Being a designer or a visual artist is exciting but it also has a lot of ups and downs (trust me, I speak from experience!). Here are the challenges I faced most often on my journey from a junior to full–fledged graphic and UI/UX designer, and the hacks I’ve come up to overcome these.
#1: Move from small tasks to big projects
When you are still a junior designer, you are not usually working on smaller projects that make a smaller difference, and even more often you serve as helping hand to the more experienced designers on the team. The thing with these smaller and less significant tasks is, they tend to pile up and transform into a never-ending list.
How to hack this: It’s simple: ask to be assigned projects with want to be involved with – even if you only participate partially. Go into those decision-making meetings, listen and observe. By doing so you will gradually step into the project and when that happens, creativity is going kick in by itself. When a good idea is born, it doesn’t matter who it came from. And trusts me, nothing is more valuable by good ideas, especially in startups.
#2: Manage your time
Even if you start working on bigger, more massive projects, you would still have a ton of small tasks that can easily overthrow your schedule. This means that often it will be to swiftly manage your time.
How to hack this: Learn to prioritize. I am not talking about only focusing in the bigger tasks, but finishing the projects that you have started. By taking on only the most time-consuming design tasks in your projects, you risk being dragged down by those small, unfinished things you need to design. Focus on one task at a time and never forget that it is better to have 1 completely finished project that 3 projects that are 90% ready but not done. There will always be work left to be done, so better first finish what you have started.
#3: Recharge and avoid burnouts
Let’s say you have become a wizard at time-management and more often than not you stay on schedule and finish all your tasks by the end of the week. Then you get assigned (or assign yourself) more work, and the fun park starts – you need to generate new ideas, and everyone expects the best from you (after all, you are the one with a creative mind and you’re expected to have pockets full of fresh ideas). But what happens when creativity doesn’t strike and you fall victim of a creative burnout? Ouch.
How to hack this: Lean back and take a deep breath. Go grab a coffee, take a walk, just hit the pause button. Your creative brain just needs a break. Take some time to clear your mind and get distance from the previous concepts you’ve worked on. Search for some inspiration, it doest`t even have to be on the same topic. My personal go-to places are Pinterest and AWWWARDS – these are packed with good ideas and always help me get a fresh look on an old design challenge.
#4: Learn to say no
“Hey, can you prepare those share thumbnails, it will take only a second?”
“Please, resize those banners so I can publish them in 20 minutes.”
“I’ve run out of bushiness cards, please change the phone number on them and purchase more
Imagine all this happens within an hour (and it does!).
How to hack this: There are times when you just have to say ”No”. I am not talking about ”No, I wont do it at all” here, don’t get me wrong – what you need to say is “No, not today, I have other things to do”. You may feel bad at first but you’ll soon realize you are not at ER and saying ”No” to requests that will interrupt your process is always and will actually make your more productive.
#5: Minimize cuts-ins
Working in an open-space office or at a creative agency means that you will be interrupted. A lot. Whether this happens over IM or face to face, it is the reason for your work to come to a temporary halt.
How to hack this: rWear headphones!. Just kidding (or am I?). Many instant messengers like Slack or Skype for instance have built-in status icon. Setting your icon to “Do not disturb” and blasting your music in your headphones are a bliss when coming close to that deadline.
#6: Streamline collaboration
When working in a design team, there are often times when different parts of the projects are given to different team members. For example, when creating a video ad, my part is to create a compelling graphics and pass them for post-production where the static images and the motion graphics would be put together But as know files can be huge are sending over over different versions on them can take forever.
How to hack this: pCloud Drive comes to the rescue. It is a practically an additional, virtual hard drive for your computer but with some pretty great sharing options. Once I’m done with the first version of the video graphics, I simply create a folder and share it with the post-production guy – this way, I avoid having to send those huge files via e-mail. Plus, every time I make a change to the files, they are immediately updated in the shared folder.
#7: Keep all resources in the same place
For many designers, handling those huge .psd, .ai etc. files is a nightmare – there are a lot memory sticks and external hard drives involved in the princess. This is both expensive and inconvenient, and it makes you less flexible as it often ties you to a particular work station.
How to hack this: As I already mentioned, using pCloud solves that problem because with it I have my work files synced on my computers at the office and at home, and yeah, if I need to see how those mobile designs look on actual phone, I have them synced on my mobile device too.
Haven’t used pCloud Drive yourself? Try it with a free account:
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