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.
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
The Unstoppable Force of a Motivated Women
Overall, becoming an entrepreneur is a very daunting task for most individuals, and rightly so. While the individual’s success might be seen so easily, what doesn’t get seen is the sacrifice, long hours, the having to make tough choices, the commitment to learning new skills, the self – doubt, the failures nor the amount of coffee it takes to get to that point of success.
Women in business very often have the added pressure to find the balance between perusing their passion with their role of being a wife, mom, friend, daughter, etc. This daily struggle to be the best version of themselves is, however, what makes a woman in business so unstoppable.
Paving the way
Growing up I was always fascinated with powerful, successful women and many hours where spent reading bibliographies and news articles on women such as Margaret Thatcher, Oprah Winfrey, and Esteé Lauder while daydreaming of how I wanted to have my version of their success one day. For years women have been showing the world how resilient and powerful they can really be, paving the way for us to be able to freely and confidently step out of our comfort zones and conquer any sector or industry we choose to enter. Aside from these powerful women, I have mentioned, my biggest inspiration and example was my mom. A woman who left her birth country behind to support her husband in trying to build a better life for themselves and their children, she used to work 12 -14 hour days in the business with my dad and would get home and be a full hands-on wife and mom. Today more than ever, I am convinced she is secretly superhuman because I don’t know how she did it all on her own but aside from that I realised it was an ‘ordinary’ woman who paved the way to my entrepreneurial journey.
Ordinary, the new Extraordinary
This past women’s day, I was fortunate enough to spend the morning with a diverse group of female entrepreneurs. We started the morning with as ordinary women with general chatter and introductions, we left as powerful, motivated and united women in business. After listening to each women’s story, learning about their challenges, their different skills, their motivations, their failures, the heartaches they have had to endure, their successes, I have never been prouder to be a woman! FH Sin put it beautifully saying “her soul is fierce, her heart is brave, her mind is strong”. These women, like various other I have the privilege to work with daily all seem to have the following seemingly ordinary characteristics that make them extraordinary:
- They are deeply passionate
- They do not expect perfection, they assess, learn, do their best and adjust the plan if needed
- They are not afraid to take risks
- They believe they are a success
- They practice gratitude
If it was easy, everyone would do it
Some people define an Entrepreneur as a crazy person who risks their own money for freedom, rather than exchanging their freedom for money – and I have to agree that takes a special individual to take the risk to go out and build their own legacy and their own version of success. To all my fellow women in business I would like to say thank you for being such an inspiration to those around you, keep showing up when most people would quit, believe you can – because you will and no matter how you feel, get up, dress up, show and never give up!
How Women in Power are Changing the World
Public holiday, who cares? We can rest….. But every single woman in South Africa needs to care. We need to understand why this is such an important month in the history of our country. Women’s Month in August is a tribute to the more than 20 000 women who marched to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956 in protest against the extension of Pass Laws to women. The Government of South Africa declared August as women’s month and 9 August is celebrated annually as Women’s Day. Women were somewhat regarded as inferior to their male counterparts then. Fast forward 63 years, and women are seen as equal and paid and treated as such.
Women in power in South Africa making a change
Growing up I always imagined being someone that can make a real change, not only to my immediate family but also to people around me. Especially during August I have seen articles about women doing just that. It all started with a heart, to be understanding and empathetic towards others. And let`s face it, women are good at seeing the need of others. Salute ladies, and let us go on this journey of getting to know my top four inspirational women:
Saray is an award-winning mountaineer, a Mandela libraries ambassador, a social entrepreneur, a mother of two boys and also an executive for one of the distinguished financial institutions in South Africa. Over time she has demonstrated her commitment to making a difference in her environment through mountaineering. Through her climbing with a purpose initiative, Saray has organized and been part of the following initiatives:
- Climbing Kilimanjaro with a purpose (self-funded climb) which built an outdoor gym for Kids Havenworth R200,000 and also converted a room into a library.
- Climbing Everest in 2014 raised funds forThe Lunch Box Fund to feed over 60,000 children.
- Climbing Everst in 2015 raised funds for The Mandela Library Projects and built a library for Isiziba Primary School in Thembisa, Johannesburg.
- Climbing Everest in 2018 raised funds of over R800,000for The Mandela Library Projects and built four libraries across South Africa. She continues to campaign for more libraries as she takes steps towards the seven highest peaks on the seven continents around the world.
# Caster Semenya, standing up for human rights.
Wikipedia describes Mokgadi Caster Semenya as follow: “OIB (born 7 January 1991) is a South African middle-distance runner and 2016 Olympic gold medalist. She won gold in the women’s 800 meters at the 2009 World Championships with a time of 1:55.45 and at the 2017 World Championships in her new personal best, 1:55.16. She also won the silver medal at the 2011 World Championships in the 800 meters. She was the winner of the gold medal in the 800 meter events at the 2012 Summer Olympics and 2016 Summer Olympics.
Following her victory at the 2009 World Championships, it was announced that she had been subjected to sex testing. She was withdrawn from international competition until 6 July 2010 when the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) cleared her to return to competition. In 2010, the British magazine New Statesman included her in a list of “50 People That Matter 2010”.”
Semenya is not allowed to participate in this year’s World Championships in Doha, as her testosterone levels need to be reduced as ruled by the IAAF. Luckily the South African Cabinet fully supports Semenya as she appeals and fights for her fundamental human rights. Like all other athletes, she is entitled to compete without being obliged to alter her body by any medical means. And following Semenya`s very public career over the last nine years, I am sure she will still be fighting for many years to come.
