Design projects are rarely cut and dry. Unless you’re using a template or making changes to an existing design, it can be challenging to anticipate the amount of time you’ll need to complete a project.
Depending on how long you’ve been working as a graphic designer, it may be easier to estimate the amount of time you need based on previous work and experience. Regardless of that, any designer knows that sometimes you just hit a roadblock. Because of this, it’s really important to figure out a system that will ensure you get projects done on time.
The first two things I would recommend doing are to set clear deadlines and to make sure you have everything you need from the client. Get a deadline from your client, then give yourself a deadline that’s a few days prior (more or less depending on your available time). This way, if you encounter a creative block or some other problem, you have a little wiggle room to get things done on time. Once your deadline is clear, make sure you have everything you need from your client – fonts, photos, content, etc. You don’t want to get halfway through your work then realize you’re missing something you need to move forward.
Always brainstorm and sketch out what you want the final product to look like. Having a roadmap will make it much easier to plan your project and decide how much time you need. Brainstorming can also help you work through some ideas before getting started. Your design may change once you start working on it, but it will still be helpful to have your ideas to come back to.
Time management is crucial to stay on schedule. I highly suggest using a planner. Break down your project into smaller pieces and block out a specific time to finish each section. I personally use a Passion Planner and love how easy it makes it to stay organized and on schedule. If you need help sticking to your schedule, try using a timer to stay within the time blocks you set for yourself.
Do your best to limit distractions while working. Stay off social media, keep the TV off, and find a suitable workspace. If you’re not working in an office, go somewhere you can focus- whether that’s a coffee shop or a quiet room in your home, find what works for you. Put your phone on silent and set it somewhere you can’t see it, if it’s not in your direct line of vision you won’t check is as often.
Are you collaborating with a partner or co-worker? If you are, make sure to stay in touch throughout the entire project. Keep them updated on your progress and check in to see where they’re at. Keeping each other accountable will help you both stay on track and on schedule.
As you work, keep track of your progress. Are you sticking to your schedule? Are you as far along as you should be? If not, re-evaluate your process and figure out where you’re going wrong. Correct the problem and get back on track before it’s too late, adjust your schedule if needed to make sure you still finish on time.
If you follow all of these tips you should have no problem completing your work on time (or even early!) What are some steps you take to stick to your deadlines? Let me know in the comments
Amy Ross is the Lead Graphic Designer for SCP Agency.
She specializes in designing for social media and marketing. She loves working with clients to help them visually communicate with their customers.