciting activities for a change. It is a proven tactic to come back to work with renewed focus.
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05. Share Your Opinion
There are many aspects of a design project that a design team must first discuss thoroughly. So, share your thoughts early when the project work is in the initial stage. Encourage your team members to share their opinions so that they work with a clarity of mind.
06. Shut Off The Internet
The Internet is the most significant source of distraction for creative people. If you struggle to focus on the task, just disconnect your Internet, turn off the apps that consume your lot of time, and shut off your Wi-Fi. Soon you will find your productivity level soaring.
07. Set A Timer
You have to keep the deadlines in mind while working on design projects. Often, it is stressful for creative people if they fail to follow the work schedule. Therefore, you have to force yourself into working on the project.
It is advisable to set a timer that will remind you of the amount of time you should be devoting toward a particular design work. The timer will keep you focused on the job.
08. Keep A Notebook
Designers often delay creative work as they wait for some inspirational graphic design ideas to strike their minds. So, keep a notebook or sketchbook and write your thoughts so that you do not finding them hard to remember.
09. Clear The Clutter
Most designers keep their work station well organized so to maintain a high focus level. But many of them forget to clean their desktop of multiple tabs that remain open on their browser. They are responsible for the distraction. Close all those tabs and remove the downloads and images to make your home screen free of clutter.
10. Process The Tasks As They Come In
One of the most effective ways to enhance productivity is to act upon the task requests instantly. For instance, if you read an email, you should either act on it right away or assign it a time when you should take action on it. Similarly, if a graphic design request comes in, you should work on it quickly. Or, add that task to your schedule.
11. Outsource The Minor Tasks
Your main concern and focus should be the most critical design project, which is also your core interest. But many minor design related tasks also consume your lot of time that ultimately impacts your productivity potential.
Therefore, outsource these trivial but still must-do tasks. These tasks may be removing a background from a product photo, color correction, and photo retouching, converting a raster logo to vector, etc. You can then devote your entire time to the main design work that you think is important.
12. Browse Design Galleries
Sometimes, designers take a long time to get inspiration for a design project. But if you visit design galleries online while taking a coffee break or entertaining yourself, you go through hundreds of design ideas.
Many such designs are inspirational and give you new ideas. Think of visiting the Designhill gallery of design and artworks from designers and artists. They have displayed their unique works on the galleries and their online stores in this marketplace.
13. Use The Timeboxing Technique
Timeboxing is a time management technique that allows you to devote a fixed time on a particular design task. So, allot a specific amount of time for completing an activity regarding the design task.
You give a certain number of hours or days to finish the project. This management tool thus commits you to work on a project promptly and helps meet the deadlines.
14. Know Your Circadian Rhythm
Circadian rhythms are physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a daily cycle. Many of us have a particular time of the day when we feel energetic and full of creative ideas.
We all have this unique circadian rhythm. Find out which are the happiest hours of the day when you are full of energy to work on challenging tasks.
Then, schedule your most important design tasks for the hours when you are charged up. Similarly, do the low energy tasks at the time you generally are less vibrant.
15. Avoid Unproductive Meetings
Meetings are part of doing a design project. In companies, designers often take meetings to discuss a complex issue. But sometimes these very meetings turn into unproductive if they take too much of your quality design time.
During the meets, grabbing a cup of coffee and then talking on the non-issues also becomes a norm. Therefore, schedule the meetings, if necessary to take, on your low energy time.
16. Check Emails At A Set Time
One of the biggest hurdles in producing more design works is the habit of frequently checking emails. Many studies have revealed that the Millennials check their phone for an average 150 times a day. So, if you are checking your emails and messages frequently, then it is a worrisome factor from the productivity point of view.
Most of us are also refreshing our inbox. Get rid of this habit gradually to bring your focus and time to your main design job. Avoid checking emails for more than two times a day.
17. Use Software To Automate Some Actions
As a creative designer, you can automate some of the works that you so frequently do. Use some software to do those tasks more quickly and easily to complete them.
Many such apps are available online to make your workflow automated and efficient. You can custom setup the apps as per your requirements. This will help you save a lot of your precious time that you can spend on the main design works.
18. Collaborate With Other Designers
You may have friends who specialize in some specific design skills that you or your team may not have at present. Instead of delaying your project work by first having those skills, use your connection with your friends.
Take their help in performing those tasks. You should also reach out to the designers and send direct messages to them about the work projects you have. This will help complete your project on time.
19. Keep In Touch With Clients
One of the hurdles in doing more design projects consistently is that the designers often lose touch with the client for a long time. This builds mistrust and confusion. When you haven’t talked to the client for many days, some misunderstanding is bound to emerge, and it can even derail a big design project.
So, let your client know about the progress you are making on the project. Clear your doubts immediately with the client on a design issue.
20. Use Project Management Software
Fortunately, modern graphic designers have access to many project management apps. These help manage your day-to-day design tasks efficiently.
Some of these apps are Trello, Daylite, Basecamp, Streamline, Asana, and Podio. You can work in a well-organized manner with your team using these apps.
21. Access Cloud-Based Services
How about exploring a SAAS app to streamline your design workflow. You may take time to set up the components, but after you have done it, you will complete many of the projects a lot faster and easier. Google Apps, Dropbox, MailChimp, Slack, Hubspot are some of the SAAS apps you can think of using for the workflow.
22. Share Files Instantly
You know a lot about how to design, but equally important is that you do not take more than the required time to send your files to the client. Use some popular services such as Google Drive and Dropbox to share your design files in the cloud with clients. There are many such file-sharing tools available online. You can save a lot of your precious time in this way.
