5 answers

As a graphic designer, how do you deal with deadlines when under pressure?

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5 answers

Lori’s Answer

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Hi Ana and entire community: While I am not a graphic designer, I have worked with so many in my career in advertising and marketing as an account/marketing director. I know how difficult it can be to manage deadlines in a creative process - and it definitely takes good collaboration. Be sure to discuss set timelines/deadlines right up front on any project, and ask for more time at certain stages if you know you will need them. this is critical to set yourself up for success if you have the opportunity to do it. Keep in close contact with your project partners, clients, etc. during the process - ask questions early, share drafts to make sure you are progressing down the right path. A few more suggestions specific to managing those deadlines under pressure:

Lori recommends the following next steps:

  • Don't think about the deadline constantly! You know it's there, but what matters is doing your best work.
  • Dedicate time and space - no other distractions when you need laser-focus to complete something. Create an environment where you won't be disturbed and are comfortable.
  • Remember that you are (likely) designing an end product for someone else. Keep their vision/direction in mind and product what you believe they want first; if you have extra time and want to share some options of your own, do that only once you've finished the core deliverable.
  • take a break! even a 10 minute walk around the block or set of stretches helps you re-set - and is not going to throw you off deadline.
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Julia’s Answer

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I think this depends heavily on your personality and how you deal with pressure, but here's how I deal with pressure


1. I know what's coming
That means even though you didn't choose a career in project management you have to be organized. Do what you need to in order to know what's going on, whether it's adding due to dates your calendar, printing out project timelines, setting reminder etc

2. Communicate / Take active part in agreeing to project load and deadlines
Estimate timelines and ensure things get pushed out if milestone slip. If you can't make a date you promised, tell your project manager asap with a new estimate. Tell your Pm what you need in order to best do your job. Own up to it, if you need reminders etc Ask for help prioritizing if things pile up and you can't do it all in the desired time frame

3. Make sure I am aligned with what we're doing, why, for whom, what the goals are.
Go to the meetings and participate. Ask your questions, give feedback. If you haven't looked at anything until the day you are opening your program to start designing it's never good.

4. Show progress, discuss options and questions
Buddy up with your strategist, researcher, UXer, Creative Director, anyone! Show them what you are doing. Get feedback and inspiration.
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Betsey’s Answer

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As a product manager who works heavily with design, I always try to ensure our designer isn't over-working as there are often times emails and messaged exchanged late in the evenings or on weekends. I realize it's a very time consuming job and try to set up routine check in's to make sure all of the work being done is necessary, and on track to reduce unnecessary hours spent in Sketch. I would advise designers to routinely check with product/other throughout the design process to make sure there won't be a handful of iterations needed shortly before the deadline.
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Pamela’s Answer

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1. Making lists.
At my day job, we have an internal system that lists all projects, so we can always see what is assigned to us and when it is due. Before we had this system, I used to make a to-do list in my notebook every day first thing in the morning so I knew what HAD to get done that day. Once that list was completed, I knew I could then go onto future projects and try to get a bit ahead of things. A planner could also help with this if you are not keeping track of projects digitally.

2. Keeping communication open.
If you feel overwhelmed, being honest with your boss/the project stakeholder is always a good first step. Sometimes deadlines are not hard and fast, and can be pushed out if you are feeling overwhelmed!

3. Figure out how you like to prioritize work.
For me, I like to tackle smaller projects and get them off my plate, so that I can sit down and focus on a larger project. It makes me feel like I don't have to stress about immediately checking my email because my to-do list is now much lower, and now I can spend more time zoned into this more intensive project. However, I know people who like to tackled big tasks first, and then do the smaller ones. So it totally depends on you and may be something you have to try a few ways before you find what works best for you!
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Vineeth’s Answer

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Deadlines may seem the bane of all creative endeavor, but without a schedule and an endpoint to aim for, it can be difficult to focus your abilities on the task in hand

• Use Your Deadlines
• Reduce Your Distractions
• Talk About It Constructively
• Give Yourself A Break
• Look for Inspiration
• Create A Prioritization Strategy
• Break Your Tasks Down
• Ask Yourself What Needs to Be Done Right Now
• Change How You Think About Pressure.
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