One of the important things I was missing as a freelance designer was the experience of consistent work. I was happy to be a barista slinging espresso for Stumptown and picking up freelance gigs. But, I noticed that I wasn’t really getting any better as a designer. Something was missing.
When I worked short freelance gigs, each client had wildly different needs and it was hard to gauge whether I was doing well. I was meeting each of them for the first time and the information gathering process was usually the most difficult. It wasn’t until I picked up a part-time job at Pottery Northwest that I learned to see design in a different way. In the eight-month time frame, my work became more focused, my passion grew, each new design related to a former one, efficiency increased, and I learned how to plan. I learned how to shift into the experience of workflow and routine deadlines which turns on different light bulbs in the designer brain.
Trello is a great organizing tool. I learned to make note of the ideas the director James would spit during our brainstorming sessions. If it was a serious idea or request then I put it on my list. I separated tasks into three sections: "not started", "in process", and "complete". Trello made a difference in communicating to my employer because I was able to reference when I started something and saved myself from brain freeze or recreating files unwittingly. When I was busy with regular tasks, I would get cloudy on whether I was moving forward on a new task or if it was just a dreamy ideas. I learned to leverage and prioritize!
Tyme is a great time-clock program. It helped keep track of when I was actually working and when I was not which helped me be more focused overall (the awesome feature is the clock stops when the laptop is closed down). The app activates a clock in the top bar of the screen and it helped to put a fire under me in terms of wasted time and to gauge how long it actually takes to do something. I learned to create templates for web banners under this pressure.
I eventually made the switch from slinging espresso part-time and part-time design to full-time at Imagine Crafts where I work as an in-house designer and social media manager. I do not attribute this change to luck. I attribute it to locking down consistent work and learning how to manage my workflow and time effectively. My confidence in my abilities grew exponentially and I was able to lock down some great portfolio pieces at the same time. The workflow tools are vital to my daily tasks. I open Trello every single day!