The experienced designer's unsaid rules for getting work done
by Tobias van Schneider
It may not be common advice, but with time, every designer learns this is the only way to manage creative work.
1. The thing you’re avoiding is likely the thing you need to do first.
2. If you can hand it off to someone who will do it faster or better than you, hand it off.
3. If you have a full day and someone gives you a new task, ask them: "Which task would you like me to complete today?" This puts the responsibility on them to prioritize the task for you, and for themselves.
4. If your list contains more than three big tasks, update your list. The reality is that you will accomplish one or two big things and a lot of little ones today. The rest will have to wait for tomorrow.
5. Estimate your time for every task, whether or not your job requires you to do it. You already have 8 hours of work on your schedule for today and someone gives you another 1 hour task? Then you immediately know something has to shift. Taking on more than you can physically do in a day only sets yourself and others up for disappointment. Understanding what’s actually feasible in a day makes you someone others can count on.
– That said, you'll learn when it's necessary to take on the extra 1 hour task and work a little later that day. There are times when helping someone else out, making the project better or making up for a missed deadline is worth the sacrifice.
6. If you’re having trouble finding motivation, or you keep putting off a daunting task, tell yourself you only have to start. (And maybe even in the middle.) Once you begin, the rest is easy.
7. If you get distracted often, which leads to you working all hours of the day, it’s because you’ve told yourself you can. You’ve chosen to use your free time to catch up on wasted time. Start every day with a firm end time, and envision yourself doing what you want to do on the other side of that time. Discipline is simply having an imagination. When you have no boundaries, you only cheat yourself.