How to Stay Organized as a Product Designer
Whether you’re a newbie or someone already familiar with the world of product design, you already know that staying organized is a job half done.
Read on to discover handy tips on how to stay organized as a product designer who delivers great solutions without losing your most valuable resources – time and energy.
Keep schedules & deadlines in check
This one sounds quite obvious, but it is of the utmost importance to always stay on top of your deadlines.
Time is a crucial resource for both you and your clients.
When you prioritize tasks and create schedules, you’re ensuring your time isn’t wasted. That’s why you need to have your way of making your schedules and organized task lists.
Create a schedule and work to see how much time you need per task.
Try to complete the task within the pre-estimated period. In the beginning, you might see yourself taking more or less time than required, but with time, you’ll learn how to achieve perfect estimation. Always make your estimates a window with optimistic and pessimistic projections. For example, researching direct competitors might take you anywhere from 8 to 20 hours. In an ideal world, you’d spend anywhere from 8 to 14 hours on this, but knowing that nothing is entirely predictable, you give yourself space for a couple of more hours if things end up on a pessimistic note.
You can create schedules as you prefer: use notebooks, paper planners, excel sheets, Google Calendar, or Notion to write down and organize your tasks.
If you’re comfortable with using post-its, then use them!
Remember that this is entirely individual, and you should use things that feel great instead of hardening the process.
Another great way to make the most out of your tasks is to take notes of completed and next steps. By tracking your previous and next steps, you won’t lose sight of what you need to complete.
Moreover, you’ll stay in control and ensure maximum productivity instead of wasting time doing tasks that might not be as important.
Keeping your schedule in check is one of the best ways to become and stay organized.
Keep your workplace clean
Another simple but highly effective way how to stay organized as a product designer is to keep your surroundings clean.
Declutter your desk. Keep things that make you happy or inspired, such as small plants, photos, or design books, but remove anything that might occupy your brain too much.
Whether you work from home or in an office, it is a great idea to clean your desk before ending the day. Remove cups and trash, tidy the place a bit, and give the “tomorrow you” a clean start. 🙂
Organize your computer desktop and its files.
A swamped desktop could only drive you crazy. Delete irrelevant files or create a dedicated folder for such things. Keep your bin empty.
Develop a systematic way of creating folders and naming them.
You can also create a desktop template that helps you sort your folders.
Product designers are highly creative, and their minds can easily get distracted. By diminishing these visual distractions, you’ll help yourself maintain a laser focus on your tasks.
Keeping it clean isn’t reserved solely for your desk and desktops.
You should also pay attention to naming your elements, groups, and frames/artboards. Keep your Figma, Sketch, or Adobe XD files as tidy as possible to ensure a primary level of organization when things get hectic.
Have a separate folder for each project. If you work with a team, develop a unified naming structure. For example, use lowercase for higher readability and upper case for acronyms only.
Clean your desk and keep it clutter-free.
Create a designated procedure for emails, forms, or invoices
Sometimes you can get caught up in sending emails back-and-forth and then filling out different paperwork. If you work as a freelance product designer, you also might have invoices to create and deliver to your clients.
To make sure your hours won’t pass by while doing these tedious but essential tasks, help yourself with templates. Creating templates for basic emails and invoices is a fantastic way how to stay organized as a product designer.
Another great way to resolve administrative duties is to dedicate a specific time to only such matters.
For example, if you work as a freelance product designer, you can break the pattern of your week by having Wednesday as your Invoice Day. Use this day to resolve all (or at least the most) of these administrative tasks.
If you are a hired member of a product design team, you can try sending emails when you arrive at your desk while enjoying your first sips of coffee. That way, you’ll get this out off of your plate before committing to your design tasks.
One of the best ways how to stay organized as a product designer is to find tools that will maximize your productivity.
Find tools that work for you
Make sure every tool you use serves you to the fullest.
For daily tasks, use Notion or Asana for your daily tasks. Both of these are very easy to use and have various templates you can use in the beginning while getting used to the tool. With these tools, you can create groups and sub-groups to keep your tasks in place and look organized.
Add links or screenshots, notes, or customize photos or emojis.
That way, if you need to come back to something, you’ll know where to find it within seconds.
Find time management tools that work for you.
If you’re not comfortable using any advanced and paid time-management tools, you can resort to free ones. Clockify is a great free tool that helps you keep track of your tasks within a calendar, and you can also see detailed reports.
You can time-specific projects and tasks within that project.
You’ll have a clear insight into how much time was spent and work with these statistics to see what needs to be stretched or cut.
If this sounds too time-consuming, that’s fine. You can use the timer on your phone if that’s what works for you!
Selecting a proper channel for successful internal communication is another way how to stay organized as a product designer.
Our suggestion is Slack. Slack is an excellent tool for written communication outside of emails. You can create channels for different topics, contact someone directly, or connect apps like Google Drive.
Replying in threads allows you to have categorized conversations; when you need to find something, you’ll find it quicker in threads instead of mindless scrolling through the whole chat.
Invest in digital storage
There is one rule concerning digital storage in product design: more is more. These valuable files you work on can get quite hefty, and you cannot risk losing them. At best times, this could set you back for a couple of hours (if not days), and at worst, you might even lose a client.
Investing in ample digital storage is a great way to help you stay organized as a product designer. Another reason for having plenty of digital storage is accessibility.
You can share your files more easily with your teammates and clients, individually or with a group. There are numerous different options for digital storage, so choose the one you know best. Sometimes, it’s also good to keep files on an external hard drive. Even though today it’s almost impossible to lose files from your digital storage, if that’s what brings you additional peace, then you should go for it.
These are our top ways how to stay organized as a product designer!
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We wish you a happy and organized product designer career!