How do you manage a graphic design project? Do you just throw yourself at it and hold on long enough to reach some milestone? We hope not.
Effectively managing graphic design projects is an art in and of itself. Achieving success in it is not the same as in any other branch of project management. Graphic design projects require a continuous flow of your creative juice and a tactical approach to managing your resources.
So, while there are tens—and possibly hundreds—of opinions on how to manage graphic design projects, very few are often useful and practical. You will find that most of these articles in project management for design professionals are more suitable for teams, not lone rangers.
Thus, we have compiled a few tips that you will find helpful for effectively managing multiple graphic design projects.
1. Declutter Your Workspace
There is a popular notion that creativity walks the same lane with cluttering. Albert Einstein’s work desk, for example, was quite cluttered. However, the physicist was a genius in spite of—not because of—that level of disorganization. Since you are not Einstein, it would be better for you to play it safe and keep your workspace organized.
An organized workspace indicates focus and purpose. This applies to your digital desktop as well as your actual work table. More visible room on either could help your mind better find the way out of mental blocks that could pose a threat to your workflow.
So, clear out old projects and files that might constitute a distraction. Organize your physical and digital workspace and give yourself the much-needed breathing room.
Effective project management for design professionals is a complex procedure. Beyond selecting a portable mouse and having multiple monitors, you need to define your goals for each project and place them in the right order.
Prioritizing when it comes to graphic design projects is not usually difficult. You can create a to-do list of pending projects. Then, you can break these down into categories based on deadline, level of difficulty, how much the clients are paying for each project, etc.
Compartmentalizing the projects this way puts things in proper perspective for you. In fact, you wouldn’t need to switch between the projects once you have determined that one project is more important than another. Of course, the importance here is derived from your categorization earlier. So, choose any of the itemized bases—time, difficulty, or money—and stick to it.
Meanwhile, do not forget your personal and business goals. Will completing this client’s project push you closer to ticking a personal checkbox? Keep aside whichever project does not fit your checkboxes at the moment. They are distractions. Now, while distractions are easy to come by, goals can help you keep these at bay.
3. Keep Project Objectives Where You Can See Them
Out of sight, out of mind; or so the old adage claims. However, this holds true in this context. Graphic design is a creative and visual art, so it is very easy to veer off the mark while you are squeezing your imagination dry. Knowing and fixing these objectives where you can see them can keep you on track.
When it comes to objectives, it is not enough to follow every instruction that the client gives. Make sure that they know what they are asking for. Your clients have to know exactly what their goals are. Allow them to explicitly describe what they want to achieve.
Roundabout requests are common among the clients of design professionals. Even so, you can cap any possibility of this by getting your clients to clearly point out what they want you to do.
Once you have these objectives verified, make a list of them and turn them into milestones. This will help you break each project into stages and buoy your creativity as you glance at them from time to time.
4. Do Not Multitask
You should be aiming at getting the best work done within a given period, not the most work done. Are you familiar with the Pareto Principle? It is the idea that only 20 percent of all your efforts bring about 80 percent of the results you get. In other words, 80 percent of everything you do gets lost in the process. So, what if you can preserve and leverage this 80 percent? How awesome would that be?
This is why you must take things one step at a time. Do not multitask.
For the graphic designer who is used to finding a balance for shapes and colors and what these represent, keeping to only one task may be as difficult. Thankfully, consistency pays and helps you concentrate all your efforts on one thing rather than scatter them across many things. The Pareto Principle essentially guarantees that you will fail from doing too much at once.
So, keep to a task. This will be easier to do since you have compartmentalized everything.
5. Use Project and Time Management Tools
As a graphic design professional, you are likely familiar with apps for simplifying your work and boosting its results. However, what about apps that do the same thing for your efforts and time?
Project and time management is something that you can easily take for granted, especially when it requires you to register for—and download—an app. However, apps that help you manage tasks and time can allow you to do something else.
Find a suitable app that monitors everything, from your daily activities to the websites you visit as you go about your work. You can also combine different apps in a holistic way to streamline your productivity. A task scheduling app could tell you which work you’re focusing on and when. A screen tracker will then tell you how much effort, and time, you’re spending on any given work.
Faced with multiple projects, these things can help you immensely.
6. Rest and Relax
Rest and relax. There really is no better way to express this tip. When faced with more than one graphic design project, there is a temptation to just up and get to work. After all, time does not wait for anyone. However, do you know what does wait for people? Well, these include errors, failure, fatigue and stress, bad health, even death.
Diligence is—and will always be-a valuable attribute. However, knowing when to kick back is no less valuable. It could be the difference between clear and swollen eyes after your deadline whooshes by. So, never forget that your clients may be forgiving and agree to a redo when you miss your cut-off date. Even so, your body and mind will not extend the same courtesy to you. So, rest and relax.
Graphic design is a craft. Crafts require creativity. Periodic rests give your mind room to wander and explore. You might just get hit by a bolt of inspiration during this time and create a masterpiece for your client.
The ultimate goal is to remain productive despite having multiple graphic design projects on your desk. As difficult as handling these design projects may seem, you can manage them easily once you follow these tips.
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