How Our Designers Stay Productive: Freelance and Agency Based

We've got a range of freelancers that each have a particular way of working from writing notes on a pad to vocal commands through Siri to remind them later that day. We've compiled a few of the top tips from questions asked to hopefully help anyone else that struggle in these areas.


Straight in, All time Favourite Productivity Tip

Lists, but not on paper as you loose them easily! Write a to do every morning of what you want to get done whether it's on Evernote or your mobile phone. The satisfaction of physically ticking things off and seeing them disintegrate into a million pieces or wooshing away steps up the motivation to do more and gives you little mini wins where you mentally punch the air in happiness. These little wins make for a happier work life, I'll often create a to do for pointless things that know i can get done easily like open all my tabs, to tick off something simple like this kickstarts the day and makes it all seem everything will be ok.


What tools/websites do you use daily to help stay productive

I’m lazy and happy to say, it’s made life a lot easier by finding simpler and quicker ways to do things, we have everything automated using IFTTT & Zapier when we want to send posts or blogs out, not to mention thanking new visitors and followers, this is very important, you’re never too big to not thank your followers or engage with people that take their time to link or hit you up, if they’ve given time out to come and appreciate your efforts then you need to give that time back. 

We use KuKu for scheduling posts and blogs to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram which is backed up for the next 3 months, this makes it nicer when adding off the fly tweets on the go. It’s definitely worth spending a couple of hours on a down day with a beer just scheduling posts for the next couple of months. Hotjar is another website we use to monitor the traffic, we can add simple polls to gain insight or check a heat map and watch through videos of real users using the website, we’ve done a couple 24hour long polls which have given us valuable information to improve the UX of a website.

Producthunt, although is a little lower down in the list, is by no means the one you need to disregard. The majority of the tips and hints you might see in this post came from ProductHunt. It's the home of your new favourite thing, you can search or view collections from other users and see exactly what they're using. I'll often pay this site a visit in the morning to have a gander on the latest tech or see if someone's finally created a Chrome Extension that orders my favourite pizza for lunch.

I'm a massive fan of Chrome Extensions, as i type i have a Pinterest, FontNinja, KuKu, Grammarly, Muzli, Buffer and EmailFinder and this isn't my personal desktop. Out of that list FontNinja and Grammarly are my personal favourites, FontNinja is super simple, if you come across as website with an awesome font and not sure what it is, click FontNinja and hover over said font to check the exact name, size, leading, weight is, This extension can cut time and show you similar fonts if the one you want is too pricey. Grammarly is a lifeline. I'm not one with words so this extension comes in handy when i decide to make up words to make myself seem biggera than i really am ( i know what i did there) Not only will it correct words you've made up but it can also help with your grammar which is pretty important when copyrighting or emailing clients. 

If you're mad on extensions like me then you can keep up to date with the latest extensions from Extensions.af Similar to ProductHunt Extensions.af showcases the latest, featured and top extensions to help you out.

Something else i do is set my desktop wallpaper to change every 24 hours, this may be a personal thing but i think it's quite refreshing for the brain to see something new every day. It keeps your mind on edge and ready to go, this is similar to a research Harvard worked on years ago that states driving or walking to work a different way every other day is good for the mind as you're not falling into a routine and keeping your brain ready. Something so simple can have a surprising effect to help towards productivity.


You're a designer. When it comes to financials do you outsource?

Exactly, I'm a designer and I get paid to do what I do best, make things look pretty. I've tried working on my own invoices, keeping track of expenses, outgoings from the numerous monthly domains/sites/hosting/magazine subscriptions and more but I got tired of it really quickly. I wanted to use online software but along with other monthly commitments, I felt I could deal with the pain. This was until I had to do my yearly books and almost cried. I spent twice as long going through old invoices not wanting to forget anything and making myself sick doing something that

I have no interest in and not qualified to do. I now use accounting software QuickBooks that keeps everything in place, wherever I am in the world I can access exactly what I need and send automated invoices. All of this for a pretty decent price that pays for itself within days. To easily see on their dashboard exactly how I'm doing is a godsend, especially for someone who deals with nice design and usability I can see straight away where I'm at, cutting time and stress from my life so I can concentrate on the things I'm paid to do.


Have you got any advice on to how others can stay productive?

Checkout a site called FreeStack and their productivity Collection! FreeStack is a website that makes it super easy for the young designers to find tools and resources to help save them time and money.

Get a plan in order and automate as much as possible. Time and exposure is a lot more important than money, save time using automated services like Zapier or IFTTT to better manage your time more efficiently to work on more pressing aspects.