How to win the day

Being an effective designer requires being a productive designer. You can’t be an effective designer without getting the deep creative design work done.

We’re only one week into 2021. It’s a new year and a fresh start. What better time to make leaps forward in your productivity as a designer.

If you want to be a high performing designer you have to be a highly productive designer.

For simplicity, let’s break work down into two basic categories:

  1. Deep work: The work that requires your full creativity and problem solving attention. Often challenging and requiring you to have focus to make any real progress on it. The new feature for an app, the design concept for a client pitch, etc. (Only the deep work ends up in your portfolio, btw).
  2. Menial tasks: The tasks we all have to do but don’t actually move designers forward in their career. The small time-sucking things like email, copy updates, file exports, etc. Creativity, focus and critical thinking are not required to get these done.

Now, one of the best ways to be a highly productive designer is to be strategic about how you structure your day.

It’s better to end the day with the small menial time-sucking tasks than to start the day with them. When you start the day with anything but the deep work, you get behind on the work that really matters.

You’ve been there, where the morning at work is filled with menial tasks, email responses, file exports, distractions, Dribbble/Behance surfing, etc. Before you know it, it’s 1pm and the critical design work that you have to make progress on today is still looming over you, now larger than ever. The important design project that’s due at the end of the week that you don’t feel inspired for remains untouched. The wireframes for the new app feature that you need to brainstorm are still hardly underway.

In contrast, doing your deep work first leaves the menial, non-creative time-sucking tasks for later in the day when your energy and focus is reduced. Crushing the important creative work with focused attention early, as your top priority, tilts the day in your favor and allows you to put first things first.

That’s how to win the day.
Give it a shot and see how it goes.

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