# Tracey Chambers and Tracey Gillmore, educating and clothing the underprivileged
These two women realized they can make a difference in the lives of women, and people in general, by letting their empathy grow into a business. They started the ClothingBank of South Africa, by clothing and educating people. In their own words: “We believe that becoming a self-employed business owner is something everyone can do, irrespective of their education levels and resources, as long as they are self-motivated and well supported (mentally and emotionally). We have developed a holistic eco-system, which successfully engages families living in poverty to chart a path out of poverty. Our projects have been changing lives for the last eight years.” Visit their website for more information: https://theclothingbank.org.za/
How can I make a difference
Following these wonderful women did make me feel unmotivated for a second, before I was left amazed. I wanted to be them, and here I am 37 years old, not summiting mountains, un-athletic and unentrepreneurial. I voiced this to my friend and very small business partner (who is really unprivileged, sleeping on someone’s kitchen floor, cleaning houses for a living). She said that you should never think something is unimportant to the person next to you. We can always, as women, have an empathetic heart and ear to our sisters. Sometimes, without even realizing it, by listening you can show love and affection. For too many years, sisters in South Africa were not heard, until they gathered, mobilized and moved. And because they did, my heroes are out in the open, voicing their concerns and making changes without needing to stand back.
Secondly, we should remember to never quite. Even if we feel we do not have the capacity or mental ability to do something, just keep going. All of the women mentioned above must have felt deflated and wanting to quite somewhere down the line, but they pushed through and always educated and kept training in their areas of specialities.
In bringing it together I thought it would be best to share this poem by Maya Angelou:
’You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.’
Celebrating women’s month like the BO$$ you are
A life coach commented something that was really interesting to me the other day. It was about living your dream life. You know, the one where you drive the Porché, have the 8 bedroom house and earn 6 figures. Somehow this month’s topic reminded me of that. Celebrating women’s month by being the BOSS you are meant to be.
We often get side-tracked by our work. As women, we are working bees and always make sure everything runs smoothly be it at work or at home we never just step back and make it about us for a change. If you’re like me you don’t invest in yourself too often, well lady it’s time to step up.
Now look, I’m not saying go crazy and spend your savings on a new car but there are loads of things you can do to spoil yourself into the life that you dream for yourself. How? Well…
First step is to plan it out. Write down everything in detail. How do you look, what do you wear, how do you walk, what do you drive, where do you live, how is your relationships, how does your day go. The more detail the better. This is your ideal life, the best you that you can possibly be.
Once you have that down, start by taking each thing and thinking about what you can do today to get a little bit closer to that? This is where the fun comes in! A couple of ideas could be, get your nails done or a facial, take that car you have in mind for a test drive, put your yellow high heels on and go have lunch at that spiffy restaurant you’ve been pining for. The list is endless and dependent on what you’ve got on your list. Some things take a bit more effort, like improving on your relationships but if you take it step by step you’ll see an improvement in no time.
This list isn’t just something to aspire to but it becomes goals that you can live towards each day. Make a point of it to do at least one thing each month that draws you closer. This keeps you in the game.
So even though this is women’s month, see it as a chance to become the warrior you are inside and start living like the CEO or President of your life. Women are a force to be reckoned with but we are too busy backstage making sure everyone else is on their game and are living their best lives that we seldom have time or energy to work on our own.
This month I challenge you to make your list and start a bit of self-care in the right direction. Working on your goals a little bit every day gets you much closer than writing them down in January and never looking at them again.
Take yourself out for a change and celebrate the awesomeness that is you, I dare you!
How to have a good working relationship with your Virtual Assistant
Start out with an open mind
If you have never worked with a Virtual Assistant before, first think of how it can benefit you and your business working this way. Understand that the transition from having an assistant in your office to working remotely is going to be an adjustment and allow for that.
Garbled communication produces garbled results and is a huge time waster. Decide exactly what it is that you want your Virtual Assistant to do and how you will communicate it to him or her in a way that is clearly and easily understood. Schedule a way of communication that is done daily or weekly as standard and should anything else come up that needs to be dealt with, let your Virtual Assistant know through what means you would prefer communication, be it via phone, WhatsApp, email etc and inform him or her beforehand when you know that you are not going to be available for a period of time.
Learn to be a good delegator. This is sometimes a problem for a start up business that started out with one person making all the decision and doing everything themselves. Understand that you are working with another individual that possibly doesn’t see everything as you do, so may produce results in a slightly different way than you did. Take a step back and look at the result from a different perspective and you might be pleasantly surprised to see that the result is better than what you produced originally.
Goals and time management
Let you Virtual Assistant know what is going to be expected of them and what takes priority. Be realistic in what is expected of him or her within their specified work hours. Plan ahead of time and set goals for when certain tasks or projects need to be completed by and communicate this clearly. If something else comes up that needs to be done urgently, realise that there will be a delay in getting other tasks or projects done within the original planned timeframe.
Mutual Respect and Trust
If your Virtual Assistant feels that they are appreciated and respected, they will feel a sense of commitment to you and your business. Be open to hear other opinions, your idea might not always be the best idea. Show them that you value their positive input and even constructive criticism. as this will make them feel more part of the team and even more committed to the growth of your business.
Morals and Ethical Practice
If you’re wanting a professional Virtual Assistant to be dedicated and committed to your business, don’t expect him or her to stay if you are in the habit of unethical business practice. Being clear about what is and what is not acceptable in your business dealings, will remove any grey areas and you will gain your Virtual Assistant’s respect and trust as well as your customer’s. Be upfront and let your Virtual Assistant know exactly what you and your business stand for before you start your working relationship.
“Honesty is not the best policy, it’s the only policy.” Dr Myles Munroe