The importance of keeping design project deadlines is often overlooked, but they can be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful project. Unfortunately, when deadlines are not met it puts the designer in a precarious position.
Why are design project deadlines important?
Design projects require a lot of back and forth. Freelance Graphic Designers often work directly with business owners or Marketing teams and communication between departments is key to ensuring that a project runs smoothly. If you don't have deadlines in place, then it becomes difficult to tell when a project will be finished because designers can't prioritise tasks which means the entire process may be delayed. It is also important that the client understands their responsibility in ensuring that deadlines are met including ensuring the designer has received all necessary information, content, specifications and revisions so they can complete their artwork in good time.
Why it’s okay to miss one deadline
Although it’s important to meet your deadlines, it’s not the end of the world if you have to miss one. If your project is one of many, then a missed deadline won’t be as detrimental as a missed deadline for a high-priority project. It also depends on the scope of the project and how much time is left before your next deadline. Plus you never know if the goal posts so to speak will change halfway through a project, whether that's a change in artwork specification, offer or you may encounter issues with the quality of imagery supplied for example. Or simply the client may change their mind altogether. The most important thing a designer can do is to stay calm and tackle one project at a time in order of priority.
How to keep up with deadlines when you have more than one project
If you have more than one project, there are a few things you can do to make sure that deadlines are met. First, be organised by recording all of your tasks in a list. Next, set boundaries by limiting how many hours or days you spend working on them. You may also want to create separate deadlines for each task so that they are not all lumped together. Personally, I have a list in my inbox, a production board and written lists scattered about the place at all times. Everyone is different in how they manage their time, that is why it is important to find clients or designers who are compatible with the way you work because when you get it right - projects run smoothly and everyone enjoys their role in making it happen.
Ways to manage your time
One of the most important things in managing your time is making sure you are aware of when your deadlines are. You should always try to be one week ahead of schedule so that you have plenty of time in case something goes wrong. This way, if something does happen, you won't have to rush, which can lead to mistakes in your work. Another thing to do is make lists. This way, all your deadlines are always in front of you and it will be easier for you to keep track of them all.
When is it time for the designer to get involved?
The first step to creating a timeline is brainstorming. Brainstorming can be accomplished alone or with other team members. If you are working with a Marketing Team they are likely to already have a Marketing Plan in place with a pre-existing timeline of when things need to go live or be sent to print. Ideally, a design project will be briefed with plenty of notice before publication so that there is time for artwork creation, research and revisions but this is not always the case. Sometimes you've just got to grip your seat and enjoy the ride!
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