Shifting Gears: Time Management Tips

Time management is often one of the trickiest balls to juggle as a graphic designer. Most days, you find yourself with multiple projects that need to be brought to completion, often at the same time. That’s where it becomes beneficial to work on your own time management skills.

Creatively, shifting gears from one project to another and back again to satisfy the needs of multiple clients can often feel like putting your car in reverse on a highway without stopping first. It’s extremely jarring and makes focusing difficult, but it’s all part of the job. Learning to manage your time is one way to lessen this particular stress, and there are a few ways I’ve found that have helped me better deal with this over the years.

• Perhaps the hardest to justify professionally is stepping away for a moment. As humans, our brains tend to compartmentalize our thoughts and experiences. We put like things in mental “boxes” and trying to process what’s in one box while you’re knee deep in another one isn’t easy. So, step out of that proverbial box. I’ve mentioned in past blogs the value of going for a brief walk, but it’s good advice for several reasons. Step away from the desk, if only for a minute or two. Go outside, if you can, and give your brain a moment to slow down before you shift gears and change course. If you schedule your day well, this can be a big help.

• Try to stay on one task or project at a time, if you can. Don’t be afraid to ask what project has the highest priority. This will allow you to determine if you actually NEED to switch tracks and move on to a different project. The moment you take to ask this question serves a very similar purpose to the tip above by forcing a minute or two between projects.

• Keep a calendar. Whether on your desk, computer or phone doesn't matter. What matters is that you’re writing down your goals and objectives for the day and putting them in order of importance. Then, as you progress, remove the completed items and suddenly what seemed like an insurmountable number of deliverables looks far more realistic.

Time is among the most important resources we have and there never seems to be enough of it. And for the creative person, it can often feel like a monster needing to be constantly fed. But there are ways to help you deal with managing your time that takes some of the teeth out of the monster.

Written by Blog Contributor: Dee Fish