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5 productivity hacks every designer can benefit from

Emily Belden's Layout avatar

Life hacks are simple and everywhere – for instance, try putting Nutella on everything. But productivity hacks, especially for designers, can be a bit trickier to discover, especially when your workload is piling up and the clients you work for are demanding.

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Never fear, we have gathered some of the more genius and doable productivity hacks that all designers can benefit from. Because just like coffee, it’s impossible for design to be negatively impacted with the more productivity you work into your day.

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Prioritize your work in a new way

While “soonest deadline” seems like a great way to organize the projects you plan to tackle in your day, try a different sorting credential next time you step into the office. That being, which project looks like the least amount of fun. Whatever project excites you the least should be done first in your day while your brain is fresh. Assuming that project may take a few hours, doing it first means you can mentally “reward” yourself with a clean slate that only gets better for the rest of the day.

Plan a “no meeting” day once a week

Whether it’s client-facing or just an internal regroup, designers are constantly pulled into meetings. It’s no secret that the more time away from your desk, the less time you spend actually designing.

That’s why you should block off one day a week where your shared calendar system shows as busy, but you are still in the office. This makes it near impossible for a colleague or client to book your time and will encourage them to find an open spot instead. When you know that at least one out of five days in the week will be yours to own entirely, your productivity can skyrocket.

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Find your email-checking sweet spot

Some people have hard rules against checking email on the weekends or at night because they believe work should be kept at work. However, others mentally benefit from doing a quick pulse check on their inboxes during these off-hours because it takes the stress of the unknown (i.e., will I show up to work tomorrow with 75 red flagged emails?) off their plates.

To increase your productivity, figure out what your email preferences are and don’t feel bad either way. If checking in Sunday night makes your Monday morning more palatable, go for it. If work being kept inside more traditional hours and boundaries makes you feel better, so be it.

Mind your social media manners

Social media can either be a massive distraction or a welcome breath of fresh air amid a crazy work day. To figure out if it’s the former, see if you can get through one task – a logo mock-up, a print ad layout, etc. – without clicking over to your Facebook page. If the temptation to check the stream interferes during this work time, don’t allow yourself to keep your social sites open in your web browser. Instead, make it so you must manually log on each and every time you want to see what is going on so that it functions as a well-deserved break between projects.

If the temptation is too much, try a time-tracking tool or a site blocker. We’ve got four recommendations here.

Take lunch

Productivity doesn’t equate to work, work, work. Just like your cell phone, a digital camera, or a cordless vacuum, you must recharge the batteries at some point or it will just fade to black. So even though your to-do list may feel endless, or like you won’t leave the office until the sun goes way down, it’s important to take regular breaks – including bathroom and lunch.

“Productivity doesn’t equate to work, work, work – it’s important to take regular breaks. ”

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If a co-worker asks if you want to run and grab coffee or a bite to eat, resist the urge to say “No, I’ve got too much to do,” and see what a quick, five-minute walk or 30-minute nosh session can do for your brain once you’re back at your desk.

Productivity comes in many shapes and sizes, but is crucial for any successful designer. What are your top productivity hacks that help you power through your day?

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