How to Stay Productive

I recently had a client tell me that I am “the most organized person on Earth” and while I think that’s a bit of an exaggeration, I CAN juggle a lot of projects at one time. One of the main ways that I like to keep myself and others at work organized are… LISTS!

This might seem really simple, but having a solid list of priorities is essential. Here’s how I use lists to manage my own time, and our project time at Design 2.0.

Managing Time for Others

Each morning I get up a little bit before the work day starts and send out my famous “Priorities for [Date]” emails. I’ve been sending these for over 12 years now and they ensure that everyone knows what tasks to work on, in what order and the expectation for when they are to be completed. I send this email to Rick every single work day, as well as any other designers or developers we’ve worked with on projects over the years.

Example:

Good Morning [Person’s First Name]!

Below please find a list of the priorities for [Date] in the order we need to do them. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Thanks!

  • Task number one: Include relevant project details, exactly what needs to be completed today and if there is a deadline (IE- submit to Chelsey by 2pm). If there are further details and assets, I point them back to that information in our Basecamp account.
  • Task number two: Include relevant project details, exactly what needs to be done today and if there is a deadline (IE It’s okay if we don’t finish this today, we have until noon on Friday) + Basecamp details.
  • Client call at [Time]: To discuss a new project [insert call in details] Please join the Zoom (or other platform) call 5 minutes early.
  • Repeat for as many tasks that are needed that day

Managing Time for Myself

After I send out my “priorities” emails, I write down a list for myself. I prefer to write this down with pen and paper (old school!) so I can keep that in front of me while I work and get the satisfaction of physically checking items off the list. Rick does that as well, but only because all designers think they look cool if they have a Moleskine book with them at all times.

I also like to block my time for each task in my Google Calendar. That way I know when to book meetings around those tasks (if possible) to ensure I get everything accomplished that I planned. Here’s an example of my list from this morning and my calendar:

TimeTask
8:30 – 9:00 amSend out priorities email(s)
9:00 – 10:30 amWrite next blog post
10:30 amBreak
11:00 – 12:30 pmQA email design and copy
12:30 pmLunch
1:15 – 2:30 pmPrepare for 1:30 client call, includes call time
2:30 – 3:30 pmAnother client call
3:30 pmBreak
4:00 – 5:00 pmReview that has been completed today and send over to client(s)
5:45 – 6:15 pmFitness Zoom class with Relentless MMA (I like to schedule my workouts too, so I feel more accountable!)

As you get into a routine, creating the priorities and to-do lists becomes second nature. I find that spending half an hour before my work day starts (with a coffee or tea, of course) really sets the day up for success and focus!

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