6 Types of Time-Challenged Designers (& How To Overcome It)

View Comments by on 29 November 2013

Now, I don’t want to brag, but I get a lot done.

I’ve always been impatient and I want results yesterday so I push myself hard. I also make a habit of regularly apologising to my loved ones for the pace I sometimes set; but hey, it seems to be the mark of an entrepreneur in ‘hustle phase’, so kinda goes with the territory!

It wasn’t always like that, though. Once upon a time I struggled with getting stuff done, I struggled to carve enough time out of my day to work on my big goals and I felt like I was drowning under all the pressure. So, what changed?

I did.

Now, listen close because this is one of the greatest discoveries I’ve made when it comes to managing people, and myself!

Before you can master any time management tools, you have to master yourself. Yeah, I know, deep, right?

So let’s look at the issue of time management for a moment...

Yes, time management was my saviour, as it will be yours. It was the foundation skill I needed to learn in order to build the business I have today. 

But when you’re a freelancer, or even a designer employee, it’s often not the biggest problem you face in order to succeed.

Most people DO know how to manage their time; they just don’t. So, why is that?  

It’s called mindset.

Today I’m going to give you some tips on how to take the foot off your internal brakes so you can build a business you love. But first, we need to diagnose what kind of time management challenge we’re dealing with.

What kind of time-management mindset
do you have?

   Time-challenged designers.

Are you that type of creative who has no idea about time? Do you swim in an ocean of timelessness until you’re rudely bothered by people who needs things NOW?

Are you the one person in your friendship circle who is always running late? Are you always rushing around last minute?

Ha, you probably think you can drive from from A to B in 10 minutes, no matter if it’s 5km away or 50km… and then you’re surprised when you’re late!

Am I right?

I get it, you’re a little bit time-retarded, and so was I once!

Maybe you were aware of time once, but now you’re working for yourself you’ve gotten a bit lazy and fallen out of the habit of charging for every minute of your day. Uh uh my designery friend, not on my watch!

There are ways to improve and it starts by retraining your mind to feel what 15 minutes feels like.

TIP: Get a kitchen timer and start doing tasks in 15 minute intervals. Look up the Pomodoro Technique to help you with this. 

Or even get a little iPhone app like the ‘time timer’ which will measure out blocks of time for you. Start small and control what you do for exactly 15 minutes, one task, no distractions. 

You’d be surprised how things can change if you start gaining even the smallest control over your day again. 

Wouldn’t it feel great to feel in control of time for a change?  

2.    Skill-challenged designers.

Maybe you enrolled in design college but never finished your course and now you’re freelancing. You’re not alone. I worked 4 years in the job before I got my proper piece of paper. Did you know most designers aren’t actually ‘qualified’?

You’re probably doing an awesome job but if you’re struggling with time management issues, it might not be because of a lack of systems, it could be a lack of some critical design skills.

Is this you?

If so, let me guess, you’re probably taking on all the work you can, being all gung-ho which is great, but there’s probably stuff you don’t know how to do (yet). You’re confident when you take the job, but when it’s time to deliver you have a freak out and avoid it as long as you can, you delay it longer and longer until your client is getting mightily pissed. Then somehow you manage to push something out at the eleventh hour, it’s not your best work but it passes.

The fear of the unknown is one of the biggest sources of procrastination for a lot of people, so don’t feel bad. It’s just time to ‘eat those frogs’ and learn what you need to be a better (and faster designer).

TIP: Address what you know and what you don’t. Decide how you like to learn, will an online course help or do you need some classroom time, or even some one-on-one design tutoring? Get in and learn what you need to know. You’ll feel a huge sense of relief when you do.    

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3.    Career-challenged designers.

Do you like what you do? Do you like running a design agency or being a freelancer? Actually, let’s go back a step, do you truly enjoy graphic/web design? Would you rather be baking cupcakes or fixing motorbikes?

Sometimes we have to examine ourselves and our deepest desires. Are we where we want to be?

