There are times in life where everything goes well, people like your work and you get more and more clients. But sometimes the “business” stops, work flow decreases, you get bored and uninspired, and you stagnate. The reasons behind this can vary, but mostly it’s just because you’re feeling uninspired and have lost your drive. It’s very easy to lose inspiration, when we are not surrounded by a learning and inspirational community.
You know you love what you do, so don’t quit. In order to counteract the situation, you need to go further, learn new things, and adopt new work methods. You will find out that maybe you just need a push or build your own motivation and energy to go forward, or that maybe you are just afraid to step up.
So grab a pen and get ready for new resolutions.
1. A Tutorial a Day
Tutorials are the best way to improve your skills. Setting this goal for yourself ensures you don’t stagnate and keeps you motivated. Repeating this process every day or at least every week is half-way to success, and it’s also entertaining. If you like several areas, try to invest in a different area each day. 1stwebdesigner, PSDtuts or Photoshop Lady are great examples of free and high-quality tutorial resources. Ten years ago, web designers and developers didn’t have the possibilities you have now, and they still managed to evolve. Those people are now teaching you for free, while you remain in the comfort of your home.
2. Do What They Do
If you have favourite design layouts, icons, effects, etc, you should try to recreate them. Sometimes the best way to learn is finding out how others did it. If you can’t get there, ask for help. There are also plenty of great Photoshop to HTML tutorials out there, which can help you discover how some effects and functionalities are built. As soon as you recreate your favourite work pieces, you reach the same quality level as the author on that moment, and you are ready to the next level.
3. Redecorate Your Workspace
I don’t know about you, but for me redecorating my workspace is a plus for motivation, and helps my creativity. I’m not saying you need to buy new furniture, but move your desk or monitor to a different position, or stick a poster on your wall. The same old workspace layout and routine discourage your will, creativity, and motivation to work. Sometimes, you may realize that having two monitors side-by-side instead of having them apart, or having your desk near your books, will tremendously increase your work efficiency.
4. Read Books, Magazines, and Interviews
There are great books and magazines out there. I personally love magazines like Web Designer and Computer Arts, but you have so many more to choose from. They are inspiring and have plenty of good tutorials and articles. Books are another invaluable source of information, and although I don’t read books very often, they are truly another great addition to your shelf . Reading 15 pages a day is quick, gives you valuable insights, and at the end of the month you realize you have read an entire book. Do the same the next month. I also like to read interviews, I believe it’s a great way to learnnew things from the best in the field.
5. Build Relationships
Having an active online, and if possible offline presence is an important learning and motivational process. Try to be involved in conferences, events, workshops, etc. They are extremely useful to increase your list of contacts and ideas. Also try to talk with everyone and not only designers, since they are not your potential clients.
6. Grab a Moleskine
The first thing you need to do before you start any web design or development project, is to put your ideas on paper. You don’t actually need to use a Moleskine - I’m just a fan. But if you need some motivation to start organizing your ideas, grab a sketchbook and take it everywhere. It can really improve your brainstorming, organization and work process.
7. Read Design Blogs
Books and Magazines are not the only material you should read. Personally I believe blogs should be number one on your list. Reading daily articles gives you good insights, ideas, tutorials, inspiration, and much more, which helps your work tremendously. Do not forget to share your ideas by commenting on other people’s work, and write your questions every time you have them.
8. Plan Your Days
I’ve started to do this recently and I realized it increased my work performance tremendously. I personally love to use http://teuxdeux.com, but it doesn’t really matter which software you use or how you do it. The important thing is to keep your work and life organized. Start your weekend by planning your week, or at least try to plan on a daily basis.
9. Try New Software
One thing I always like to do is to read about new apps, web apps, and software, that can help me improve my work. Woopra is a hosted analytics service which I didn’t know anything about until I searched google for “Web Analytics Tools That Rivals Google”. A great tool doesn’t necessarily need to be immediately known.
Working as a freelancer can be very isolating, and the will and motivation to keep going is what makes the differences between the good and the great. Never forget about the one rule – Don’t stop.
Everyone has strengths, you just need to find yours.