Those who work in the creative industry like to stay busy. In fact, most of us start to feel guilty when too much time is spent away from our small business. But more work often leads to added stress and anxiety.

All of which can affect the quality of your final product and brand reputation.

Whether you’re a contract graphic designer or senior designer at a marketing agency, you might find it difficult to meet deadlines and stay motivated throughout the work day. You’re not alone. And it’s okay to admit that you need a reset to get your head back in the game.

In this article, we’ll provide a few helpful tips on how to refocus and reset expectations, so you can start producing quality work and hitting your creative deadlines.

In the old days, they used to refer to this process as “work/life” balance. Guess what. It’s still possible and definitely something we ALL need to aim for.

Tips for How to Improve Meeting a Deadline

Here are three simple guidelines to try the next time you’re feeling the pressure of a time crunch.

1. Set Realistic Goals

Having realistic goals is the only way to stay ahead of impending deadlines. But What’s the simplest way to do this?

We recommend writing down everything you need to accomplish on paper—always listing the most time-sensitive items at the very top.

Once you see your list, you’ll be able to organize your “to-dos” in a more manageable way.

For example, you’ll quickly realize that some items can’t be completed in one day. That means you’ll need to break up your schedule to meet demands and provide quality designs.

Here’s a few pro tips for meeting a deadline:

Start setting earlier deadlines for completing different phases of a single project. Let’s say, for instance, you’re working on a logo design.

It’s fair to assume that once you create a logo concept, you’ll need to send it over to the client for review. Pending any revisions, you’ll have to update your design accordingly and send in a final submission for approval.

Now, let’s say the client is taking a bit longer than expected with feedback. After all, he or she is running a business, too.

If you’re waiting on revisions for one project, you’ll want to start work on a different one. That means while you’re scheduling due dates for different phases of a project, decide how you can utilize the time in-between for other design work.

This way you’re always working ahead. Also, it gives you a creative break from one client so that when it’s time to come back to a project, you’ll have a fresh pair of eyes and perspective to make it that much better!

Finally, be sure to put these dates on your calendar. This way you have helpful reminders for when it’s time to start/end work on a particular project.

2. Plan Rewards

As Dale Cooper of “Twin Peaks” told Sheriff Truman, there’s a little secret to life: “Everyday,  once a day, give yourself a present."

Okay, maybe ”everyday” is a bit obsessive. I mean you are getting paid to do the work. But if your goal is to meet a tight deadline, or you’re juggling more than one design project at a time, we suggest you plan a reward for when you finally reach the finish line.

Maybe you can plan to visit your favorite brewery or order-in from a local restaurant. Or, you might plan a half-day after your projects are completed and spend that time at the lake for some hiking with friends.

No matter what type of reward gets you moving, what’s important is that a present is waiting for you at the end of a productive day or week. It’s something to look forward to, and it’s well-earned if you manage to follow through on your proposed timeline.

3. Give Yourself a Break

Think of this little piece of advice in two ways:

  • Plan breaks in-between your workday to allow yourself some fresh air and leg work (e.g., go on your balcony/patio, take your dog for a walk, open a window, stretch, etc.)
  • Admit to yourself that this is hard work!

Running a small business isn’t for chumps. It takes dedication, perseverance, faith, humility, and a lot of caffeine.

If you’re able to give yourself credit and realize you’re doing what most people wouldn’t even try to attempt—even on a good day—you’ll stop stressing so much and start getting back to work.

Need Help Meeting Graphic Design Deadlines?

Remember, we’re only human. So, if you find that your company or agency is getting weighed down with graphic design work, our team can lend a hand.