Has your freelance design career hit a snag? Are you running on empty when it comes to creative productivity? Maybe you just started your freelance journey and could use a little advice on how to get things rolling. I’ve seen many freelance web designers struggle with inspiration, both in my current role as the Head of UX at Webydo, and during my time in the web design business.
After spending time pondering this very common dilemma, I came up with four simple, yet practical ways to jump-start your design creativity and help boost your freelance career.
Maximize Your Productivity Peak
If we’re honest with ourselves, there are certain times of the day in which we’re naturally more productive. For some, this may be in the wee hours of the morning before the first rays of sunlight pour over the horizon. Others might find themselves more motivated to put their nose to the proverbial grindstone when the rest of us are heading for the pillow. Regardless of when your peak productivity window occurs, there’s likely far more hours in the day that are decidedly less productive.
It’s inside these hours that we’re often times forced to focus on being creative when creativity has long since departed. Maximizing productivity in these “off” times is not only crucial to your freelance success, but also imperative to maintaining sanity when it matters most!
One of the best ways to accomplish this is to simply start off easy. Rather than trying to get motivated to work on a huge, multi-faceted design project, focus on just sitting down at your desk and creating. Creating what? Doesn’t matter. It should be something fun and enjoyable that you can quickly get motivation to do. Whether it has anything to do with the project at hand doesn’t matter. All you need is something to get your rear in the chair and your creative juices flowing. After a few minutes of “warmup”, start transitioning to the larger tasks at hand.
You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much easier it is to work during less than ideal hours when you take this approach.
Add Some Spice to Your Workplace
Let’s face it. Unless your creativity thrives on the inside of your eyelids, the environment in which you work plays a huge role in productivity. We’re naturally visual people so we have an inherent need to be visually stimulated by our immediate surroundings. As such, it’s a good idea to make your work environment as creatively energizing as possible!
This doesn’t look the same for all people. Some might enjoy lots of little creative knick knacks, while others might prefer a more utilitarian approach in the form of functional art. Either way, it’s important to keep the environment fresh and in tune with your own creative ways. The whole purpose here is to help energize your productivity and keep things fun!
Take a Hike!
No, seriously. Get out of your chair, find your way outside and start walking. I’ll wait. Taking regular breaks from arduous design work is crucial for designers, even more so for freelancers. Often times we get buried under mountains of work that piles up behind stiff deadlines. This constant grind can cause undue amounts of stress and quickly kill creative momentum.
One of the best ways to combat the physical and psychological wear and tear of freelancing is to simply make time to step away from it all. That doesn’t mean turning away from your desk and jumping on Facebook for five minutes either. We’re talking about physically getting away from your workspace to clear your mind. You never know what kind of wonders a little sunshine can do for your creative productivity.
Brilliant design ideas are unfortunately very similar to lightning. Sometimes they come in bunches, other times they’re nowhere to be found. You simply can’t predict them. While it’s very convenient to have flashes of brilliance while you’re in the thick of a complex design, often times these great ideas and concepts come when you could be further from the office.
It’s for this reason you should always carry some way to record these moments of genius to put into practice later. Feel free to get fancy or even high tech, but just be sure to have a notepad, sketchpad or cell phone handy or risk the regret of forgetting. On that note, before you head out for the day or evening, be sure to jot down a brief summary of what you’re currently working on with your recording device of choice. The next time you have a few minutes to kill, instead of reaching for social media, pull out your sketchpad and brainstorm some ideas!
Who knows, maybe happy hour is the perfect time to push through your design blocks!
And there you have it. Now you’ve got four wonderfully practical ways to help usher your freelance career into the next level. Just be sure to remember, never stop being creative!