Graphic design can be a job, but most of the time it is a passion and a rewarding lifelong career. One of the most interesting things about graphic design careers is that they’re not only deeply fulfilling, but that there is ample room for growth, innovation, and lifelong success. But to achieve all those things, you not only have to be amazing at what you do, but you also have to be organized and run your design business like a well-oiled machine.
Remember, it’s not just about getting as many great clients as you can, or doing as much work as you can because without proper organization you will start experiencing burnout and your work is going to suffer as a result. To prevent that, you need to organize your work and your design studio quickly (but without having to make any costly changes), so let’s take a look at the best ways you can take your business forward.
Declutter your office and your computer
First things first, in order to become more productive, efficient, and happier in your work, you can’t constantly rummage through a pile of files, mockups, swatches, sticky notes, and of, where is that USB you made for that big client? Working in a cluttered office (at home or otherwise) is unbelievably frustrating, and even though you might think you enjoy your creative mess, secretly your brain is struggling to maintain its willingness to work.
Don’t torture yourself, declutter your office. Organize your workstation, as well as your inbox, and keep only the essentials on the desktop. Everything you should keep in labeled drawers and side folders. Next, move on to your computer and start cleaning up your hard drive and desktop, making sure to put everything in their respective folders, organized, and color-coded – you can do the third one if you use Google Drive, for example.
Establish systems and processes
Now that you have decluttered and organized your workstation, you can start acting like a real boss and manage your design business properly. Every successful business has concrete systems and processes (also known as standard operating procedures) that it uses in different scenarios and circumstances, and so should you. It might be a drag and you might be a creative soul with noticeable disdain towards the business side of things, but the reality is that you’ll never be able to ascend to the next level without acting like a business leader.
To that end, the only way to create masterpieces as a designer on a continuous basis is to have a process and a workflow for every client and every scenario. Got an email from a potential client? Don’t think about your rates, but respond to it quickly using a pricing table you made. The deadline for a particularly difficult project is coming up? Know exactly how much time and what resources you need to devote on a daily basis to meet the deadline.
Sort and make better use of your Gmail contacts
Graphic designers handle a lot of contacts every day, from their partners and other companies they work with, all the way to their external collaborators and colleagues, and of course, the clients themselves. Naturally, every client will have several points of contact with the designer, because numerous people will inevitably be involved in every project. This creates a real mess in your Gmail inbox, and it makes sorting and managing your contacts a nightmare.
If you want to be more efficient in your work and manage your design business successfully, you need a tool that allows you to share Google contacts seamlessly with your colleagues and delegate with ease, among other important tools. One of the most popular tools out there to share Google Contacts, Shared Contacts for Gmail, allows you to do that and much more by simply integrating it with your existing Gmail account. It’s a simple and effective way to retake control of your Gmail contacts and start managing the business side of things with ease.
Now declutter your schedule and start delegating
Speaking of delegating easily, keep in mind that it’s nearly impossible to grow your design business all on your own. At one point or another, the workload will become too much for you to handle alone, and you will need to find external collaborators to take some of the pressure off.
The key to delegating effectively, though, is to organize and declutter your schedule and figure out what you need to do yourself and what you can outsource. Devote your time and attention to craft a marketing and growth plan for your business, managing client relationships, and handling projects, but delegate the menial tasks to trusted partners in your field.
Become more productive with a few tricks
Productivity is not something you can simply demand of yourself, but it is something you can inspire and empower within you. Firstly, you need to banish distractions and stop procrastinating. If you can’t make yourself ditch social media during your work hours, there are browser extensions out there that will block those websites for you.
Next, you need to lead a healthy lifestyle in order to be productive. Take regular breaks from your work to hydrate and refuel with healthy foods, and banish junk food from your day completely. Exercise on a regular basis, and include some home-office stretching to re-energize and revitalize your body and mind throughout the day.
Over to you
Building a career as a graphic designer is a fun and rewarding journey, but you can only become successful if you organize your work and your life. With these essential tips in mind, go ahead and become a better graphic designer and take your business to that next level.