Creative Boundaries In Design, Projects, And Business
Sometimes, it's really hard to create when you have unlimited choices, especially in creative fields such as design.
Imagine you wake up early in the morning and have no specific tasks for the day. You sit down at your work desk, log on to your computer, and what's next?
The lack of starting point and creative boundaries is somewhat stopping you from being productive. You basically don't know what to do and what to focus on at the present moment if you haven't taken care of it ahead of time. And the first thing in your mind can be not even to start working just because it's too confusing. So, maybe you'll come up with ideas later, and that would be a good time for work, but actually, that's not true.
To move from this death point, you need to start moving. You can't steer a parking car. So set tasks and start moving.
Set a goal
Creating tasks and planning your work will create some boundaries in your daily routines. But that should be done right to make this method work.
First of all, we need to concentrate on your end goals. What do you want to achieve? How your project or life will look like when you succeed? These are important questions, and basically, you can finish reading this article if you have answers to those questions.
But it's not always that easy to answer them, so I'd like to expand on this topic further in this article.
And... Hey! You can then answer your questions so we can work on your particular case.
A concrete goal will create boundaries. You can set up the income that you want from your project or a set of specific parameters like user base size, revenue metrics, the amount of impact, etc.
However, if, for example, you want a good-looking website, it can be shallow and not enough to set boundaries. Where is the end goal here? What do you want to get from a good-looking website?
Your goal should motivate you and have as many details as possible.
When you set up a goal for the project and know your starting point, you can define what steps you need to take to get the final point and accomplish this goal.
Sometimes having a goal is not enough. You might not feel or see the boundaries of your work.
Next steps after setting your goal
Let's highlight several methods to help you with this.
1. Make your solution narrower; you can add features later
Focus on what is most important now, not what will be good to have in the future. A project usually solves someone else's problem. So it would be best if you could cut unnecessary features and focus on main functionality and design solutions. You can always add additional phases later.
2. Set deadlines for each task
If you don't know what to do now, even if you have tasks or some sort of a checklist, you can modify it so it better leads you to your goals. Split your tasks into stages or mini-projects within one big project and set deadlines. In this way, you can see a timeframe, and it might make it easier to think about your project and easy to grab a fraction of it and start working.
So, for example, you can better understand how you perform with your project and when you'll finish some of the phases, tasks, or a complete milestone. This can look like a personal progress bar.
3. Each task should give you a visible result
Create your tasks in a way when you can see visible results when you accomplish them.
For instance, if you create a wireframe for a home page, the end goal should be a set of blocks, including the main message, call to action elements, layout, etc. So, you can expect the exact result. However, sometimes, we can have an intangible result, and it's hard to know from the beginning what you're going to create as the final result of the task.
Here is one more example. Imagine you've interviewed 3-5 designers that potentially could your project, and you didn't decide who would be the best fit. I'd highly recommend you creating a report during each interview session. So, as a result, you have material that might help you perform better in your future interview sessions, even if they're for different parts of the project. That way, you can optimize your time and be more productive.
Or, for example, you had a meeting or brainstorming session with a team. How you'll know that you accomplished this meeting task? You can easily make notes during your meeting, and in the end, you will have documented sessions that perhaps you can use in the project, and it's a visible result after your meeting. Documenting your process might help you indicate if there is any value or not. And you can think about eliminating some of the meetings if, for example, there is nothing to document on these sessions.
4. Create your own rules and principles
Write a guideline document that informs all team members about project goals, their roles in this project, timelines, instruments, and inventory that you can use during the work.
For example, designers can set up design principles for their work that have an explanation or a simple list of platforms (i.e., web environment, mobile devices), screen sizes, software and other tools that designers use during their work, work methods, step by step guidelines, etc.
5. Use calendar or Gantt diagram
This method allows you to see time frames visually of your project. When you add all your tasks to a calendar, you can see and manage them, imagining how it works with the timeline. Visual diagrams help to optimize work sessions and manage time inside projects more intuitively. You can use free time slots or separate complex tasks on smaller chunks to make them easier to approach and finalize. One more tip here is to leave gaps in case if something goes out of the scope. So things don't overlap too much.
6. Get out of your comfy work desk
Routines are good, but sometimes you need to get out of your usual work schedule and do something else. Let the fresh ideas come to your work process. Visit conferences and webinars, speak with someone in your field, and even with those who make things in other areas. You can get different pieces of advice in places you don't even expect, but sometimes you need to go out of your comfort zone first.
Of course, you don't need to do all these points in the exact sequence or even all of them. You can pick what you like and try things out. Also, you can delegate and hire someone who can do some of these methods and work similarly as described in this article. Of course, you might need to organize your team and monitor how everything is going, but you can achieve the same results faster if everything is done right.