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Getting New Projects Off to a Great Start

Design projects can often be somewhat unpredictable, considering the natural ups and downs of a creative flow, as well as changing client expectations. This can make it difficult to maintain a successful business, because you become profitable when you use your time efficiently. If you ever fall victim to creative blocks and daily distractions, here are tools and techniques to help you kick off your projects right, and to maintain an efficient workflow.

Plan Ahead

Some designers make the mistake of trying to come up with a plan and pricing system as they develop a project, but you’ll make much better use of your time (and your client’s) if you plan ahead.

Track your time.

The cost of a project is often difficult for designers to decide upon. In order to get the most money for your time, you should first track the time it typically takes you to complete a project. That way, you can have a good idea of how long a project will take, and you can charge accordingly.

Tracking Programs

  • Toggl: This is a super simple, free tool that you can use on your computer or phone to set a timer while you work.

  • Colorhat: This is cloud-based software that enables you to track time, as well as manage projects and send invoices.

Set expectations.

Once you’ve had an initial briefing with your client to nail down a project goal, provide your client with a written contract with a breakdown of costs. This guarantees that they understand the design process (and exactly where their money is going) ahead of time to prevent future confusion. This also limits the opportunity for scope creep in your projects, which is when you end up doing more work than what you initially agreed to.

Maximize Productivity

To maintain a constant productivity level, it’s important to first set realistic deadlines. This includes incremental deadlines within the final deadline, by which you should have significant parts of your project completed; you can even have your client approve each stage so that you stay in sync. Follow this productivity guide to gain insight into your specific productivity issues.

Project Management Programs

  • Basecamp: This is the leading project management app specifically designed to cater to group collaboration. It organizes and stores all aspects of a project, including schedules, individual tasks, discussion feeds, etc. – which makes collaborating remotely extremely easy.

  • Solo: On the other hand, if you’re working alone, this is a great tool for managing projects that tracks time, organizes a planner, graphs project breakdowns and illustrates progress.

Stay Motivated

To combat any lulls in creative energy, make sure to work in an atmosphere that is conducive to your creative process. For example, listen to inspiring music, adjust the lighting and take part in designer blogs to share and gain inspiration. Take frequent breaks to notice your surroundings and maybe expand your perspective to keep motivation for your projects high.

Now you know how to tackle your projects with confidence, strategy and consistency.

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