Being more productive and avoiding procrastination are the biggest challenges everybody wants to overcome.

The designer profession requires you to be a creative person. For someone who is always brainstorming there’s no other way to stay competitive.

All this sounds easy. Here is when frustration will come up because staying productive as a designer is super tough.

This world has been designed to distract you. You can easily put off things for later or jump from one thing to another.

Productivity can make the difference between two designers. You should be able to brainstorm and troubleshoot problems. At the same time, you will need to handle other tasks.

Here are some productivity tips for designers to stay focused, creative, and avoid procrastination.

Plan your day ahead

Planning is everything. If you don’t know where you are and where you go, anything will be the best choice.

Productivity comes from a well-organized agenda. Having clarity which is the next step and marked things done. It seems simple but most people don’t do it. There’s no point to pretend to be productive without a plan ahead.

This is not related to the field you are in, it is something that depends on you. Schedules and due dates are overwhelming.

Build a to-do List

Planning will give you the list of tasks you need to get done. Yet if you want to prioritize and organize your day a to-do list should be your weapon.

Without it is overwhelming to accomplish your daily goals. You have a lot of things on your plate but you don’t know where to start.

Once you create a to-do list and if you refer to it several times a day you have high chances to get things done easier and faster.

Build habits and stick to them

Building good habits will help you be more productive. Yet this is not as easy as it sounds; it requires commitment and patience to stick to them.

Your task is to build and stick to habits that work for you. They should make your life easier.

They will allow you to focus on creative activities having a positive impact at the end of the day.

Find peace in your environment

If you don’t feel peace and good vibes from your current environment, it could be a good idea to make a change.

Believe it or not, a few changes in your behavior are enough to recover and get inspired.

From hanging a picture of your family to a piece of art or even re-design completely your work environment are the changes you need to be more productive.

It’s not only about software high-quality tools it is also about all around you. Pens, board, notebooks, paper, or anything else that make your job easier.  This generates emotions and creativity.

Figure Out the Best Time

Your optimal time slots are different than anyone else out there. If you figure out which time fits with which tasks you will have better results at the end of the day.

You already know yourself. You probably enjoy getting up early and start the day ahead of the rest of the world. Or on the contrary, you are a night owl and you feel you get more focus and creativity at nights.

Once you find the ideal time to work and that works for you, you will see the positive effects on your productivity.

Workout to Reset Your Mind

Working out creates emotions and they are the booster to productivity.

As a designer no doubt you will spend 90% of the day in front of your computer. This means you will not have the chance to give your body the movements it needs.

Exercise will reset the state of mind. It will disconnect from any work-related thing. You don’t need to go to the gym. You only need commitment and start to exercise from 20 to 30 minutes during the day.

Choose the Right Tools

I bet to say that you have heard this popular advice. Work smart, not hard.

Choose the right tools that will increase your productivity. You will deliver more with them.

No matter if you are designing a website, a mobile app, or a logo. There is one thing you need to make sure you have in place: the right tools and also they set up to make part of the job.

You have the freedom to get a freemium or premium tool. That depends on your possibilities. Either of them should help you to be more productive.

Tracking your time

Do you know how much time a task demanded you during the day?  How do you know you are being faster than yesterday on the same task?

You will not have the answer to those questions if you aren’t tracking your tasks time.

If you follow the creation of a to-do list and if you make it achievable and realistic then it is a good opportunity to start to track each task. How can you do it?

There are plenty of tools out there that allows you to track your tasks. Basically, their usage is pretty straightforward. You decide which tasks tracking and to which project they belong to.

Tracking your tasks will give you more than productivity.  It also helps you to keep the focus on tasks and allows you to evaluate where you could be faster.

Have effective and strong communication

Having strong communication skills should be a must for everybody. It’s not only about your technical skills, but also your abilities to communicate and handle the relationship with clients.

Sometimes there’s a barrier between you and your client due the client doesn’t know the topic and jargon of your field. You can fall into the mistake of using design words like wireframes, mock-up, and the client will feel lost.

If you can have effective and clear communication you can easily and as a result fulfill what exactly clients want.

Divide and you will conquer

If you are working on a big task you should break it down into smaller chunks to make it more achievable and manageable.

When trying to complete a big task without dividing it up it is probably you will end up not finishing it on time or poor quality. You don’t need to overwhelm yourself and be snowed with the big picture instead see the small goals.

Break down the general goal into specific ones. Once you have granular tasks you can think about the priority.

Breaking down the tasks will not be worth it if you decide to assign yourself many of them at the same time. At this point, you should assign them based on the complexity, effort, and if you have worked on similar tasks before.

Use shortcuts

Sometimes we underestimate the power that keyboard shortcuts give us. No doubt once you use them you save a lot of time giving you the chance to spend that time on other tasks during the day.

You don’t need to memorize them, as soon as you start to know and use them the faster you will be. This is a simple way to gain extra time at the end of the day.

Repeated tasks like taking a screenshot are a real case scenario to leverage shortcuts.

Finally, the better thing is that you also can add your keyboard shortcuts, those you feel more comfortable with.

Breathe and take a break

No matter how busy you are or how many tasks you need to get complete. You need a way to disconnect completely from what you are working on – you need to take a break.

As a designer, you spend many hours a day sitting down in front of your computer as much time you stay there the less productive you will be.

Set aside time for a break every single day. It shouldn’t be a long time, five minutes will be enough to reset your mind and fill it out with energy to continue doing your job.

Give yourself rewards

One of the biggest mistakes everyone makes is to underestimate the act of rewarding yourself. When you get a kudos, clap, or even a material gift you feel important and rewarded.

Why not give the same to yourself when you have worked hard to get things done?

No need to buy something, it could be to stand up and go for a good coffee, see the sky for a while or prepare a great tea. Then sit down in front of your television and watch for a moment something that makes you laugh. By doing this you change your state of mind.

Avoid Distraction and finish what you start

This world is designed to distract you. Avoid falling into the distractions trap.

There are high chances that push notifications, email, or WhatsApp conversion comes up and distracts you.

If you jump to any of them you will waste your time, focus, and energy. Build the habits of sticking to what you are working on and force yourself to stay there until you finish it.

Find focus and motivation by listening to music

Music can have an incredible impact on the way you work. Find music that keeps you working at a steady pace, the genre will be different for everyone so try out different styles to see what works for you. Music relaxes your mind and soul. It gives you peace, focus, and inspiration.

Listening to music is a good decision while you are working since it keeps you motivated. No doubt, listing music will have a positive impact and effects on your productivity.

Share your Thoughts and Opinions

Sharing your doubts and thoughts early will save you a lot of time. Ask questions for clarification when you are not completely clear on your tasks.

This should be an often task during the creative process. Share your point of view based on your experience and hear other ones too.

A successful design team is the result of flexibility and an open mind. So don’t worry to try to spread your voice.

Keep Up the Momentum

Momentum makes you believe in the impossible. The battle is how you keep it up.

Every single day ask this question: what do I need to do today to get closer to my goal? This will get you quickly momentum and focus on what you are trying to achieve.

Your productivity will soar once you keep the momentum up.

About the Author

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Bogdan Sandu

Bogdan is a designer and editor at DesignYourWay. He's reading design books the same way a hamster eats carrots, and talks all the time about trends, best practices and design principles.