Simple Strategy for Designers to Stay on Task

Even the greatest technology is only as productive as the user. If you want to get more done, it takes more than great design software. It takes great time management.

Take it from designer Jake Knapp, who wrote the book Sprint. In the book, Knapp codifies the concept of a “design sprint,” his five-day process for coming up with ideas, prototypes, and testing to help designers get the most out of their ever-compressed work schedules.

For everyday projects, however, Knapp has a more simplified way to stay on task. As a visual guy, he suggests creating a graphic to visually represent daily priorities.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Fold a piece of paper in half to create two columns.
  2. On the left side, write a list of the most pressing (mission-critical and time-sensitive) projects.
  3. On the right side, write a list of the tasks that are important but without the same level of urgency.
  4. At the bottom of the right-hand side, write down the rest of the “to do” items (i.e., wish list) that you can fit in as you go along.

Pin the paper where you can see it. Look at it regularly throughout the day. Scratch out completed items and recreate your lists as tasks are completed.

As you work through your lists, consider tacking each new list over top of the old one instead of throwing the old one away. This way, when you feel that you are falling further and further behind, you can look back through your old lists and see just how productive you’ve really been!