Getting things done – improve your productivity as a web designer

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I recently finished reading “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. It got me thinking that there must be a way I can use what I learnt in the book to improve my productivity as a web designer, therefore I have decided to dedicate this week to Getting Things Done, today I will look at different ways improve your productivity, and on Wednesday I will focus on different applications you can use to make your life easier.

Often as a web designer you are working on multiple projects at the same time, while juggling all sorts of other tasks at the same time. If you have never heard about Getting Things Done, then it is defined as:

“Getting Things Done (GTD) is the proven path for getting in control of your world, and maintaining perspective in your life. Much more than a set of tips for time management and organization, GTD is a total work-life management system that transforms overwhelm into an integrated system of stress-free productivity. David Allen, inventor of the GTD methodology, is widely recognized as the world’s leading expert on personal and organizational productivity.”

Create a list of things you need to do

The first step to getting things done, is to figure out exactly what it is that you need to get done, without having an idea of what you need to get out of your way, how are you supposed to know if you are working in the right direction. Right now, don’t worry about setting deadlines for finishing your tasks, this is just a way of getting everything down on paper.

Clean out your mailbox

On a daily basis I get approximately 50-100 emails on a daily basis, while most of them are junk, I do need to sift through each of them to see whether or not I need to take them serious. Too often I will just mark emails as read, which led to my inbox growing to an astounding 42,000 emails. The crazy thing is that deleting more than 20,000 emails took less than 2 hours, because many of them come from the same sources. So my suggestion is take some time off and clean out your mailbox, chances are you will be surprised by just how much junk you have in there.

Organize your files

You would be surprised how many different places I have files saved, I work on 2 separate Macs and have files on both of them, as well as in my Dropbox and Amazon Cloud. Before starting GTD, my files were a mess, however now I spend at least 10 minutes every day to organize my files into client folders. Trust me it is so much easier to find things if you have them in the right folders.

Set small deadlines

I often start a project by setting the final deadline, like finish website by ….(Day in the future). However this often causes me to push some projects with distant deadlines, however since reading this book, I have started setting smaller deadlines such as:

  1. Set up website on server
  2. Install applications needed for website
  3. Create an outline of website
  4. Start building website
  5. Send client an update with the look of the website
  6. Finish website
  7. Complete a QA of the website
  8. Launch website

Of course these are just suggestions, there are many other steps for building a website, but you get the idea of what I mean with setting up smaller goals. It is much easier to stay on track if you are making sure you are meeting all the smaller deadlines.

What about you?

I would like to hear from you, how do you get things done, do you have any suggestions for staying on top of a busy schedule? Make sure to check back on Wednesday, when I look at some of the programs that you can use to Get Things Done.

Feature image curtsey of  Vic Bell

Marie currently lives in New York City, but travels a lot to Europe. She has a Masters degree in International Business Management, but her passion is anything related to web design. If you would like to connect with her you can follow her on Twitter.