25 Ways to be More Productive as a Designer

by . October 1st, 2008


The truth is no one is perfect and no one will ever be perfect, but life is all about improving yourself and being as productive as possible with the precious time you are given. Work often consume our lives, but if we can become more productive at work and adopt good habits, our personal lives, in theory should improve as well.

This list was created to help inspire you to make the most of your work days, become more involved in your career and be a healthier and more productive designer and person. Feel free to add your own suggestions for being a more productive designer to the list below.

25 Ways to be More Productive as a Designer

1. Make the most of your commute

If you have a long commute try making the most of your time. Read a book, get a laptop to start work ahead of time or plan out your day.

2. Keep a task list

Keeping a task list will ensure you remember everything you need to do. Organize your task list by importance and cross things out as you accomplish them, but accept the fact your task list will probably never end.

3. Become familiar with Adobe suite keyboard shortcuts

Learning essential keyboards shortcuts for programs such as Photoshop and Illustrator can actually end up saving you many hours in the long run.

4. Keep your computer software up to date, virus and spyware free

Since designers use computers on a daily basis, it is important to make sure they are running at their peak performance, so be sure to patch up your computer at least once a week.

5. Seek out sources of design inspiration

Inspiration is a huge part of any artistic career and there are plenty of places to find inspiration such as design shows, museums, online portfolios and graphic design galleries.

6. Become more involved in the design community

Joining design forums, commenting on blogs, writing articles and speaking at seminars are just a few of the ways to become more involved in the design community.

7. Go to design events, shows and learning seminars

Each year there are many design conferences, events and training seminars. If you work for a company they may even pay for you to go, so you can keep your skills sharp and network!

8. Read books on design history and theory

The number of books out on design are astonishing, so pick a topic that interests you such as design theory and get a few books to read in your spare time. One great book is “How to be a graphic designer without losing your soul”.

9. Read interviews on other graphic designers

Interviews are often extremely insightful and reveal many secrets and great tips about other successful designers. Its amazing how much you can learn from even the shortest of interviews.

10. Join graphic design organizations

Joining graphic design organizations can have many benefits and is a great way to get access to resources and network. The Graphic Artists Guild and AIGA are just a few of the organizations you should consider joining.

11. Learn to accept constructive criticism

This is a common issue with many design students and even professionals. The sooner you stop taking constructive criticism personally the sooner you will be able to improve as a designer.

12. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

If you don’t know how to do something, don’t waste time pretending you do. Kindly ask some one for help so you can get on the right track sooner.

13. Learn to outsource work and tasks to others

If you bit off more than you chew its often a better idea to outsource work to some one you trust then to stress yourself to death. The final project will often turn out better if you work as a team and delegate tasks to others.

14. Use Google Reader and follow design blogs

Google Reader is a great online RSS reader that will allow you to easily follow all your favorite design blogs.

15. Use Google Calendar to keep track of important events

Google Calendar is an awesome free piec eof calendar software to help your organize all your important events.

16. Set your email client to check for new emails less often

Checking emails every 5 minutes can be very distracting. If you check at set times you will get a lot more work done each day.

17. Create standard contracts ahead of time for clients

Its a good idea to have a lawyer help you create a set of standard contracts ahead of time so you are prepared ahead of time and don’t have to worry or waste time having contracts created later.

18. Create a standard invoice and estimate template

Having a nicely designed invoice and estimate template is professional and can be customized easily for any new client. be sure to print copies for yourself for filing purposes so you can refer back if needed.

19. Create mailing labels

Typing for so many years has really degraded my hand writing and having pre-made mailing labels not only takes care of my ugly handwriting, but it also saves time.

20. Organize all your paperwork once a week

Nowadays the paperwork can pile up fast and if you let it go, getting it back under control can be a nightmare. use folders in a file cabinet that are labeled to organize all your important papers.

21. Organize your computer files once a week

Organizing your computer files i arguably even more important then organizing your paperwork. You should have a folder and sub folders for each client and create backups of your files every day on multiple external devices.

22. Develop a standard computer file labeling system

Labeling your files in a specific way will make it much easier for you to navigate and search for files when you need them quickly.

23. Try to keep your weekends work free and relax

its easy to get consumed with work and keeping your weekends work-free is a good way to ensure you won’t burn out or have a meltdown. So don’t forget to enjoy life on the weekends!

24. Exercise on a regular basis and go out for fresh air at lunch

This one always makes it into the productivity lists, yet many people still don’t do it. It can be difficult to fit in, but even 20 minutes of exercise 3 times a week can make a large impact in your overall health.

25. Do hand exercise every few hours to help combat carpal tunnel syndrome

Using the keyboard 8 hours a day for years on end is an easy way to mess up your hands, so doing hand exercises a few times a day can go a long way in preventing potential long-term damage.


YouTheDesigner is a graphic design blog under the UCreative Network. We do features; give away brushes, icons, wallpapers, and other freebies; and bring you the latest news in the world of graphic design.