If making gorgeous cupcakes makes you happiest then life’s too short, find a way to make it pay. Stranger things have happened; my hairdresser used to be a lawyer, I kid you not, and she’s never been happier! 

Still, if you DO want to swap graphic design for cupcakes you’ll still need to know how to manage your time, so keep reading!  ;-)

: Follow your bliss and admit if you thought design was what you wanted, but it really isn’t. Most people have 4 complete career changes in their lifetime, so it’s OK if it‘s time to call it a day. Just do me a favour and finish those projects and make sure you have an income before you throw in the design towel!  

4.    Motivation-challenged designers.

If you DO like design, maybe your challenge is something else. 

Maybe you generally lack motivation and you don’t know why. Guess what? Ultimately you don’t need to know why you don’t do something. You just need to create new behaviours until your mindset catches up!

This one starts with finding the right motivation to change. Then it finishes off with having the right time-saving tools at your disposal to make it easier to manage your time, your day and your business.

: If general motivation is an issue, first acknowledge any negative thinking you’re holding (like fear of success), and then find ways to have ‘little wins’ in your day to give you some positive energy back into your work day. 

And remember you don’t have to be in business if you really hate it, but unless you’ve got a ginormous trust fund, you’re going to need to answer to someone. Why not answer to yourself? 

And if you do it right, you can achieve a fantastic work life balance that you just couldn’t get anywhere else…. 

So please, stick with it and get motivated by whatever floats your boat… even if that IS a shiny new boat! J

5.   Anti-Authoritarian Designers.

You may laugh at this one, but us creatives can be a difficult lot!

We may have been the goths or the oddballs at school, and we’ve never really changed since then (except now we might look like hipsters, lol). 

So, maybe you’re anti-authoritarian by nature and on an unconscious level you see your client’s as that authority? 

Yes I know, I’m getting pretty new-age here but bear with me. Could there be some truth to my suggestion? Do you hate clients ‘telling you what to do’ when they chase you for their projects, that you drag your feet, just to get back at them? 

I hope not, but if you do, you can be redeemed my child! J

TIP: If authority is an issue, remember they aren’t your boss, you are. Clients aren’t the enemy, they’re just people who can’t design and they’ve come to you for help. If you see them as people and not annoyances it will go a lot easier. 

And remember a promise is a promise and if you’ve said you’ll deliver by a date, do it. You’d be surprised at how much client love you’ll get in return, and hey, you might even like it!


6.     Perfectionistically-challenged designers! 

This is one I still struggle with, and that brings up a good point:

We’re never ‘fixed’ when it comes to time management.

The important thing is to keep getting better, know your weaknesses, and never give up; but I digress....

I think most procrastination comes down to having unrealistically high expectations of yourself. There’s nothing worse than that horrible paralysing fear of failure. You’ll put jobs off because you know you won’t be able to do it to the right standard it needs to be.

Or, on the flipside, you’ll push to overachieve and keep working and polishing and making the project bigger and better than it has to be. This makes you stress out and have NO life because you’ve suddenly turned a simple project into Ben Hur. 

Either way, this is bad news for your business because delays cost time, and extra work (that you aren’t being paid for) costs time… and time… is money!

TIP: Write this motto on your wall where you work: “Better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing flawlessly” – Robert Schuller.

In summary, once you’ve understood what is holding you back from managing your projects you’ve got a great chance at overcoming it. 

You just need the will to change and then you action to start. Even though your issue might seem complex and confusing, it’s really that simple.

Are you time-challenged? If so, which one are you? Leave me a comment...

P.S. If you need time-saving tools we have every tip and trick in the book just waiting for you. Keep track of jobs, use our time-saving admin templates, quote templates, cheat sheets and everything you could need to handle the ‘boring’ but important stuff. Interested? Check out my ProPartner program it’ll give you all the ‘how-to’ knowledge that a web designer needs.

What do you think? Share your comments below.


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