6 Steps On How To Be A Successful Designer And Manage Your Time While Having A Full-Time Job

I come across many designers who work full-time as well as taking on projects not related to their office job. Their goal is to set themselves free freelancing and not be tight to a desk 8-5. But with free time being so limited, they keep postponing their freedom.

Having found myself in a similar position, I decided to share with the World what helped me. It takes a lot of will power and good time management skills in order to be successful. I would like to give you 6 steps that helped me to deal with a full-time job and web & graphic design, photography and video projects on the side. Start your week with:

#1. Sit down and write down what you have to do. For example, find 2 new clients, work on a banner for one client, update blog, facebook, twitter, design a poster for a client, perform website changes for a client.

#2. Make a schedule how many hours you are willing to spend each day on these projects. Please, don’t make a slave out yourself! Leave some days for relaxation with your family and friends. For example, Mon-Thu, you come home from work, cook, eat, and then you must tell your girlfriend/boyfriend to hang in there so that you can work at least for 3 hours after 8pm. Fri, no work – party night! Sat, you work 1pm-7pm and then party all night long! Sunday – Football day! But hey, if you are a baseball fan, grab a computer, sit and work listening the game. You won’t miss much anyway. Remember, if you won’t start today, the chances are, you won’t start tomorrow either… Since time is money, you lost 2 days of income already – possibly $200 or more. Think about it, if you start today, you can be $200 richer tomorrow! Do not postpone, follow Nike –  Just do it!

#3. Work at work. If you have 1 hour lunch, eat fast! And stop wasting time on useless conversations with your co-workers! Start being productive at work! Get a double pay – you are getting paid by your employer and the client. OK, OK, you may say the lunch breaks aren’t paid. Hey, you are already in the office. This lunch hour will fly by so fast that you won’t even notice, but you could accomplish a lot in it. Let’s say, you eat 20 minutes watching an episode of Frasier on Youtube, and work for 40mins. You just saved 40 minutes for the evening. Do it for 5 working days, it comes to 3.5 hours!! Instead of staying home one evening and working, how about taking you other half for a romantic dinner and then getting the much anticipated reward, an ‘after dinner party’ in your bedroom, huh? 😉

#4. Value every hour of your time! If you won’t value it, who will? It’s important in business, as well as in your everyday life. Once you start value your time, many things will start to improve. Everything is connected. Being a successful somebody, does not matter what you do, you still need to change your lifestyle, not just how you work. Very often, clients may feel that they are the only priority you got by asking you to change this, that and that other thing too. Never mentioning the rise in price. You should make them understand that every hour of your time costs money. Every sudden addition to their order will consume more of your time; therefore, more money. They will understand and appreciate the honesty.  It will cause them to either cancel the changes or pay you more to make them.  However, know the balance between being greedy and being reasonable. It’s OK to throw in a freebie once in a while. It may actually bring you more clients. ‘Word of mouth’ is the most helpful resource in my experience in getting new clients.

#5. Agree to take any project you are offered even if you are swamped. Turning away clients… BAD IDEA! They will find another you… Maybe he or she will not be as good, but they will be cheaper… and located in Ukraine or India… Does your client care who does the work? I don’t think so as long as it is done and works fine. Bad economy nowadays is also a sad factor since a lot of people go straight to outsourcing companies making the prices go dooooown like a rock. But don’t get upset, there can be a use to it as well. Let’s say you have NO time to deal with a project you are offered. Hey, you gotta be a ‘yes’ man and tell ‘yes’ to everything. The client is always right, right?… Nooot! Having worked in a four-star hotel as a Front Office Manager for a year taught me different… Anyway, you tell them ‘yes’, then Bam! Hello, Elance and Hello, India!! Outsource it just this once. Still, you will make some money. Plus, most importantly, your client still will come back to you and not someone else.

#6. It’s Tuesday, midnight. Tomorrow, another difficult day at work awaits. You are tired, sleepy, hungry, angry… Your other half is already in bed, all upset because you have been sitting and working on a project all evening totally ignoring her/him. And the worst part is that when you look at what you made, you realize OMG, it is due tomorrow it will take you another 3 hours to finish it. FML! Don’t worry, thanks to chemicals that are available today, our bodies can and will function fine even with 2-3 hours of sleep. So my advice is, in case of emergency, drink:
1. Green Tea (a much healthier source of energy than any other drink).
2. Coffee (well, if you can’t handle green tea or it does not work for you, I guess this is the next alternative, a less healthy one though. Since coffee is an acid, it takes 32 cups of water to get rid of this acid. Keep it in mind when you drink. In my health center, in college, whenever I felt sick with cold or stomach ache, their answer was always the same: “Drink more water!” So if you gotta have it, drink more water!
3. Energy Drinks (personally, I am against them. How can a drink be healthy and natural if it has an acidly yellow, orange or blue color…? Which chemicals are in them? You can read which, but I am not sure it will tell you much.

So there. Hope it helps. Please suggest more ways of being a more productive designer/programmer.

Create! Follow your passion! ®


About Nookeen


Posted on July 31, 2010, in Articles, Useful Stuff and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Thanks for the advice! I liked the part about the “after dinner party”… 🙂

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