One of the hardest parts of being a graphic designer is learning how to properly distribute your time between projects. Good designs take time to create, but sometimes that time is limited and you have to be quick on your feet. I personally struggle with dispersing my time evenly between the multiple projects that I am working on at once. Here are a few tricks I use to make sure that each project gets the attention it deserves.
Before I even open an Adobe program in the morning, I pull up my calendar. Having a calendar that has all of my project deadlines on it helps me to be aware of those that are fast approaching and what projects deserve immediate attention. I typically work on projects in the order of their due dates, however on occasion I will work on something that has a later deadline simply because I expect that project to be a lengthy one.
Work with Time Blocks
Breaking up your time throughout the day between different projects can not only help you meet every deadline, but it can also help with your creativity. For me, moving from working on one project to another project that is the polar opposite really helps me keep fresh eyes when working on designs. You can only work on something for so long before you start recycling old ideas. Taking a break from one thing to work on something completely different can keep you break through creative blocks that you may not even realize you are facing.
Break Large Projects into Smaller Ones
Sometimes a large project can become overwhelming and consume a majority of your time. This wouldn’t be a problem, except when there are three other projects with similar deadlines. When I run into this dilemma, I break the large project into multiple smaller ones. By doing this, I am able to accomplish this project while also meeting the deadlines for the other projects that I have on my plate.
I utilized all of these suggestions when designing the program for PRSA’s PR Day. In order to distribute my time among various projects, I broke the program up into three parts; the schedule and index pages, the speaker biography pages and the introduction and ad layouts. I worked on each part in their own time block, while also working on other project in between blocks.
Stop Wasting Time
I am a firm believer in taking a step back from a project to take a breather. It is perfectly acceptable to walk away from the computer for 5 minutes to give your brain a rest. Don’t waste time just staring at your screen. Get up, move around, grab a snack, whatever you need to do to clear your mind. You will waste more time just contemplating your design than taking a five minute break. By cutting back on the amount of time you are wasting just staring at your screen, you can make more time for projects with impending deadlines.
Even though I still struggle with managing my time between projects, these simple tricks have helped me to meet deadlines while producing some pretty great work. Every designer is different, but knowing how to manage your time a key part of getting your job done.
Written by Caitlyn Kaczmarek