Productivity tips for a web designer
As a web designer, whether you work as a freelancer or in a daily job, you probably have a lot of experience rushing to meet deadlines. And if you’re like me, most of that rush is self-induced. Let’s say you have a job to deliver, and a comfortable deadline to meet, yet somehow, you always find yourself working all night or some other ridiculous work marathon to get the job done, it gets even worse the more jobs you get, sometimes it can feel a little like juggling a lot of glass balls, each falling faster and faster, with no respite in sight. If all these describes then this article is for you, and you’ll learn some great tips that help you regain control and be more productive without the added pressure of deadlines.
Devise a System
The first thing I advise is that you need a system. If you take a critical look at your web design business or career, you’ll most likely see that there’s a lot of haphazardness and unpredictability surrounding how you work. You most likely do the work you like when you like, and the work you really don’t like when there is a deadline. The result, you end up doing a lot of work, yet not making significant progress. Creating a system sounds complex, but it really isn’t. You can start by looking at how you work right now. What aspects of your design do you enjoy the most, chances are that you spend the most time on that aspect, and what aspects do you spend less time on. Are you a front or back end person? Are you more concerned with the aesthetics or the coding? Knowing how you work will help you identify how best to move forward. Try to answer a few simple questions, how long do you work at a go? When you work, what are the most likely and probable decisions that you are always rushing to complete. Perhaps use a stopwatch while you work, how long do you work before you get bored enough to go on YouTube and watch funny cat videos, or check your social media feed? Knowing how exactly you work will reveal a lot about the designer you are, and that is a good thing, you can identify your strengths and focus on fixing your weaknesses.
Draw a map of your process
Next step, draw a logical map of how you think your work should be, from start to finish. From meeting the client to delivering your final result. Itemize every possible discreet aspect of the development process, and then arrange them in the order that best works for you. It helps often times, to start with the hardest tasks first where possible, and then the relatively easier ones later. Now, try and put a reasonable time frame on each item. The key word here being reasonable, that is, don’t make it too small or too large. Too small and you’ll get easily discouraged, too large and you’ll never be disciplined to finish it. As an example, you may realize that when working on the UI/UX, you tend to spend an inordinate amount of time looking through templates before making a choice, place a time limit on it. You can always change or increase it if you feel it’s not enough.
Refine your system
No plan, they say, survives first contact with the enemy, and so when you have a system down, you would need to continue to look to refine it until you get it down to an art form. The goal is to have that system become a habitual way of working. You will inevitably have to make adjustments as you go on, so be ready to make them. Be flexible
Some of the ways that you may make adjustments to remain productive are:
1. Stick with particular software
For any aspect of web design or development, there undoubtedly exists alternative software to do the job. While there’s no harm in trying out new software, for every one you try out, you have to spend extra time figuring out how to use that particular software. Once you find an application that suits you the best, and makes you more productive, stick with it. Take advantage of the free trials available on most software, and when you find one that works for you, try to stick with it. Of course, you should always try to expand and broaden your knowledge as new improvements and updates are released, using a new software when you have a deadline is probably not the best idea.
2. Use shortcuts where possible
You’ll be surprised how much time you can shave off a task when you use shortcuts, especially on repetitive tasks. Imagine having to highlight with your mouse, then right-click and copy, then right-click again and paste. When Shift & Arrow keys with Ctrl C/V would get the job done the fastest. Spend a few minutes finding what the best shortcuts for whatever application you are using, and where possible create your own. Personalizing your workspace makes you a better designer.
3. Avoid Distractions
As cliché as this advice may seem, you’ll be surprised at how much time you may be wasting unknowingly. Checking your mail, twitter or IM app can take up to 20% of your design time if you aren’t conscious of it. So, if it requires you to switch off some applications or devices as you work, then do it.
These are some tips that you can employ to improve productivity as a web designer/developer. Of course, this is by no means exhaustive, but the point is quite clear, create a system uniquely suited to you, and stick with it till it becomes a habit. The goal is to become so productive that it becomes habitual.