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What Every Designer Should Do Right Now


While trying to balance the different areas of our life, there are things that we often forget and neglect to do. With today’s fast-paced society and the busyness of our every day, we tend to overlook some important things. I would like to remind every designer today about some of these tasks that we often put-off but are so important and necessary to get done.

1. Back Up All Your Files Now Link

"Procrastination is the bad habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday." – Napoleon Hill

Back Up

I’m sure that you’ve heard this over and over again but how many of you have actually taken the time to actually do it? Just a few days ago, I read about a designer on Twitter who 1 lost some of his files due to some of his hardware malfunctioning. That is such a bummer. Let’s learn from his experience and let’s backup our files right away. How sad would that be to lose all your important photos, projects, documents and sensitive and irreplaceable data. I am guilty of this myself. I don’t even remember the last time I backed up my data. (Currently 483 GB of files) As I am writing this article, I am already buying an external hard drive to back up my files.

Another good idea is to not only backup your local files but to backup your website files as well. If you have a WordPress blog, make sure to backup2 your database as well. A few months ago, my blog was hacked but thankfully, I had a backup of all my files so fixing it wasn’t too much of a hassle.

By the way, if you only want to backup your important files and not your entire hard drive, then you can try using Dropbox3 as well. It’s one of the best apps that I’ve used recently.

Backup Articles and Resources: Link

2. Get Your Online Portfolio Up or Updated Now Link

"There are a million ways to lose a work day, but not even a single way to get one back." -Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister

Show Off Your Portfolio

If there is one thing that a designer needs today, it is an online portfolio. No longer is just a physical portfolio enough, but with the internet, every designer needs a good looking online portfolio.

I have met so many designers who either have a portfolio that was updated years ago and full of old projects, as well as designers who don’t even have an online portfolio. When I’m reading through comments on different blogs and on this blog, I usually click on some of the author’s names to check out their site. A lot of the names that I click on take me to a page where it says, "Coming Soon" or "Under Construction." There is no excuse to not having an online portfolio. I know that we all suffer with the disease of never thinking our design is good enough, but we need to get over that and just get our portfolio up. (Believe me, it took me months to finally be pleased with my site and put it online.) Some graphic designers give the excuse that their web design skills just aren’t up to par but that is simply no excuse. Use the different sites out there where you don’t need to have web design knowledge in order for you to showcase your work.

List of Online Portfolio Sites:

3. Finish That Project Right Now Link

"What may be done at any time will be done at no time." – Scottish Proverb

Show Off Your Portfolio

We all have projects on the back burner. Maybe it’s a blog that you have been wanting to start. For some, it could be a client design that they are not particularly thrilled about doing. Whatever it is, you need to do it now. Sometimes, it would be helpful if we can just tune out the distractions around us and just find a way to finish that project now. Many designers are guilty of not getting their projects in on time. A survey on CSS-Tricks12 shows that 38% of the designers usually get their projects turned in late and they fail to meet the deadlines that were originally agreed on. This is a big deal. You can hurt your business by not getting your projects done and you can even lose your clients. So what are you waiting for? Finish reading this article and get started on that project.

4. Clean Your Desk and Organize Your Files Now Link

"Someday is not a day of the week."

Messy Desk

If you are like the average designer, there are times that you get very busy. In all that activity, everything that you do seem to revolve around your computer desk. It’s not uncommon to find scratch paper, pens, doodles, notepads, stickies, food wrappers, sodas, empty cups and other paraphernalia on your desk after working on it for 10 straight hours. A simple thing that you can do is before you stop working every day, take the last five minutes and just tidy up your desk and get it ready for the next day. This will greatly increase your productivity the next day when you start work on a clean and neat desk.

What kind of desktop wallpaper do you have? Oh what’s that? You can’t even see it. When we get busy, we tend to just drop files on our desktop and we neglect to put them in their rightful place. A messy desktop leads to an unproductive day because instead of knowing where everything is, you have to sit there and search for the file you are looking for. Here are some tips that I use to organize my desktop.

  • Simplify everything us much as possible.
  • Use folders.
  • Customize your icons.
  • Come up with a file naming convention that works for you.
  • Have a folder called "Sort Out" where you just put files that you just don’t have time to sort out yet. Then once a week, go through that folder and arrange it and put everything where it belongs.

5. Gather and Collect Design Resources Now Link

"Putting off an easy thing makes it hard. Putting off a hard thing makes it impossible." – George Claude Lorimer

Design Resources

Every designer needs a good resource collection. I personally have collected tons of files and other stuff online and have organized an awesome resource collection that I use every day. If you take this advice and run with it, I guarantee that it will definitely save you time, money, effort, and headaches. Do it today! By the way, there are multitudes of websites online that offer up great resources for FREE! Just a quick Google search should solve that problem.

While browsing the web, you should always be searching for free resources, tips, tricks and other files that are available. The work that you spend to find new resources and inspiration will definitely be worth it in the long run.

Here’s a small list of resources that you should be collecting now. Whether you’re already a professional graphic designer or you’re just getting started, gathering these resources for your future use is definitely something that you can’t put off.

  • Actions for Photoshop
  • Brushes
  • Fonts
  • Icons
  • Ideas and Inspiration
  • Layer Styles
  • PSD Files
  • Stock Photos
  • Textures
  • Vector Graphics

What resources have you found helpful? I am always looking to add to my resources as well so please share your favorites in the comments section. Here are a list of articles that I found online that deal about resources in a greater and more in-depth way.

While these points all seem like they are very easy to do, you will be surprised at the amount of designers who haven’t done these things at all. I do suggest that you take a look at the list one more time and see if you need to do some of these things. By the way, I’m sure there are a lot of other things that could have been added to this list. What are your suggestions? What are some other things that designers should be doing today? Please leave your thoughts and ideas below. Thank you!

Footnotes Link

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Former editor in chief of Designinformer.

  1. 1

    We often forget to do some small things that can mean a lot to us. That’s a nice reminder :)

  2. 3

    i need to organize my resources! they are in a right mess!

  3. 4

    This is all so true, the only one i don’t do enough is collecting resourses, I need to star tdownloading more of the links i see on Twitter and use all the stuff.

    • 5

      No need to worry Alan. What you can also do is just save the links to these resources on a bookmarks folder and you can just refer to it that way, or you can even use Delicious.

  4. 6

    Thanks ! very good post Thank you so much.

  5. 7

    I’m doing all of this today!


  6. 9

    Yeh this reminds me to clean my desk.. thnak you.. what about you :)

    • 10

      My desk is actually pretty clean at the moment. But I do need to clean my desk at home. It’s getting a little messy, but nothing like the picture above. ;)

  7. 11

    Hi Jad……….

    Its great reminder that u done here. A big salute…really wonderfull… thnk u

  8. 12

    Need to do two from the list :)) And then to tick off two projects in the evening :) That’s a real pleasure.

  9. 14

    Haha, I recently lost my files too but its not 483 GB’s, just a few MB’s :(

  10. 16

    Excellent post. I especially like the quote “Someday is not a day of the week.”.

    I think it is important to have an automated way of backing up files as nobody likes to back things up and there are plenty of automated systems out there. Time Machine works fine for me.

    • 17

      Agreed. That quote is awesome!

      About Time Machine, it is definitely very useful and it saves so much time. I wish they had something like that on PC. Well, they do, but it’s nowhere as aesthetically pleasing and usable as Time Machine.

  11. 18


    You’ll never believe this but in the last week, ive had my computer completely crash and my domain hosting temporarily halted. (its all okay now)

    I was so glad i had just backed everything up. What could have been a major disaster has become just a small setback. I also recently updated my portfolio.

    This article is spot on. thanks for sharing

    • 19

      I’m sorry to hear that Preston. But anyway, I’m glad that you had everything backed up. I’m sure that was a relief to know that even though your computer crashed, that you had your files backed up. I know the feeling of losing all your files because it happened to me before.

  12. 20

    lol good article i agree with all the points, number 1 is the biggest pane if you forget to do it, and 2 and 3 always get pushed back when you have lot’s to do.

    My desk always gets messy after a week of solid work, but feels good when you tidy up!

  13. 22

    Brilliant article! I couldn’t agree more… unfortunately I haven’t updated my stuff, nor gathered the resources I need (although they’re waiting for me in Delicious)
    I just want to meet 3 deadlines and do the rest at the end.
    Guess we should schedule a day during the week to do all these things on a regular basis eh?

    Thanks for sharing… and man I love your posts, so stylish Wow!

    • 23

      Thanks a lot! BTW, I think using Delicious is okay. As long as you have a system going, then it’s all good. Also, I do agree. I think we should take a few hours each week just getting organized and doing the mundane but necessary things.

  14. 24

    Yep…I need to print out this list!

  15. 26

    Good article. Very nice and thought provoking. Thank you.

  16. 27

    Some of those are perfect procrastination tools too!

  17. 28

    # Stop using stock photography

    • 29

      I actually like to use stock photography in some of my posts, as long as they can convey the message. Oh, and especially because I have a free stock photo account. ;)

  18. 30

    Very Nice Article, love the simplicity of your explanations :)

  19. 31

    My desk was so full of piles of papers, books, sketches etc. I cleaned it one week ago, what a relief!

    But I still working on my online portfolio. I don’t have much free time, so I spend like 15min-1hour per day working on it. I’ll launch it before including all features, but the design at least must be perfect.

    I already have a deviantART, but it’s a shame present one as a online portfolio. It’s better to a designer to have a custom, personal portifolio. If it’s webdesigner… there is no excuse for don’t having one!

    • 32

      I definitely agree with you Camila. It’s good to have a personal portfolio, but it’s better to have a Deviant Art one rather than not having one at all. But I do suggest Behance, as it’s higher quality in my opinion.

  20. 33

    Thanks for the reminders. I needed and appreciated it. I think that every designer needs a nudge every now and then. Keep up the great work.

  21. 34

    Here’s a tip for starting a resource collection if you’re not a freelancer:

    I used to bookmark or create Word Documents of articles and resources I found online and email them to myself, but that made accessing them between work and home impossible! Now I create a list of tutorials, articles, and other online resources I find in Google docs, and it works out wonderfully. I can access and edit the file at home or at work without it getting lost in my inbox.

    • 35

      Hi Katie. Great suggestion. I actually use Dropbox for my resources, so I can easily access them between multiple computers.

      However, recently, I’ve also been using Google Docs but for something else. I use it to jot down the ideas that I get about blog posts, and I use it to record different sites that I see that I want to refer back to again. It’s very useful.

  22. 36

    Awesome list, I always try to keep my file resources organized, but working on various computers tends to lead to resources missing or file version control a nightmare, so I tend to have a web resource USB key for all my resources that I just carry around with me. This works for my situation, how do you manage working on numerous machines. Also not all machines are networked together and bandwidth is an issue on one, hence the use of the USB.

    • 37

      Hi Thomas, a USB is a good solution. I’m horrible with those things though. I always lose them. I think I’ve lost about 3 USB’s. That’s why for me, Dropbox is a lifesaver. It’s one of my favorite apps.

  23. 38

    Good tips Jad, but how can I get that project done right now if I’m engrossed in reading this? :) I especially agree with keep your workspace clean and uncluttered. I’ve noticed a difference in my attention span alone if I’m sitting at a cluttered desk. It becomes hard to focus if my files and desk isn’t organized in my line of sight.

  24. 40

    I am soo guilty of #4 right now– thanks for the reminder!

  25. 41

    Eeep! OK Dad. ;p I am guilty of 1, 2 and 4. *sigh*

    Great reminder though! Thanks. :)

    • 42

      Haha, I do think that I sounded a little bit like a parent in this article.

      It actually reminds me of my mom when she tells me to go clean my room or throw the trash. :)

      Now go do 1, 2 and 4. NOW!

  26. 43

    Really nice article that lays it all out in a to-do list! Saves all of us procrastinators the effort of laying it all out… because we probably wouldn’t do that until tomorrow.. or the day after that… ;)

    Seriously though, very nice list and great addition of the resource links to help. Thanks!

  27. 45

    Great list but I would like to add one more i.e Take good care of your eyes!

  28. 46

    sounds like what a designer mom would nag about ;) clean your room!

  29. 48

    I definitely need to do EVERY SINGLE ITEM that you mention!

  30. 49

    Great tips.

    Funny you mentioned number 4. My desk, instead of cups, is full of pens, pencils, markers, and paper…I really need to tidy up. I’ve actually just got into the habit of backing up my files. I would hate to lose all my school projects.


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