14 Designers Share Their Best Productivity Tips

published Sep 11, 2018
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(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)

What is it about the beginning of fall that always brings out the back-to-school spirit in us?

It doesn’t matter how long it’s been since you graduated school, there’s something about September that makes us want to turn over a new leaf and be more productive. So, we get organized, set bigger goals for ourselves, and buy some super chic office supplies.

Of course, it’s important to make sure our new, hyper-organized, super-productive lifestyle lasts, which is where the design community comes in. From scheming up new collections to scaling their businesses, they’re pros at bolstering creativity, increasing productivity, and getting stuff done year-round.

Below, 14 design experts share their best tips for starting this fall on the right professional foot:

Don’t Procrastinate

(Image credit: Samara Vise)

“Do the hardest thing first. I like to wake up early, get an iced coffee—something I look forward to—and get the thing I’m most dreading off my plate before anyone else wakes up.” Arlyn Davich, brand president of Allswell Home

“I like to prepare a daily list [of things to do] before getting sidetracked. Having a game plan helps me prioritize.” —Sandra Espinet, interior designer

“The best way to stay productive is to work on a number of projects at once. The more things I have on my plate, the more ruthless I am about time management.” —Alessandra Wood, interior design expert and director of style at Modsy

Refine Your To-Do List to Your Liking

(Image credit: Diana Liang)

“I’m a big believer in keeping your to-do list to a tidy length. If it gets too long, it gets overwhelming and that’s when paralysis sets in. I like using small notebooks and pads (this is my current go-to) to force myself to focus my lists. If I run out of space, it’s time to split it into more than one list: short term vs. long term, personal vs. professional, etc. These handy little pads are also great for pacing out tasks over the course of a week.” —Claire Mazur, co-founder of Of a Kind

“For me, it’s all about the satisfaction of crossing things off a list that helps me get stuff done. I even write home chores like ‘unload dishwasher’ on a pad at home so I can gleefully strike through ’em!”—Erica Cerulo, co-founder of Of a Kind

“I like to keep things old school: Post-Its with my to-do lists are my best friend. But I find I’m more prone to keep them detailed and updated with the perfect pen. Either Pilot’s ultra fine point or any of Poketo’s extra fine point pens.” —Leonora Epstein, Senior Director of Hunker

Keep Up Correspondence

(Image credit: Kim Lucian)

“I have a phobia about not being able to see the bottom of my inbox, so I try to devote time to getting my email load to a manageable state before tackling the rest of the day.” —Elizabeth Brown, CEO of Viyet

Don’t Neglect Your Work Space

(Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)

“An office can be homey! Adding things in like sofas or lounge chairs, that you can move around to keep your mind fresh, helps keep you productive and also makes the space more inviting if you ever have colleagues over to collaborate.” —Orlando Soria, interior designer and brand ambassador for Lamps Plus

There’s an App for That

(Image credit: Lumina/Stocksy)

“I stay productive by using the program Asana. It lets you schedule and plan tasks, make checklists, [set] deadlines, and assign different tasks for different projects and team members.” —Nina Magon, founder and creative director of Contour Interior Design

“We use TSheets, which gives the team an opportunity to review their own productivity daily. Each week, there is a report review that [helps improve] workflow and team alignment. It has increased our productivity by 20 percent in the first month!” —Laura Muller, CEO, owner, and principal of Four Point Design Build

Turn Off

(Image credit: Minette Hand)

“Staying creative is difficult. You need to have mental space to stay creative. Get away, shut off the brain, and put your electronics away. Give yourself a clean table to work on and go on lock down!” —Caroline Grant and Dolores Suarez, co-founders of Dekar Design

“Make it a priority to give your mind space to wander in any and all directions—complete mental freedom, balanced with periods of disciplined thinking, will keep you on point. It’s hard, but sometimes I literally tell myself, ‘Today is just for dreaming.'” —Sandy Chilewich, founder and creative director of Chilewich

“I practice mindfulness meditation using a guided app called Headspace, which helps train your mind to eliminate distractions and be present. Not only do I feel more centered and balanced after I meditate, it also helps me to approach my day with a clear head so my focus is sharper throughout the day.” Nicole Gibbons, interior designer and founder of Clare Paints

Catch Some Zzzs

(Image credit: Value City Furniture)

“I may be partial to sleep since I started a bedding brand, but getting those seven to eight hours every night ensures that I am focused and alert the next day.” —Heather Kaminetsky, founder and president of Riley Home