Why Designers Don’t Have Time To Be Creative (& What to Do About It)

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Another email notification… they want to reschedule that meeting again? OK where’s my calendar….

Ack, that’s the phone ringing — it’s probably my nitpicky client wanting to discuss yet another revision round. 

What’s that alarm? Oh right, the reminder I set to fill out yesterday’s timesheets and finish up with billing. 

OK, busywork done. I can finally start on today’s projects. Software update again?! How many times can you click “later?” 

When your career depends on your ability to produce creative work every day, staying productive is a must. Yet one of the biggest challenges facing creative professionals is simply finding the time to be creative. It’s all too easy to get bogged down by admin tasks, accounting work, and maintaining client relations. Use these tips to break through common productivity roadblocks and reclaim your creative time.

Prioritize the urgent & important

This may sound obvious, but a key step in prioritizing is evaluating what’s actually worth your time and attention. All too often we get so busy racing through our to-do lists that when a new task pops up, we simply try and get it done as quickly as possible without pausing to consider whether it’s even worth doing. Use a simple Eisenhower Matrix to clear out unnecessary admin work and quickly prioritize what’s left. By identifying tasks that are neither important nor urgent, you can cut out tasks that don’t actually contribute to the bottom line or to high-level business objectives (true busywork).

Automate routine admin tasks

Use Zapier or IFTTT to turn emails into reminders, save YouTube tutorials to Pocket, share a new Behance portfolio to Twitter, and more. Save time nurturing prospective clients via email with a CRM or marketing automation tool, and easily organize, plan, and track your work using a work management solution.

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Streamline revisions

One of the biggest time sucks for designers is endless revision rounds and jobs that start out simple, then gradually morph into complicated projects with a slew of new client requests. How do you maintain control over your work while keeping clients happy? By using a standard creative brief template with fields for file format, deadline, project objectives, etc., you’ll have all the details you need to deliver on expectations the first time around — and you’ll be able to prevent unnecessary changes based on personal opinion by keeping revision discussions centered on the brief.

Have a formal approvals process

Too much feedback from too many people is one of the biggest headaches for designers. Use a review & approval tool that lets clients provide clear, specific feedback on designs so you can deliver the changes they want the first time around, without any misunderstandings. Faster reviews and approvals means clients are happy, and you can move on to the next project (and paycheck).

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Use a work management tool that integrates with Adobe

Save time switching between your inbox, instant messages, and design software by using a tool like the Wrike Adobe Creative Cloud add-in, which allows you to quickly find to-dos, creative briefs, and client comments without leaving Adobe applications like Photoshop or Illustrator.

60% of creatives say they had “great ideas” in the past year, but didn’t have the time to actually work on them. Use these tips to quickly clear these productivity roadblocks and gain back time to devote to the creative work you love. Download these tips (and more!) as a PDF tipsheet that can easily be shared with your entire team.

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