Work better not harder – Ten tips to improve your design workflow

By Annmarie Millar 3 years ago

As a graphic designer, time is one of your most valuable assets, we all have impending deadlines looming. So make sure you’re working in the best possible way, work better not harder get a killer workflow with these awesome tips.

1. Evaluate your design process – is it working for you?

a. Essentially a workflow is how you get from A to B– it’s simply the design process, there may be several ways to get to where you’re going but it all about knowing the best way to go – the most productive route.


b. So it’s important you evaluate your workflow regularly – varying on what you’re working on, allow for flexibility and for it to adapt. A killer workflow will speed up the design process and make it more fun and fulfilling, work better and smarter, not harder.

c. Leave more time for a good healthy work life balance.


2. Remember, pen and paper are your friends!

a. Think on paper before jumping straight on the computer this allows for trial and error much quickly – pen (or pencil) and paper are valuable tools too – don’t ignore these fabulous friends.

b. Use them and your ideas will prove to be more authentic and well thought out.


3. Unleash your inner design geek!

a. Be a design geek– stay hungry to learn, books are brain food, feed your best asset!

b. Get more from the creative software by learning more tips and tricks to sharpen your digital design skills.

c. A great designer is always learning, evolving and improving.

d. Bookmark and use the web, it has lots of great resources and tutorials – these will help you work smarter and faster.

e. Pinterest – this is a great designer tool, to create moodboards and design inspiration – which you can later refer back to.


4. Learn creative software shortcut keys.

a. Learning keyboard shortcut keys – or even creating your own – use a few clicks rather than a load of mouse maneuvering and scrolling, cutting down precious time – get learning!

b. Work faster and be more productive with this awesome Adobe CC Cheat Sheet from


5. Love your workspace – create the right environment.

a. Your workplace is incredibly important for your creativity – make it comfortable and inspiring.

b. Give everything a home so everything can be found quickly, keeping everyday essentials within arms reach.

c. Declutter from time to time – get rid of anything that’s not used or needed any longer to keep your workspace neat and tidy.


6. Keep a well organised desktop – get rid of digital junk.

a. Get your desktop in order and make sure it’s clear of digital junk –a cluttered desktop is not only a headache, but it also takes up space.

b. Delete anything you don’t need anymore – and (or) any duplicate files.

c. Don’t keep endless revisions that you don’t need!


7. Create a folder system for all projects.

Create a logical folder system to keep all project files and documents together and in order. Establish logically named and dated files these are beneficial to you and anyone else sharing them – keep it simple.

8. Keep all creative files well structured – don’t be lazy!

a. Don’t be lazy, well-constructed creative files are essential, and especially if you are sharing these will other creative’s – it’s good designer etiquette to provide artwork files that are easy to navigate and understand. The last thing you want is to get a bad rep you’re your colleagues.

b. Make sure all your layers are named simply and clearly – if you’re like me, colour coded too.

c. Again as before establish good naming conventions for all your creative files like ‘Name (Client / Project)_Date_Type (Wed, Print, Email)_Size (300×400, A3) _Version (Proof, revision, final).’ This will save so much heartache when you go back to look for things.

9. Build a library of useful design assets.

a. Keep all your digital assets such as vectors, etc. clearly marked in well-organised folders.

b. Again, use proper naming conventions, as these will come in handy for future projects – well if you can find them easily.

c. Store a list of your resources and bookmark links to these useful webpages.


10. Communicate better – Keep on top of your inbox!

a. Stay on top of your emails – be ruthless, delete, don’t allow your inbox to get clogged up. It can be hard when you’re being bombarded daily but deal with them then and there.  

b. Remember this too when communicating with others – don’t send an email if you can get more from a telephone call – or a chat face to face.


c. Good communication is so important and what you can wrap up in one conversation, could take numerous emails and waste time, waiting for replies, don’t be afraid spark up a dialogue.

d. Avoid letting emails distract your productivity, by set up regular intervals for checking emails – rather than all the time.

e. Use folders for saved emails then you’ll find them again quickly and have all relevant emails in the one place.

f. Regularly unsubscribe to anything you’re no longer interested in and delete any spam!


It’s no great secret, just remember organisation and communication are key, keep it simple well organised and you will work better and smarter – and save stress and time!