We designers spend most of our time on the computer and have lots of distractions to keep up with. Interesting stuff is only a click away. It’s even harder for those of us who work at home. At any time, the kids come bounding in with stories to tell, things to show and sometimes when my toddler sees me holding my graphic pen instead of the mouse, she grabs the latter and clicks on whatever big X she sees on the upper right.
So how do we get things done? I’ve got a few time management tips to share that have worked for me.
Plan the day before
I believe in goal-setting, planning years in advance then moving backwards yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly then finally to daily. This exercise instantly distinguishes the important from the urgent. The important tasks are those that will lead to achieving goals. The urgent will be client work. We tend to only do the urgent ones and neglect the rest. Plan the day to include both the important and the urgent. It’s best to plan at least a day before so you can jump right into getting things done.
Break up your day into chunks of time
Schedule and put a reasonable time limit for each task. Make time for client work, personal projects, marketing, email, social networking, reading, breaks, etc. Commit to focusing on one activity within the scheduled time. You’ll actually get more things done by focusing on each than with multi-tasking.
Do the most difficult/most frustrating/most hated tasks and projects FIRST
…and do it right. Yes it isn’t as much fun as that other project but you’ll have to do it eventually anyway so best do it first and get it out of the way. You’ll be more creative and more productive without that nagging voice telling you to do that other project already. And for all your work, do it right and give it your best on the first draft. This will minimize the number of revisions later on and save up some time so you can spend them on other things.
Assess your day and plan the next
Evaluate how you did—how much you accomplished, what worked, what didn’t, which activities were a waste of time—then plan your activities for tomorrow.
What time management tips can you add?