It’s unrealistic to think that you can be productive 100 percent of the time.
Designers, unlike other professionals, are often expected to be able to come up with exciting and inspiring ideas, seemingly on command.
When you’re in a rut, instead of hitting the panic button, check out some of these productivity tips.
While the dilemmas of a designer can’t be fixed by few simple tools, they can be greatly improved with the help of some valuable, time management resources. So the next time you’re in a rut, instead of hitting the panic button, check out some of these productivity tips.
Stick With One Task
Research indicates if you want to get the job done, it’s best to avoid interruptions like taking phone calls or answering emails. One recent study also found that multitasking can increase fatigue, which can dull your creativity.
Productivity Tip: Turn off your email, log out of Twitter and Facebook, turn your phone to silent and give yourself a set amount of time to work.
Set Email Boundaries
It’s easy to get tangled up in responding to emails. Simply Business has an email productivity guide that can help you concentrate on the task at hand. When you’re in the middle of a design project, there’s no reason to disrupt your workflow by checking emails.
Productivity Tip: Designate two or three times throughout your day when you check, compose and respond to email messages. By setting up anauto-respond note indicating your email maintenance schedule, you’re less likely to anger anyone who expects an instant response.
Download an Assistant
When you have multiple clients, you know how confusing it can be to keep track of the hours you put in for each job, especially when you implement some of the tips here and allow yourself time to take breaks and recharge. Using time-tracking software will let you spend more time working and less time doing calculations and looking for scraps of paper that you’ve jotted your hours on.
Productivity Tip: Download a program like Toggl – it takes just 12 seconds to set up. A tiny taskbar sits on your desktop and you click on the “record” button when you start working. Click again to stop the clock.
Feed Your Creativity
While you should avoid pointless web crawling, especially if you’re on deadline, most creative people know that keeping up on industry news or going to favorite websites that have nothing at all to do with your work can inspire you and help clear your head, both of which can do wonders for when you’re feeling blocked.
Productivity Tip: Keep a folder of favorite industry blogs and take 30 minutes or so each morning to read up on news and advancements in the field. You’re bound to get an idea or two a day. In a separate folder, keep a list of links to sites that take your mind off of design completely so your head can get a much-needed break when you have brain fog.
Leave your desk
Have you ever been at the gym and were suddenly stricken with an amazing idea? What about when driving home from running errands and an amazing idea occurs to you? Notice how those same moments of inspiration don’t happen as frequently or with the same intensity as when you’re at your desk? Stepping away from your work could be exactly what you need for that next amazing idea to strike.
Productivity Tip: Keep a notepad with you so you can jot down or sketch those thoughts when you’re out. Or carry a recorder for when you’re driving and can’t put your thoughts down on paper. Most smartphones come with a rudimentary recording app. You can also use an app like Evernote that has some nifty bells and whistles like the ability to snap photos or add written notes to your recorded thoughts.
So the next time you need to pound out a project, make sure to avoid interruptions (IE phones, recreational sites), ration your use of email and keep track your time. In order to limit the temptation for distractions, give yourself breaks by scheduling creative or recreational times to check your favorite blogs or sites. The goal is not to necessarily eliminate all creative distractions, but to limit when and how they’re used.