1/ Shortcut it
Speed up your whole working process by knowing all or as many shortcuts as possible off by heart. Keep the toolbars or features that you use the most often in easy reach and sight on your screen. It might not seem like much, but you’ll be surprised by how much every little bit does help!
Also, keep up to date with the latest software changes. It’ll save you the trouble of having to speed-learn them later!
2/ Cut off distractions
A solution to distraction comes in two parts. First, create a work-only area that provides a serious, focused atmosphere. That way you’ll get in ‘the zone’ quicker and stay there longer too. Second, time yourself. When you’re working against the clock, you’ll be much more aware of how much time you spend procrastinating versus being productive.
3/ Mock it up
Who ever said working from previous designs was a sin? You don’t always have to build from scratch to get a fantastic design. There are plenty of mockups and kits available online that can help you along – from icons to laptops to business cards.
Always go for high quality mockups – anything less will be obvious not only to you, but to your client.
4/ Let it brew
We get it. It takes time to get inspired and it takes time to get started. We’re not 24/7 idea machines, so don’t beat yourself up if you need some time to digest a new pitch. Admire other designers’ work, go for exhibitions, read poetry – whatever works for you. Get those creative juices flowing!
But beware the fine line between idea development and procrastination! Keep your client in the loop even as your brainstorming ideas so that you are kept accountable for the time you take.
5/ Organisation is key
One of the oldest tricks in the book. The more organised you are, the faster you’ll find what you need and that means more time to design (as opposed to spending twenty minutes looking for that darned file).
Develop a system for saving and categorising your files and projects – and then stick to it. Make it a habit and before you know it, the whole process will be effortless.
6/ What’s your style?
Are you partial to certain types of projects or visual styles? Identify what you like and what you’re good at, and aim for projects that match up with these. If your style is already similar to your clients’ from the get-go, you’ll save the stress of having to figure them out. Getting through these projects will be easier as well, which translates to more time, confidence and patience for the more challenging ones.
7/ Don’t play around
If you find yourself messing around with different effects or trying out new techniques for the sake of it, it’s time to put your pen down. Even if you aren’t finished, there’s no point just sitting around playing with the design. Time is precious: if you’re not being productive, take a break and get some more inspiration. You’ll return refreshed and ready to continue.
Adapted from this article in Design Shack.