Who’s interested in time management techniques? I am. As designers we rely on time management to ensure a smooth work flow and a good reputation. The importance of time-saving tools, then, cannot be understated. With them, a designer is able to reach his potential and still make that big deadline. Without them, we run the risk of developing some fairly irate client relationships.
Even, without factoring in client relationships, time-saving in design can eliminate frustration and keep the work flow centered on the most important elements. This in turn, can increase the quality of work produced and in the long run, resulting in better business and design style.
Below we’ll discuss a few tips for time management. Consider these as your personal keys to more effective and efficient design and work flow.
1. From Generic to “Yours”
Although, you may be functioning perfectly well using the default settings on your programs, there is no question that personalizing your workspace and your preferences could save you tons of time. Taking the time to customize could make a huge difference in the way you design as well as how fast you can complete projects.
Workspace. The best thing about customizing the workspace is that once created, each one can be saved for future use. This means that a variety of workspace can exist for any number of project specifics. Another good thing of course is the time that could potentially be saved, based on how well a designer optimizes his settings and the number of different scenarios he can anticipate.
Preferences. In order to get your programs running exactly as you’d like and need them to, most settings can be personalized by manipulating the various options available. For example, for Photoshop, you may customize the way that user interfaces are displayed or the number of history states. Then next time you use a particular element, you’ll be saving the amount of time is taken to change the default.
2. One Stop Shops
It’s always great time management to practice a certain “economy of design” by aggregating the elements you use over and over again into one folder or document so that it’s easy locate later. There’s something logically sound about eliminating superfluous acts and searching for graphics or icons you’re using repeatedly is definitely of those. Imagine the amount of time that could be saved with every element neatly tucked away into wisely-named folders.
3. Photoshop and Illustrator Time Savers
Creating templates layered with settings you use repeatedly in Photoshop could also cut your design time in half. This works well for methodical designers (and many of us are) because it allows us to save the methods we prefer already loaded onto a template. The template can quickly and easily serve as the foundation for any number of future design projects.
It makes sense that choosing colors for a new design or element takes up a huge chunk of design time since the right (or wrong) colors can really make (or break) even the best design. Creating customized color swatches could cut down the times it takes to get it right. Even more these swatches can be labeled for particular design scenarios to make finding them less time consuming, too.
The actions panel in both Photoshop and Illustrator is also an excellent time saver. This element allows designers to save a series of actions she routinely performs on particular elements. Similar to the templates above, each series can be saved and organized into folders for quick finds and ease of use in the future.
This is understandably a hot topic, and these few tips are meant to get you started.