I’m a designer and I know I have lots of flaws and weaknesses, putting me far from being able to design the perfect product. I know I can’t trust myself, but that motivates me to idiot-proof my whole workflow. I help myself with any app and service there is, I test myself a hundred times and I make sure I’m doing the right job, before I publish it. This is my personal way of managing workflow, and if you’re having some (or all) of the self-management problems I’m having, I hope you’ll use these tools for your benefit (Also, at the end of the post you can sign up for the newsletter and get a checklist of this workflow for your personal use).
You really need a system if you’re gonna make it work
I’ve recently watched the movie Memento. If you haven’t yet – go watch it ASAP. Although I didn’t have a traumatic incident that made me suffer from a short-term memory loss, I related to the movie’s main character, Leonard (Who did suffer from a short-term memory loss). I was born with a kind of a limited and selective memory. I can’t help it, I have a lot of things running through my brain, and they’re not all work-related. This can cause some major problems when I’m working with clients; I can’t just forget about something we talked about and not do it. I know that if I won’t write my plans right away, I will probably forget about them and have a very awkward moment in a couple of days/weeks/months.
Let’s say I talked with a client about a job. My way of making sure I’ll remember this is having a task-management app. I use Any.Do, but there are a lot of great apps for tasks and notes. Here are some task and notes managers I’ve used. See what suits you the best:
Any.Do – A clean and beautiful task management app.
Trello – A very rich tool for managing your stuff with cards. Not just tasks.
Todoist – An app for task management, that also have a great sharing ability for groups.
Evernote – A very rich note taking app.
Google Keep – Another Beautiful note taking app. I find it really reliable.
By the way – make sure your app has a good integration for both mobile and web. It will save you a lot of headache
I got to be honest – I’m terrible at organizing. My desk is a mess, I forget stuff all the time and I tend to be overwhelmed by big tasks that take a lot of time. Therefore, when I start my day, I make sure I write all my tasks on a piece of paper. A physical one. Writing it down, using real ink and real paper really makes my tasks feel more realistic. My tasks need to be as simple as they can get, so I won’t be afraid of them. My tasks’ phrasing needs to be efficient, supportive and not-intimidating. I need my tasks to leave me zero challenge at understanding what I need to do. For instance – “Search Sketch tricks for a donut pie-chart”, instead of “Create a nice pie-chart”. I also leave a little checkbox for me to tick and feel satisfied.
Learning how to do the job
The tasks are ready and so am I. Now is the time to actually design. I’m using Sketch to design. I was a true Photoshop fan until I discovered Sketch and now I’m in love. But here’s the catch – I have no idea how to use half of Sketch’s abilities. No worries, if there’s one thing I learned from using Adobe products is that the only thing you need to create stuff is the program and an internet connection. I know I don’t know how to create something, but I know I can learn how to do it online.
A quick Google can make you an expert at something within minutes.
How will I know if my design work is okay?
I think I’ve created a good enough piece of work, but that’s just me. I mean, I’m influenced by certain stuff and certain designers, but it’s just my own personal taste, I can’t decide what’s good for everyone. It’s a good thing I have social networks and communities that would help me out – Facebook groups, Slack communities, fellow designers. Asking for other people’s opinion will cover my blindspots.
I need to know my work is doing its job
Well, from a designer’s point of view, my work is good, but a designer’s review isn’t enough. I need to know that my users are satisfied with my work. I have no idea what they are experiencing, because I don’t know them. Knowing this, I can find analytics tools that will help me – Google Analytics, PIWIK, etc… These tools can help me overcome my inability to communicate with my users.
Does it work?
At the end of the process, I design something that is good and suits my audience (whether it’s my readers or users), in spite of my organization flaws, my bad memory, and my lack of knowledge and experience. Those are the flaws and skills I’ve been given, and I need to complete my tasks with them. I knew exactly what is my final product and how I’m supposed to succeed making it, and it’s all because I know I have no fucking clue of half of the things I do along the way.
Do you find this workflow effective? Do you have any alternate workflow? Please let me know in the comments.