10 Part Series: How to Increase Your Productivity as a Designer — Tip # 8: Keep Your Priorities in Check
Setting priorities can be both a trivially easy task and a ridiculously difficult task at the same time. It can be very easy to put your least favorite tasks at the bottom of the priority list, and very difficult to prioritize all of the things you really want to do. Using a structured system to prioritize tasks will take most of the difficulty out of this task, and keep you moving through projects consistently. There are several ways to prioritize this way, and each will make it easier to see where a project should fall on this list.
The first way to prioritize is obvious: time constraints. Obviously, the projects that are due the soonest should be done first, and those with more time should wait till later. This works to a degree, but is not steadfast; there will always be exceptions to this rule, and when prioritizing you should also keep other factors in mind, such as the amount of work to be done on a given project.
Speaking of amount of work, there are some projects that must be done quickly, but require relatively little work compared to another, farther off project. Factoring in the amount of time you need to spend on a particular project can mean the difference between meeting a deadline and not meeting a deadline.
Another factor is budget. If one client is paying a discounted rate, and needs their project done at the same time as a high-budget project, logic says to finish the high-budget project first. Hopefully you don’t ever need to do this and are in better control of your deadlines, but if it does happen and you run out of time, at least the client who paid top-dollar gets what they paid for.
All of these factors together, when used along with your best judgment about which clients require more attention will help you to accurately prioritize your projects in a logical, rather than emotional or motivation-driven way. The most important thing to remember, however, is that just as your lists will change inevitably, the priorities will change right along with them. Keeping focused on these changes is sure to take some stress out of your day and increase the amount of productive time you have in a day’s work.
Below are resources that may help you in organizing your workload:
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