Designers: 7 Ways To Be More Prolific

With the demand for design increasing every day, so too is the number of designers out there competing for the same jobs. It’s not enough anymore to simply be a good designer.

Clients are looking for designers who can not only exceed their expectations, but do so in record time. Here’s how to get more design done in less time, earning yourself more money and loyal clients in the process.

Write Down Your Ideas Ahead Of Time

Don’t just sit down, open up Photoshop, and start designing. Good designs come from good ideas that you’ve given plenty of thought to developing. It’s important to brainstorm your ideas on paper first, letting them stew for a few days while you draw out their full potential.

I like to keep a list of ideas that I will curate for at least a week before I actually start designing; often they sit for far longer. For around 90% of my work, this is a major key to getting the idas to flow smoothly and quickly. The bulk of the work is completed in this stage, before I ever sit down at the computer. However…

Don’t Ignore Flashes Of Inspiration

I’ll confess: I get ideas for new designs suddenly when I’m hard at work on something completely different. Instead of ignoring the idea and letting it float away, jump on it and spend 15 minutes hammering out some basic sketches before going back to what you were working on before.

If something suddenly occurs to you and you know it’s a good idea, it’s stupid to ignore that. Follow your intuition and create what you feel the strongest, not what you feel you “ought” to create.

Use A List Format, Even If You’re Not A “Left Brained” Designer

Some people don’t like planning out every detail of their work, preferring to just go with the flow. But the fact of the matter is, planning works – not just for designers, but for users and clients as well. It’s much easier to organize your thoughts into an ordered schedule, then go through and flesh things out later. You can always remove or ignore things later if you don’t want to keep them in your final desgin.

Work On Multiple Designs At Once

I never, ever work on a single design at a time. That’s the biggest waste of effort a content designer can make. You can get much more work done if you learn to multi-task and work in an assembly line style. Remember, your ideas have been stewing for days now, so you already know they’re good.

The actual designing part takes far less time. I like to take three basic ideas and work on each one for 20 minutes. That’s three designs that get worked on in the span of one hour. I use a timer so that I don’t allow myself to get fixated on one piece.

It’s very important to keep going, forcing yourself to switch to a different document, even if you’re right in the middle of a really good idea. I have a 1 or 2 minute “grace period,” where I can finish what I’m doing, then it’s on to the next one. You can adjust the interval lengths however you like to fit whatever you need to design.

Learn To Work Faster

You can follow all the design advice in the world, but if you truly want speed, you’ll need to start physically moving your hand more quickly. There are numerous resources online, both free and paid, that you can use to improve your drawing speed and whatnot, but the main goal is to learn to send ideas from your brain to your fingers without stopping to ruminate on what you’re doing.

A related suggestion is to learn to read faster as well. You need to be able to digest the essentials of your brief and your research as quickly as possible. Most English speakers and readers pronounce each word either in their heads or silently with their lips as they read them. This is the number one roadblock to improving your reading speed, as any free speed-reading video on YouTube will tell you. And of course, as I’m sure I don’t have to remind you, if you’re not reading, you have no business being a designer.

Revise Later

This is an obvious one, but you can’t create and revise at the same time. It’s very important to put your revision hat aside while you’ve got your designer hat on. It takes a lot of effort and concentration to trim a complex, confusing design into something simple and elegant, and you don’t want to be trying to do that while you’re creating it. It makes as much sense as sketching an idea for a logo with your left hand while simultaneously drawing the final vector version in Illustrator with your right.

If You Don’t Care About It, Don’t Design It

Another obvious one that so many designers still attempt. If you aren’t a fan of what you’re doing, it will definitely come out in your final product. Designing things you don’t want to design not only makes the work go by slower, it won’t benefit anyone else who sees it either.

For example, I never do the more “technical” aspects of design – coding, UI configuration, etc. If I tried to design that stuff, it would take forever. Why? Because I’d be spending more time groaning and complaining about how out of my element I was, and less time actually designing.

I know this is true because I’ve done it before. It’s always a bad idea. Clients can get a much better solution to their problem by hiring people who actually enjoy creating those types of designs. And you as a designer can draw in far more devoted clients who will love hearing what you have to say if you pick a niche subject and become an expert in it.

What Do You Think?

Now you tell us: what helpful tips and suggestions do you have for cranking out design work in record time to wow clients?