As a graphic designer, time management skills are paramount to completing tasks on deadline. Whether you work as a freelance designer, for a specialty graphics firm or for a newspaper, the ability to produce professional graphics to your clients’ specifications is key to building your career. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the graphic design industry is highly competitive; so if you want to establish yourself as a go-to graphic designer that is dependable and efficient, try the time-management techniques below.
1. Establish your own boundaries
As a graphic designer, you may be working independently, so determining limits for production time versus social interactions is important. Know when to extricate yourself from an endless meeting by pleading deadlines, and know your personal workload limits.
If you overextend yourself by promising to deliver too many projects in too little time, you are doing your clients and yourself a disservice. Instead, take on only what you can reasonably accomplish in the time allowed, and you won’t find yourself cutting corners or doing substandard work that detracts from your professional reputation.
2. Chunk it
A classic time management strategy is breaking a large, unwieldy job into manageable chunks. You can group these chunks by category, for example resizing images or inserting text, and take care of them all at once. Chunking also allows you to prioritize pieces in order of importance, and if you happen to head the graphic design department, you can delegate the less important tasks to your employees.
3. Put yourself under pressure
If you are like many creative people, you work best under pressure, whether brought to bear by a looming deadline or by an impatient boss. By setting some optimistic goals, generate positive energy and boost productivity.
One way to manufacture pressure is to allot less time to a task than it would normally take. For example, challenge yourself to deliver projects a day or two before they are due. Promise to turn in the artwork for an ad as soon as you can possibly manage. Accept an extra task or two.
4. Train yourself
Train yourself to work quicker with the prospect of rewards. When you anticipate a mocha latte as a treat for completing a complicated design, you are likely to work harder and more efficiently. The reward does not have to be food or a beverage; it could be a new article of clothing or tickets to a baseball game. The most important thing is that you want it enough to work harder for it. Before long, you will become accustomed to working at a faster, more efficient pace. That does not mean you should stop rewarding yourself, though.
5. Create creative shortcuts
Determine which tasks you perform several times each work day. Then, create shortcuts that reduce the time you spend on each task. For example, you could change the defaults on the graphics software you are using to streamline and standardize routine work. Selecting fonts, ruler guides, text styles and graphic standards for each page in advance shaves precious production time and boosts your creative output. You could customize templates for daily design tasks that you only have to update with new content. You can also create a step-by-step checklist to follow each time you perform the same routine work.
With good time management strategies, your work will benefit and so will your career. Establishing boundaries, chunking large projects, applying pressure on your own terms, rewarding yourself and creating shortcuts all contribute to the quality and quantity of the graphics you produce, giving you the boost you need to improve your career prospects.