Project management is an incredibly valuable skill set, and companies spend millions of dollars every year to train, retain, and hire quality project managers. Although this type of job is incredibly involved, the basics of project management are relatively easy to summarize. Below we’ve captured five tips and tricks for creatives and designers to meet project goals.
- Staying on Track
Creatives and designers rely on inspiration, which can be somewhat unpredictable and chaotic at times. Ensuring that your approach to work is structured will help channel those creative juices in a positive manner.
Sorting through the chaos of creation can be a daunting task; this process can be simplified by using a task management or perhaps a project management software such as nTask. Online tools help designers and creatives keep track of their ideas so they can be captured, stored, and developed as necessary. The worst thing that can happen to a creative process is to lose track of an excellent idea.
2. Clarify Expectations in Advance
Designers spend a lot of time revising their work because of miscommunication, misunderstanding, and changing expectations as the project evolves.
Many revisions are unnecessary because the deliverables were not clearly communicated and documented upfront. A common cause of this is the project manager making assumptions about the client’s requirements and failing to follow up by explicitly asking simple questions.
Benjamin Franklin once said “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Spending time at the beginning of the project to ensure everyone is on the same page will save significant time and cost down the line.
Keeping track of all communication and documentation is vital so you can meet project deliverables with minimal revision. Quality documentation ensures that all the requirements are stated comprehensively and met.
3. Quantifying Time Spent on Brainstorming
“The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.” — Linus Pauling
Brainstorming depends on inspiration, and this isn’t something that can always be controlled; in fact, a study in 2014 showed that 72% of people have creative insights while taking a shower. While controlling inspiration isn’t possible, structuring your approach to facilitate it is.
One time-proven best practice is to schedule brainstorming sessions with your team, or if the project team is only you, scheduling time for yourself to do this without any other distractions.
It is important to take time to brainstorm as many ideas as possible at the beginning of a project; during this stage, remember that no idea is a bad idea: the goal is to open your team’s minds to all of the possibilities — good, bad, and ugly.
After as many ideas as possible are captured, you can begin whittling them down to the solid prospects.
4. Being Organized
Designers need a clear mind to align the project goals with their creative thought processes, and this means finding an organizational system that works for you. If you’re constantly faced with distractions, spending time to identify and find solutions for those is a direct investment in all of the work you’ll do down the line.
Start with your physical space: does it meet your needs? Is it comfortable? Do you have everything you need to complete the job without distractions?
Follow that up with your mental space: do you have processes in place to capture ideas about other projects as you work? Is your calendar dependable?
Finally, ensure that you have solid habits in place that directly relate to the project. You need to be able to capture the client’s ideas, track your progress, and ensure that milestones and billing are accurately recorded. Investing time to create structure will make every other aspect of your project more efficient.
5. Work with a Team
Creative work is often solitary, but feedback is an effective tool for improving your work and push your artistic boundaries. Constantly focusing on your own work can be isolating and demotivating.
A social psychology study conducted in 1920 showed that people working on individual tasks at the same table performed better. This means when you work as a part of the team you have a greater level of motivation in accomplishing your work, even if those tasks are highly individualized.
Making sure that your team is on the same page and that individual tasks are being tracked is very important. There are multiple online project management software tools, such as Trello, which are specifically designed with these goals in mind.
How are you keeping up with your project goals as a creative/designer? Let us know in the comments below.