How to get more design work done in less time

Articles August 30, 2011

I’ve been freelance designing for a few years now and there’s one thing I never seem to have enough of:


And since I know for a fact that there are only 24 hours in the day no matter where you live on the planet, I bet you’ve run into the same problem I have now and again.

Today, I’d like to touch on how to get more design work done in less time. Why? Because if you can get more done in less time it leaves more hours in the day to relax, spend with your family, and do whatever else is on your list of things to do.

So here are a few ways I have found I can maximize my design time in order to get more done in less time:


Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ to a potential client.

One of the most important lessons I have ever learned about getting more design done in less time is to say no to clients who I know will be time-suckers.

It can be tempting (especially when you’re just starting out) to accept any client that comes your way. But as you avoid clients that will need more hand-holding than usual, you can focus on the clients that let you streamline the design as much as possible, thus saving you time for client-hunting or any other task you’ve been neglecting.




Outsource projects you’re not skilled at.

Outsource has become a bad word. But all I mean by this sentence is that designers should hire and work with other people who might be more skilled at certain tasks.

If, for example, you aren’t very good at logo design, but your client wants a new web site with a new logo, perhaps you can work with another designer to design the logo, take a small percentage off the top, and then design and code the web site for your client.

Don’t waste time trying to be good at something that you’re clearly not good at.

Create design automations.

Another quick way to speed up the design process is to create automations. Photoshop, for example, will let you automate certain actions. If there’s a gradient effect that you’ll be using on multiple elements throughout the design, create an action in Photoshop and then simply click to apply when you’ve got a new element that needs to match.

Other automations that streamline the design process can include learning keystroke shortcuts for design programs, starting with wireframes, and similar techniques.

Close your browser (and remove any other distractions)

The biggest cause of getting less work done is being distracted. It’s easy to get sucked into looking through blog post after blog post learning techniques, getting inspired or learning how to freelance.

In order to get as much done as possible, remove all the distractions you can. Set aside a certain amount of time each day or week for these sorts of activities and then, when it’s time to work, just work.

How do you get more done in less time?

Surely, I’ve left out some tips for getting more design done in less time. What resources or techniques do you use in order to get more done in less time? Share them with me by leaving a comment.


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Preston D Lee is a designer, internet marketer, and entrepreneur. He founded where he and other designers blog about the business of design: freelancing tips, client advice, and business strategies for designers. Connect with Preston on twitter at @prestondlee or Google+.

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  • Amy Willis

    Something that I always do, is work on the project that I’m most excited about first. This of course only works if you have some time between your deadlines, but if I have two projects that I need to work on on the same day, I’ll work on the one that inspires me the most, then hopefully the creative juices will flow into the next project. Good tips Preston!

  • Kris Branch

    Faced with a choice between a really hard project and an easy one, I generally do the hard one first. Makes the easy one feel like a vacation and actually goes much quicker.

  • Kris Branch

    Faced with a choice between a really hard project and an easy one, I generally do the hard one first. Makes the easy one feel like a vacation and actually goes much quicker.

  • Nora Al Ashaikh

    don’t work while watching TV or being hungry, I make my desk full of snacks so I don’t wast time by going anywhere searching or making anything.
    something else work for me I love working between 1 am – 6 am at this time my family in the house are mostly sleep so I can focus on the project without any distractions.

  • Makitoni

    I’m a student, but I really wanna go freelancer.
    I’ve learned that it is useful to try and think in many ideas rather than just one in order to solve a problem or work. It may take less time and less stress to do it this way
    hope that helps someone! surely it helped me!