7 Key Tips for Speeding up Your Design Process

by Alabaweh Baweh -
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As a designer, you may constantly feel pressured to work faster. You need to produce high-quality images at a stunning speed, developing exactly what your clients want without allowing time to drag. Creativity, however, often comes at a price: you may feel unable to meet those demands or keep up with the speeds you need in order to maintain an effective workflow. With these strategies, however, you can streamline the design process and make it easier to accomplish your design goals. 

1. Focus That Creative Energy

It's time to work on a client design--or, in general, just time to sit down to work. Unfortunately, there are distractions calling your name. A coworker comes by to ask "a few questions," which turns into a twenty-minute discussion about your weekend plans. Your email chimes, letting you know that your spam filter needs your attention. What started as a quick look at your social media--after all, you had a notification!--sends you down a rabbit hole. Before you know it, the work day is over, and you've accomplished little to nothing on your To Do list. 

Here's the good news: you can learn to focus that creative energy and work on the project at hand.

Start by turning off the distractions. Put your phone in a desk drawer where you can't see it. Set aside a specific time to check your email (and turn off any annoying apps that will send notifications your way). Close your office door to help shut out distractions, if possible. Then, focus on the task at hand. Give yourself a set break at a particular time, and set a reminder that will tell you when to return to your work. While it may feel odd, at first, to keep your attention on a single task at a time, you'll quickly find that it enables you to be far more productive. 

2. Narrow Down Your Choices

It's easy to get lost in the flow of fonts, images, and color options. You have a dozen different ideas, and you find yourself constantly playing with more of them. 

Limit the choices ahead of time. 

When you start, pick a color palette. Select four to six of your favorite fonts and decide that you're going to stick with them. Limit your image searches and select an image from those early choices--don't let yourself get bogged down for hours looking for the so-called "perfect" image. By limiting those choices, you'll find that you're better positioned to move smoothly through the process. 

3. Avoid the Quest for Perfection

You want every piece you design to be an example of your best work, but that doesn't mean that every design must be a creative masterpiece. Remember, if you're designing a simple flyer or brochure, it can be just that: simple. 

One of the biggest time-wasters in graphic design is the need to perfect everything before you hand it over to the client. Keep in mind, however, that all too often, as soon as you hand it over to the client, they're going to want something done differently--often something that you thought was the best part of the piece in the first place. Even with your final draft, you don't necessarily need perfect. Minor flaws will escape the notice of most of your clients--and more than likely, you won't notice them in the finished product, either. 

4. Use Templates When You Can

You want your designs to be as unique as possible--but that doesn't mean that you have to produce something new and fascinating for every piece, for every client. Instead, take advantage of past templates. Consider using work from other designers or turning to a font package instead of feeling as though you have to design your own for each new addition to your portfolio. When you leverage templates or select a bundle that will help direct your work, you aren't "cheating." Instead, you're streamlining the process and providing higher-quality products for your clients on a shorter timeline. 

5. Learn Keyboard Shortcuts

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The importance of keyboard shortcuts is impossible to deny. You'll spend a lot of time pointlessly clicking and searching for menus without them--but when you learn those important shortcuts, suddenly, repetitive tasks become much simpler. Set yourself to learning 1-2 new keyboard shortcuts for every new design project. Before you know it, you'll be zooming through those familiar tasks, accomplishing them faster than ever before. 

6. Customize Your Workspace

Often, design workspaces are set up the way that makes the most sense to the program's designer, but that doesn't mean it's the method that makes the most sense to you. Take some time when you start working on a new project to customize your workspace. Organize your tabs in a way that makes sense to you. Customize your preferences in your programs. Over time, you'll learn what simple methods can help streamline your workflow and make it easier for you to handle all of the tasks on your projects. 

7. Set a Schedule

Before you jump into a new project, take the time to create a schedule--and then make sure that you stick to it! Know exactly when you need to hit specific deadlines and stick to them, even if it means that you have to accept that less-than-perfect solution to move forward with the project. Remember, these elements aren't set in stone; you can go back and make alterations later if you have additional time or if the client doesn't like your selection. Your schedule can help keep you on track even when you feel like you're in over your head. Make sure, however, that your schedule reflects your real speed, not the one you'd like to be able to keep: forcing yourself to adhere to an arbitrary deadline that you know you can't meet will only make you more likely to fail. 

Do you need to speed up your design work? We can help! By leveraging the high-quality work in our bundles, you can create your own unique spin on common designs and continue to produce exceptional work that will thrill your clients or your friends. Whether you're a hobby designer or a committed professional with a string of clients, we can make your job easier than ever.