Have you ever started designing a flyer or a social media post then forty-five minutes later decide that you don’t like it and end up deleting it?

Do you ever say to yourself, ‘’This project will take me fifteen minutes to complete and instead end up spending two hours on it? Some may say that it’s part and parcel of the creative process and that they have binned many projects.

Are you one of those designers who find themselves in a time-wasting trap leaving you feeling annoyed and overwhelmed especially when you have a list of other tasks that still need to be completed?

It is important to learn how to manage your time, so here are a few techniques that may help you:


Always keep a lookout for inspiration and new ideas

Your best source of inspiration may come from looking at similar or competing designs of others. Ask yourself what inspires you about their work? What do you like or dislike? Is it the colours, the idea or style? How can you change and re-invent the design by bringing in your own fresh ideas? Save your new ideas in folders. The next time you have a project; you can quickly go to your folder and put a creative design together.


Ensure you have a good pc and even better internet

If the tools you use are inefficient, you will be as well. You will need a computer that can handle heavy graphics and large files without crawling, losing information or crashing. You cannot wait for two or more minutes each time you need to upload images from the internet or download your project. You will eventually become de-motivated to do graphic design work.


Organise your files and folders as early as possible

Think of a way that you can consistently save repetitive client projects into one folder which will include their branding guidelines, logo, colour scheme, design style and projects. Give the folder an appropriate name that can be easily found. It is quite difficult to locate a file name called IMG0213397 especially as your portfolio grows rapidly. Well organised folders will save you heaps of time and hassle in the future from having to locate a folder.


Find out what your client needs

How many times have you found yourself working to what you believed to be your client’s objective, only to find way later that you have missed the mark? If you want to get things done and done correctly, you need to communicate with your client. Here are a few questions to ask. Why are you creating what you are creating? Who is their target audience, what are the goals they wish to accomplish with the project? What is their budget for the project? What are the must have elements in their design. Ensure that you ask questions before you begin and don’t spend two weeks trying to acquire information you need to complete work that only lasts two hours.


Plan your project in detail before you create it

Have a clear vision in your mind before you start with your creation. Sketch and draft designs for about 5-10 minutes as you may need to test layouts, colour schemes and experiment with the different graphics. Ensure that you know exactly what you want to do before you start.


Use Templates

You name it, they’ve got it!   Canva has so many templates for flyers, resumes, brochures, business cards and social media banners that you can choose from. You will save great amounts of time if the outline of the project is already there. Design should never repeat itself, however you don’t need to re-create the wheel with every project. Only use the elements, images or fonts which could help you put together your own project.  Jump starting workflows by reusing and recycling parts of a wasted project that didn’t look so great can save you time.


Get rid of the distractions

Forget about multi-tasking. Turn off your notifications, put your computer on airplane mode, and don’t feel like you need to respond to every email that pops into your inbox straight away. According to Gloria Mark a Professor in the Department of Informatics at the University of California, it takes roughly 23 minutes to get back on track again once you have been disrupted. Ignore all interrupters such as Facebook and WhatsApp for as long as you can.


Keep track of your time

When you first offer Graphic Design as a service, your time estimates will probably be inaccurate because you won’t have the experience or measurable data to see how long you worked on a specific task. Use time tracking software such as Toggl to make you more aware of the time you need to set aside to complete each project which is the key to get better at managing your time. Challenge yourself by allotting a time less time than it would usually take and always try to deliver your project a day or two before the deadline.


Stop before you think you are done

The perfectionists may not agree! Noodling over every last detail will rob you of most of your time. That one little tiny fragment that keeps annoying you because it wouldn’t move into place will probably go unnoticed. Show someone your design and ask them to give you feedback. They may think that it’s absolutely perfect and you may not have to do anything more. Remember that you are not your client so you shouldn’t judge the brochure or flyer that you are designing only according to your own standard and opinion-your client may love your design.


Any one of these time management techniques can easily save you time and boost your productivity. And finally, always give yourself a reward for completing a complicated design or project before the deadline-whether it be a café latte or a treat to the mall for a new item of clothing. Remember that enjoying what you do increases your productivity and brings out the best in you.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels