Normally I don't post things like this, but here are a few good pieces of advice for designers, but they apply to pretty much everyone.
Everything that does not involve your nose pressed against the screen and your fingers clicking away in Photoshop is a waste of time. The only way to get better at design is to spend more time doing it. Every single other activity you can do related or not, will not help you get better or make you more money.
- reading blogs and forums
- reading and participating in social media
When you are stuck don’t look for inspiration. Get some trusted eyes to review your design. Go back over your notes and guidelines for the project. Show your progress to the client. Anything other than turning to magazines or the internet. Real live feedback from a human being is the best way to get “un-stuck” and back to work.
If work is slow, have some personal projects lined up that you can work on. Something that pushes you in a new direction or improves a skill you aren’t so great at.
Develop A Conversational Smile
This will serve you well in any walk of life. Even if you aren’t a very outgoing person, having a conversational smile will go a long way when working with clients or really anyone. By conversational smile, I don’t mean having a big shit-eating grin at all times.
You just need to smile when you talk and listen to people in your conversations. It shows that you are interested, enjoy the conversation, and the work you are doing. Whoever you happen to be talking to will also feel a lot more comfortable and willing to have further conversations with you down the road. Clients are far more inclined to do more work with you if they enjoy being around you.
A good example of someone who does this right is Matt Cutts. He seems like the kind of person who loves his job and talking about SEO. Maybe he actually doesn’t and the job is crazy stressful but you would never know it by watching his videos and presentations.
Smiles, enthusiasm and positive attitudes are contagious. You don’t have to be the life of the party, but if you fit in better at a funeral than a party, learning to smile is the best piece of advice I can give. Even if you are an introvert, learning to smile when you have a conversation will help you get through life so much easier.
Eliminate Sarcasm From Your Tone
I am a pretty sarcastic person but being sarcastic doesn’t help you at all. It is hard sometimes to not fire of snide remarks and even if they are in jest, you would be better off not saying anything. Keep it to yourself.
Sarcasm is the gateway drug that leads to negativity
Sarcasm usually has a ring of truth to it. It is a gentler way of saying how you really feel. Just keep the negativity to yourself.
We all get comfortable in our routines and anything that forces us out of them makes us agitated. So when a client wants to make last minute changes or needs you to put in extra work, potentially working extra hours, you get frustrated and melt down. The quality of the work suffers and your relationship with the client suffers.
So the best thing to do is try and differential your routine as much as possible. If you can work at night instead of during the day a couple times a month, do it. Don’t get in the mindset where you know you are leaving every day right at 5:00. Plan to stay an hour late some days and come in an hour later the next day. Make sure to have some food at work so you aren’t starving at the end of the day. So when that client calls you at 4:45 asking for something, you aren’t going to freak out.
The better you can handle a varying schedule the more likely you are to not lose it when shit hits the fan. Inevitably clients will need you to work extra hours on a project. Projects will go over deadline. Projects will take up far more time than they should. Be OK with working a little extra a few times a month. If clients don’t require it, go ahead and do it on your own, that way, you are ready to handle it.
Surround Yourself with the Right People
The people you surround yourself with make all the difference. Clients who treat you poorly and stress you out should be fired. If you work with a bunch of burnt out designers, find a new job where people have passion. You are as good as of the people around you.
It can also be nice to interact with people with complementary skills such as: programs, photographers, copywriters, illustrators, artists and so on. Other creates can give you new perspectives on your work and can help you grow in new directions. Don’t just hang out with fellow web designers. Especially because you end up complaining about clients and other stresses of the job. Find people who are interesting in a related field and get together with them at least once a month.
Some pretty basic tips but hopefully you find them useful.