Coffee shops. Living rooms. Maybe even still tucked away in bed with an open laptop.
Being a freelance designer allows the freedom to work from literally anywhere, but how can you be sure you’re executing every day to the highest productivity levels? There are continuous distractions, interruptions and creativity blocks that tend to plague most of us on a daily basis. Here are 5 key steps that I’ve learned over the years to make myself as efficient as possible each time I sit down in front of the computer screen:
1. Create Specific Task Lists
I break down my task list into two parts: the first are tasks that need to be completed today, while the second is for keeping in my periphery while placing on the back burner. The key to this list is making it tangible. Set daily goals that are realistic but challenging enough to keep you motivated throughout the work day, and ultimately end with that gratifying moment of crossing another item off your list.
2. Avoid “Blank Canvas Syndrome”
This has to be every designers fear of getting stuck on a project and watching the time tick away as the deadline approaches. Some of the ways I try to avoid getting stuck include:
– Switch over to a different project. I’ve found that checking another thing off my list can occasionally spur my mind into coming up with an idea that I was trying to work through.
– Take a break: Eat a snack (I lean towards cheeseburgers), go to the gym, take a walk, do something to get your mind off staring at the screen
– Have valuable resources on standby to spark inspiration. I personally love dribbble.com, behance.com, designinspiration.com to help sprout ideas when I’m in a jam.
3. Get a Jump Start on Tomorrow
This is probably my favorite trick. Before I end a day if a new project is starting I like to get a base foundation started for the project. Often times this gets your mind thinking about ways to work through the project and gives you a foundation to jump into the project right when you sit down for work the next day.
4. Distractions? Shut ‘Em Out.
If you are strapped for time and need to focus on what you are doing, turn your phone off (or even to ‘do not disturb’), shut off your email and instant messenger. The quicker you can eliminate distractions, the quicker you can focus and cross it off your ‘To Do’ list.
5. Track Your Hours
Before I started doing this, I had a rough idea for how much time specific tasks would end up taking me but never had definitive number. This entire process was tough for me to start doing because there seem to be many times I end up being far more creative than other times. The way to look at it at the end of the day is you start to drill down your hours and locate your averages and you will be more effective not only allocating your time but making sure you are estimating the cost to a realistic standard.
Working remote allows you to tackle projects from a comfortable atmosphere that best suits you, but can also provide challenges not commonly dealt with in a corporate setting. With that, know that there are proactive measures that remote workers can take to ensure that regardless of where you are, work will get done and at the high level both you and your boss know you’re capable of.