As busy freelancers, time is one of your most valuable assets. The more time you can save, the more money you can make.
However; you can’t just spend less time on your client work and let the quality suffer, so how do you save time?
The key is workflow.
The more efficient your workflow the more client work you can get done. By streamlining the entire process, you can be sure that all of your time spent will have huge returns.
I recently decided to set aside some time each week, to examine my workflow and research ways to improve it.
I seriously recommend trying that out for yourself. Even taking an hour a week and thinking about the non productive aspects of your day that eat up the most time. Once you identify them, finding a solution is usually fairly easy.
To give you an idea, I want to share with you what I found out about my own business. I’ve come up with a list of the methods I used to seriously cut down my project turnaround and I’d also love it if you would add your methods and tips in the comments.
1. Don’t just memorize the default quick keys; set new ones for anything you do regularly, that has you clicking through menus.
2. Create actions for tasks you do regularly. (If you do it more then 3 times daily, consider setting up an action.)
3. If you work from multiple computers, spend a little time setting up a basic home network to minimize switching between computers for printing or looking for files.
4. Take advantage of Photoshop’s powerful batch editing whenever possible.
5. Create “library files” for your most used resources. I like to keep all of my favorite vector textures on one illustrator art-board. That way when I need a texture I can open it up and try a few out all in the same file.
6. Name files as if you are naming them for someone else. This one seems like a no-brainer but can save you a ton of searching time years down the road when a client references some artwork you have long forgotten.
7. Save all of the common file types (png, jpg, eps etc.) of client work, and keep them filed neatly for when clients come asking for files. Your clients might be disorganized, but you don’t have to be.
8. Get a full, comprehensive creative brief, with all of the details sorted out, before starting any work. You can seriously reduce the back and forth with clients by getting all the info up front.
9. Pick up the phone. One call can eliminate 10 emails and really do the trick for getting you on the same page as your clients.
10. Set up file sharing (drop box / google drive) for repeat clients. This will organize your back and forth transfers and keep all of your relevant files in one place.
11. Set a daily schedule with alerts and stick to it. Pick your peak productive times and schedule the real work during those hours.
12. Schedule in time for distractions. (Keep getting sucked into social media? Set aside 30 minutes at the end of the day to go hog wild on it and the temptation to check throughout the day will be less.)
13. Find out what makes you creative and set up an office to match; minimal, filled with inspiration, cluttered, whatever works for you.
14. Control your atmosphere. I find an ambient hustle and bustle helps me work so I either work with music or coffitivity.
15. Have some non distracting inspirations. Books and magazines are perfect, they can inspire you, and they cannot access facebook.
What have you done to maximize your workflow productivity? Share your best tips in the comments.