23. Work With Efficient Designers
How about taking help from some proficient graphic designers to complete your design project? You can find many such professional designers at Designhill, the leading creative marketplace.
At this site, find out the skillful designers to work one-to-one with them. Assign them some of your vital design jobs of the projects and get the work done quickly and on time.
24. Set Up Workspaces
You should learn how to customize your different app workspaces to make design work much more manageable. These include Photoshop workspace and Illustrator’s workspace.
Customize these workspace setups to suit your design works. For instance, customize the tools for typography in Illustrators as per your design requirements.
25. Use Graphic Templates
Graphic templates are a great time saver. They are useful when you wish to use the same document multiple times to kickstart your design projects. You can create templates for a particular design work that you repeatedly do. Designhill is home to several templates for almost all of your design works.
26. Keep A Library Of Files Accessible
Often, designers are seen wasting their time in finding out vital design files from an unknown source. They save the files somewhere and later forget it. But think of keeping the most used files and your textures in one artboard or one file that you can access instantly from PS or AI. For designers who work in a team, they can keep the files accessible through Dropbox or other such apps.
27. Use Keyword Shortcuts
Keyword shortcuts are another useful way to save your valuable time. You should use keyword shortcuts in graphic apps such as Photoshop that you use regularly. Think of creating your shortcuts for any design work that you frequently create. Learn how to create custom keyboard shortcuts in Illustrator.
28. Learn Batch Processing
When using Photoshop for design purposes, learn how to use batch processing. This will enable you to process hundreds of files in no time. You can change all file times and resize them, apply compression, and do multiple such tasks quickly using this automation tool.
29. Opt For Standard Operating Procedures
Turn all the online tools you have into workflows to help your team do its daily design assignments quickly and efficiently. This is especially useful when you have a huge amount of design work to deal with daily.
When you turn the tools into your workflows, you get guidance on how your business operates. You can also get help for hiring staff to complete different design tasks that you may be doing currently on your own.
30. Make A Checklist
One of the most effective productivity hacks is to make checklists. Checklists are highly useful in standardizing workflows and keeping on the day’s tasks you need to accomplish. You can meet your quality goals in this way.
Checklists will surely help you keep an eye on the progress of your design projects. When more members join your team, making a checklist becomes even more important.
31. Set Step By Step Actions For Your Tasks
When your design business grows, you need to track how your sales, marketing, and interaction strategies are working. For that, you should prepare guidelines for your team to follow so that every procedure critical to your business is standardized.
32. Add Keyword Shortcuts
Keyword shortcuts make your design works a lot easier as you do not have to take a long route to perform the tasks. So, add one keyboard shortcut to your workflow and practice a little before adding another keyword shortcut.
33. Reward Yourself And Team
Rewards are amongst the powerful ways to encourage people to work more efficiently. Whenever you or your team complete an assignment, give yourself a treat with a coffee or something else.
Take a couple of minutes to recognize your team’s efforts toward accomplishing the job. You should take this positive momentum to make the next change you will plan.
34. Set New Targets
Make sure that you analyze your goals and set the new ones. That is also a proven tactic to motivate your team and yourself. It not only rewards emotionally but also motivates and challenges to meet new targets.
35. Learn To Trust Others
Sometimes, you may think of getting all the credit for the work due to some ego issues with you. But to perform well as a team of designers, you leave your ego behind and instead allow your colleagues or employees to enjoy the responsibilities of doing their job on their own.
You should learn to delegate and give others the power to make design-related decisions and execute them. You should not be indulging in micromanaging everything. Give your team members a free hand and do not interfere every time.
36. Use Two Monitors
If possible, use two monitors to streamline your workflow. On the one monitor, you can keep a creative Cloud program open while on the other screen, open your communication, and visual inspiration apps. With one monitor, you have to switch back and forth that consumes a lot of your valuable time. With two monitors you can save work time.
37. Draw Vectors Using Adobe Draw
You are no longer restricted to your laptop these days to draw vectors. You can use Adobe Draw, which is now well equipped with new drawing app Adobe Ideas. With it, you can even create vector designs on iPhone and iPad and automatically sync these files with Photoshop and Illustrator.
38. Do User Testing
To increase your productivity, you should understand the key advantages of user testing. User testing helps in resolving the issues early when you are in the prototyping process and do not want to take a longer time to make UX decisions. Many online tools, such as UserZoom and Validately, are available for user testing.
39. Create User Personas
Another useful design productivity hack is to create user personas. This means that you should first know who is the user of your designs. You have the clarity of thought when tackling a design issue.
With a user persona, you can have a clear picture of what your users’ needs are so that you know who are the target users of your designs. You can thus speed up the workflow. You can create a user persona with little research and analysis.
40. Ensure Color Management
Graphic designers should implement better color management in their workflow. With proper management of colors, you can reduce the chances of failure while working on a design project. Learn how to do color management effectively.
41. Learn To Convince Clients
After you have created a design to the best of your ability, the job does not end there. You still have to convince the clients that the design suits their brand. The clients will not accept a design just because you say that it looks cool.
So, one of the productive hacks for the designers is that they should learn how to convince clients about the usefulness of the design. You should learn how to present an overview of your design process and how to justify your design when clients ask questions.
So, these are the crucial productivity hacks that graphic designers can explore to increase the amount of work they put in daily. With these tips, they can surely make things easy for themselves at their workplace. With less stressful work tactics, they can immerse themselves in more quality design tasks.
Graphic designers have to produce a greater amount of work daily as individuals or as a team. But it takes a lot of time to complete a design project if you are unaware of the ways to quicken the process. These productivity hacks are useful in reducing your time considerably in creating unique designs. You can produce more meaning design works in a given time frame with some productivity-enhancing tricks.