How to Streamline Your Design Process: 10+ Expert Productivity Hacks for Designers

Learn how to boost both your productivity and your design career with these top productivity tips from designers.

How to Streamline Your Design Process: 10+ Expert Productivity Hacks for Designers
Portrait for Kelsie RimmerBy Kelsie Rimmer  |  Updated June 2, 2023

Productivity is an essential skill for any creative professional, but for designers in particular. 

Whether you’re working as a freelance designer or part of a design team, the nature of your work means you’ll need to balance multiple tasks at once – from brainstorming, creative ideation, and design, to organization, deadlines, and portfolio management.

With so many balls in the air, it’s vital for designers to be as organized, efficient, and productive as possible. However, in the age of social media and endless digital distractions, procrastination seems to lurk around every corner. And with clients, customers and other stakeholders constantly relying on you to produce more and more high-quality work that’s on-point, on-brand and on-time, productivity is key for anyone wanting to build a successful design career

To help make 2022 your most productive year yet, we’ve collected some top creative experts and designers to share their top productivity hacks which help them deliver stellar work every time. So, if you’re looking to boost both your productivity and your career as a designer, read on for 10+ expert productivity tips to improve your creative process and produce better designs

Irene K

Graphic designer at FlippingBook

Irene K Graphic designer at FlippingBook

1. Just Get Started

Procrastination is the enemy of productivity. The most important thing is to sit down and actually start working, and little by little, your creative juices will start flowing. It’s also important for designers to work with their hands – drawing a sketch on paper first, and then bringing your design to life on the screen with your digital tools can be a wonderful productivity boost. The main tools I use include Adobe suite, Sketch, and Figma, as well as digital content marketplaces such as Envato for finding music, video templates and cool vector patterns. Behance is also a great platform for references and inspiration.

Kate Yatsenko

Designer at Chanty

Kate Yatsenko, Designer at Chanty

2. Create Healthy Habits

Getting up early is great for increasing productivity. Make a cup of coffee or tea, eat a healthy breakfast, go for a morning walk and then get to work. Waking up early gives you time to complete personal tasks before you sit down to work, allowing you to start the day with a fresh mind. It’s also important to take breaks. Take a 20 minute break every two hours to allow your mind to process, and you’ll boost the quality of your work a hundredfold.

3. Make a To-Do List

Making a to-do list will help you set clear goals and objectives for the day. Planning your daily tasks ahead of time helps to eliminate disorganization and hold yourself accountable. Making your to-do list the day before is a great way to get your morning off to a productive start.

4. Minimize Digital Distractions

Falling into the rabbit hole of using social media at work can be extremely tempting and distracting – a single glance at an Instagram post can see you squandering hours scrolling. Minimize these digital temptations by muting your social media alerts so you can focus on work and stay productive.

Ivan Stajic

UI/UX Designer at PopArt Studio

Ivan Stajic UI/UX Designer at PopArt Studio

5. Break Projects into Manageable Tasks 

When working on a new website design project, it can be easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer scope of tasks to be done and deadlines to be met. Aside from external pressure from project managers or clients, frequent task switching can really affect my creativity and productivity. 

My ultimate productivity hack is dissecting your projects into smaller, less time-consuming tasks. Designing a website is a comprehensive task, and it’s counterproductive to be thinking about the perfect color scheme, footer layout, or CTA button when you’re in the early stages of a design. Focusing on a single thing at a time will keep your creativity focused, and teach you to prioritize tasks and celebrate each small victory.

6. Challenge Your Designs from Various POVs

Objectively scrutinizing your work from different points of view – such as designer, client, and user – will help your productivity in the long run. While it might be difficult to break away from your design experience and knowledge at first, over time you’ll develop a sense of user intuition which will lower the number of iterations clients ask for.

Throughout the design process, ask yourself why – why would I use this color? Why should this element go in this specific section? Putting yourself in the user’s shoes will help you avert all potential misinterpretations of the design. I always do brief A/B testing of my designs before presenting the concept to the client, which really helps me to predict client needs and user feedback.

Harsh Vijay

Designer and co-founder of Ruttl

Harsh Vijay Designer and co-founder of Ruttl

7. Move Your Body

If you’re working in a creative career like design, it’s important to declutter your mind by staying active. The longer you design, the more lethargic your mind and body becomes. Having a regular fitness routine has really enhanced my productivity. 

8. Stagger Creative & Non-Creative Tasks

To stay productive, I aim to finish all my non-creative tasks in one go and schedule focus hours throughout the day. The first half of the day is all about creativity and high energy – I recommend tackling all your creative and planning tasks early to best use your brain power and give yourself a head start. The lower-skill tasks can be scheduled after lunch, or during the 4-6 PM sprint when we start feeling reenergized.

Adam Wright

Graphic Designer and Content Manager at Millo

Adam Wright Graphic Designer and Content Manager at Millo

9. Stay Focused

It’s important to stay focused on your creative process. It may sound basic, but turning off all notifications (especially email and social) is crucial to staying focused and productive. If you have a Mac, turn on “Focus” mode to do this quickly and effectively. Sometimes I find that listening to music can help tune out any outside “noise” and get myself in a rhythm for designing. However, I know that some people find music a distraction. Setting personal milestones for larger projects to make steady progress is also important for avoiding procrastination. 

Mariana Gonzalez

Designer at Float

Mariana Gonzalez Designer at Float

10. Establish a Routine

I’ve been working remotely for the past four years, so being productive is essential to have the best work-life balance possible. The most important thing is to establish a routine during your work hours, and fully disconnect once that routine is over so you can continue your day without checking emails or slack. Try to take 10 minute breaks every hour to stretch a little bit, wash your face, get yourself a snack or a big glass of water and don’t forget to take enough time to have lunch.

11. Look After Your Mental Health

Mental health is so important. For me, going outside at least for one hour a day has been a major improvement in my daily life. I love going for a jog, to the gym or taking a walk before the sun goes down. And of course, being connected with your loved ones is a great way to keep you on track and motivated.

We hope these productivity hacks will help you to put off that procrastination and build some good working habits! If you still need a booster for your productivity, try using time tracking for designers. While you’re at it, check out these expert tips on Building a Strong Social Media Presence, How to Design an Eye-Catching Visual Brand, and 8 Expert Tips to Boost Your Career as a Freelance Graphic Designer

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