Effective Time Management – The Holy Grail for Web Designers

Categories Web Design

This is a guest post by Adam Fitzgerald – CEO of Perth-based The Frontier Group, an Agile web development company. He is also committee member of the Australian Web Industry Association (AWIA) and was listed in Anthill’s Top 10 Emerging Digital Doyens.

As a web designer or developer, managing your time can be one of the hardest and most frustrating tasks to stay on top of. Dealing with client demands and also the constant struggle for a work/life balance is so prevalent, you will find books and articles on the subject everywhere you look.

As the CEO of a mid-size Ruby on Rails development company, here’s some insights into how I manage to stay on top of my responsibilities.

Saying no

Sometimes the hardest thing to do in business is say no, whether it’s simply not taking on that extra client right now, or pushing back against yet another pre-launch change. Saying no is one of the first steps to managing your time well.

Planning your day

It’s best not to structure your entire day before you get to it. I like to plan half a day’s worth of tasks in the knowledge that emails, phone calls, and other unforeseen events will surely occur. Having a full day planned will only end in feeling like you haven’t accomplished what you set out to achieve. This problem will also be compounded through the week, leaving you to work nights and weekends to feel accomplished.

Inbox Zero

Your inbox is one of the hardest things to manage well. I’m a big fan of the Inbox Zero principle. For the uninitiated, this is a set of guidelines to maintain an empty and actionable inbox at all times. You can find out more at the 43 Folders Series.

Management tools

Three management tools we use at The Frontier Group are Teuxdeux, Flow and Basecamp. Teuxdeux is a great way to manage day to day tasks. Flow and Basecamp are great collaboration tools to keep your projects on track and your clients notified.

Start applying one or more of these areas to your workflow today and you’ll immediately see a difference in your week!

header picture by CubaGallery

Adam is the CEO at Perth-based <a title="The Frontier Group" href="http://thefrontiergroup.com.au">The Frontier Group</a>, an Agile web development company. He is also committee member of the <a title="Australian Web Industry Association" href="http://webindustry.asn.au">Australian Web Industry Association</a> (AWIA) and was listed in Anthill's <a href="http://anthillonline.com/top-10-emerging-digital-doyens-from-30under30-2010/">Top 10 Emerging Digital Doyens</a>.
  • Remka

    ApolloHQ als a great management tool + it’s free ;)

  • K

    What an informative and well written article with some little gems for staying on task and feeling accomplished (and sane)!

    I think, also, these can also transcend web development and design and be applied to most industries.

    Thanks for the tips!

  • As a graphic designer who runs a smaller boutique business I use something stunningly simple, cheap and 100% effective in time management.

    A white board.

    Yes the humble whiteboard has done wonders for my staffs time management and productivity. I blogged about some other options including this one on my design blog “3 Smart Steps That Will Improve Your Productivity & Increase Your Profitability” http://bit.ly/h9LhHz

  • Thanks Adam.

    I am a sole proprietor in my web design and development business so am always on the lookout for tools that improve my productivity.

    Last year I spent way too much time looking for a time management tool! In the end I found http://letsfreckle.com and this has helped me track my time, improve my billable hours and invoicing now takes me hours rather than days to do.

    I’m now checking the links you provided as I’m looking for a tool to help me track multiple concurrent projects to avoid over committing myself.

    Neil.

  • I have to agree with planning out your days too much. We tend to analyze much of our actions, in this accord many things are unable to be completed. I have seen many tasks rise and fall over time but most notably I have to say time management places at #1.

  • My time management skills is really something I need to work on professionally and personally, procrastination always get the better of me. You’ve made some really valid points, especially something as trivial as saying “NO”.

  • Time management is definitely something all designers struggle with and I am no exception. I personally use Wunderlist, its easy to use and free. You can also syncronise it on more than one computer so everyone on the team knows the tasks to be completed and when.

    Some great tips given in this article, thanks for sharing.

  • Time management is very important especially if you a bust designer. I like to use a desk top planner.

  • I agree that time management is very important for a website designer or developer, but selecting the best tool for this purpose is the big deal.