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The web is a super highway of information! With the phenomenal growth of the network, and the advancement of technologies, the growing number of netizens are left with a bombardment of choices online, be it spending time on their favorite social networking site, browsing through the ocean of links, or be it just idling around, between tweets born every milliseconds.
As design professionals, the most vital resource that we all have to manage well is just one single thing – TIME! Yes, time forms the basic unit of all our efforts and the productivity and the efficiency of a design professional is directly proportional to the time he spends on useful and productive things. Nowadays, with plenty of distractions available online, it has become really hard to get some quality time to be productive. With your FB page and a Twitter client opened in a browser tab, and mail coming every now and then to your inbox, it’s a challenge to get work done. Now is the time to keep all those distractions at bay and find out what part of the day you’re the most productive and capitalize on those times to get work done.
The best and successful are the ones who have learned the skill of mastering their available time and managing it to bring out some ultra productive hours at the end of the day, everyday. Here are some tips and ideas to keep those precious hours from being wasted.
We are in the age of Facebook and Twitter, and we have just witnessed a Hollywood movie being built around the concept of social networking. With this tumor like growth that keeps on consuming our precious and leisure time alike, it is now time to give serious thought on keeping a tab on the quality time spent poking friends or re-tweeting those contest tweets to your friends.
Here are some tools, which can help you to keep tab on your social networking procrastination and worries:
Reading and being updated about new trends and topics are vital for a designer’s survival. But with hundreds of articles born every minute, and plagiarism being wide-spread, it’s not a good idea to spend too much time reading articles, especially when you are on the lookout for something that is really vital to complete your latest project. A good title can suck us into an article and we may lose focus and get immersed into it at a time when you wanted to give your 100% into some other important work.
This has been worrying me for sometime, and I have found some solutions for this.
Use Feed readers: Organize the best blogs / sites that you think generate the best content consistently, into a feed reader, and organize them into logically sensible sections (I organize feeds under the captions: Usability, Front-end engineering, Visual design, Trends and News, Wireframing and UX, Personal, Official etc…). Here are some feed readers I feel would be useful and handy. If you are using a mobile device and are constantly on the move, look for readers which can sync the web-based bookmarks to their mobile app list.
Also make sure you organize the feeds well, or else it will be pain to dig out those latest posts which you wanted to read yesterday, but didn’t get time to
Schedule time reserved for reading: Often in your ultra busy days, you may miss out on the latest news and trends, with no time to spend on reading and updating yourself. Or, you may end up losing your focus digging deep into links on an article and feel like you are heading nowhere. Scheduling a reserved time for reading and updating is a probable solution for this problem. Stick to the time and make sure you don’t diverge to those articles amidst work, unless it’s really necessary.
Schedule for later reading: Often you may stumble upon interesting links and articles, and may feel bad for not being able to read it due to a time crunch, or out of the fear that you may be diverting from the current activity. Such scenarios should be tackled by scheduling those items for later reading. One technique I use, is to bookmark those links in my delicious account under a tag “toread”, and later on when I get time, I can easily retrieve them and delete the tag upon completion :). Apart from that, there are some reminder services, that send you emails reminding you about those ‘unread’ articles, at intervals you determine. Tookmark.com, is one such service.
With the burgeoning rate in which new pieces of information are made available to the netizens, it’s literally impossible to retrieve the best match for the information that you are searching for, without a bookmarking service. And even more, it’ll be far more complex to dig up that link you bookmarked months ago, if you are not organizing those bookmarks well! Organizing a bookmark is as equally important as maintaining a bookmark list.
Following are some leading bookmark services
Alltop.com is a service which has some predefined set of lists for various topics. You may try it too, as a comprehensive resource.
Tips to organize your bookmarks I am a fan of delicious and have a pretty well-organized repository of links, and have been using this awesome service for more than 5 years (delicious.com/mysticpixels). Over the years, my tags and bundles have undergone numerous rounds of organizing exercises, and my strategy of organizing the bookmarks are taking a complete shape with time. Here are some tips I would like to share, to help you organize your bookmarks, based on my delicious experience.
Over time, you would have come across some common elements / resources that you use every time in the beginning of a new project. E.g. CSS reset, Markup for a carousel, CSS code for a sliding door button, your favorite Photoshop brushes to create that trademark effect of yours, and much more. It’ll be an invaluable asset, if you can start building on those reusable snippets of code / resources that help you to give that nitro booster, to cruise through a new design project.
Some practical examples are:
Be a tech savvy designer! With the marathon list of add-ons and tools available, saving our precious time is just a right decision away. Decide on the best tool available, by understanding your limitation, and try to capitalize on the area where you need to save more time on.
And much more from my delicious account under the tag – “tools”. Isn’t it a short and sweet tag?
Every work day, for most of us, starts with checking new emails. It’s very important to have control over your inbox, as having too many unread mails and a disorganized inbox can take too much of your time when you are in much need of digging out some mails.
Here are some tips to make your mailbox clean and organized
The same is the case with the folder structure too. Maintaining a highly organized folder structure and file naming convention can help you in the long run. Especially for designers who often work with a huge number of files, from clients, download, reference, and outputs, it is really important to organize them under logical folder structure, which makes things easier for retrieval.
I differentiate all the files at a very high-level first by putting them in to separate folders (e.g. Projects, Private, Resources, Others, Workplace etc). The ‘projects’ folder is the most important for me with all the work related files in it. So I spent some extra time in organizing it better. I generally have the following folders within each project folders
Folder naming is another challenge to overcome. Sticking to one consistent naming style is very important in organizing your files. It makes it possible to guess the path of a file, and doesn’t require you to spend too much of time in digging out something that you worked years before!
A whiteboard can be a close ally of a designer. It gives you a broader canvas to experiment on, and you get a sense of freedom to express your ideas. I rely on white boarding for brainstorming and the initial wireframing process. The fact that it’s erasable gives our mind the liberty to express raw ideas. Believe me, it can bring out some really crazy improvement in your design process.
So start using one now!
Working with a team means multiple versions of artifacts and collaboration. This makes it really important to have a central repository, where team members can access and update instances of artifacts into. Dropbox is the latest and best to date collaborative and file sharing tool. The way it works makes it the most used tool available for file sharing, and the highlight is its ability to sync between multiple devices, be in your Mac or your iPhone or any other mobile device like an iPad.
As designers, this is the first and foremost thing that keeps us ticking. Never run out of it! Getting inspired doesn’t really mean keeping glued to those CSS galleries and designs. Inspiration is a far wider topic and in fact, it comes from a wide variety of things than CSS galleries.
There are loads of other things too that you need to take care of, in order to be organized and ultra-productive. Lets have a healthy discussion going on and explore the options available.
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A User Experience designer with specialized experience in front-end engineering, i have over time developed a strong passion in being associated with product-based teams. The unified goal and challenges that a product's life cycle offers is simply unbeatable! For me, proficiency in tools takes the back seat when it comes to User Experience Design, and i believe one has to be passionate and equally agile to be a key part of the team. I bring to the table the diverse hands-on experience on various facets of experience design, and have played key roles in the team bridging the gap between design, dev and biz groups within product teams. My vision is to be the key hand behind the UX design of a world-class product in a team of passionate and uber-smart techies and designers! Specialties: Information Architecture, Wireframing, Heuristic Evaluation, Web standards, Interaction design, Semantic markup, OO CSS, Usability Review
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