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When You're Forced To Work From Home - RD207

Resourceful Designer

Release Date: 03/16/2020

Standing Out From Your Competition - RD234 show art Standing Out From Your Competition - RD234

Resourceful Designer

How are you standing out from your competition What do you think of when you hear the word “pencil”? I bet that one of the images that flashed through your head is of a yellow-painted piece of wood with a graphite center. The quintessential yellow pencil found the world over. A Medium article by Melissa Gouty titled “Why Pencils Are Painted Yellow" got me thinking about the parallels between a yellow pencil and your design business. I'm going to paraphrase Melissa's article for the sake of my comparison. The common yellow pencil that we take for granted helped spark the renaissance....

3 Things To Do Today For A More Productive Tomorrow - RD233 show art 3 Things To Do Today For A More Productive Tomorrow - RD233

Resourceful Designer

Being diligent today will make you more productive tomorrow. I talked about dividing your to-do list into three sections, non-negotiables, procratinatables and optionables, and how doing so will help you organize your day. I also discussed listening to your body's clock to determine the best time of day to tackle certain projects and tasks. Today's post is all about setting up for a more productive tomorrow. And to do that, you need to start today. For as long as I can remember, my nightly routine before bed has included looking and preparing for the next morning. Call it my shutdown...

Writing The Perfect To-Do List - RD232 show art Writing The Perfect To-Do List - RD232

Resourceful Designer

The Perfect To-Do List + Time Management = Success. If you search through the Apple or Google app directories, you will find dozens, if not hundreds, of options for creating so-called perfect to-do lists. I like for grocery lists and shopping lists or keep track of the unending chores and tasks I need to do around the house. For work-related lists, my go-to is  (get a free month with this link). I have Evernote fine-tuned with different notebooks for every part of my work life. But it doesn’t matter if you use a digital tool or pencil and paper if you don’t understand the...

Producing In-House - RD231 show art Producing In-House - RD231

Resourceful Designer

Are you producing any of your design projects in-house? I got the idea for this episode of the podcast when a member of the shared her new toy with us in our Slack group. Laura bought a . It’s an eco-solvent printer she plans on using to produce stickers, vehicle graphics and apparel graphics, among other things. This new piece of equipment will allow her to produce materials for her clients in-house. She also plans on using it to make pieces to sell through her Etsy shop. This got me thinking about different ways designers can produce things in-house. Now for the record, I...

Farming Out Design Work - RD230 show art Farming Out Design Work - RD230

Resourceful Designer

Do you farm out design projects? Finding yourself overwhelmed with too many design projects is a sure sign that you are not charging enough for your design services. Don’t turn clients away. Instead, raise your prices and start farming out design work. The following is a post from the . Hi guys So I'm turning away a lot of work at the moment, as I have my day job, and seem to have very little energy in the evenings and weekends to take on many freelance jobs. Seriously, I'm feeling so burned out, have been for a while now. I do the odd freelance jobs here and there for previous clients that...

Invest In Yourself - RD229 show art Invest In Yourself - RD229

Resourceful Designer

If you want to succeed as a designer, you must invest in yourself. Have you heard the quote, “it takes money to make money?” The same concept applies to growing your design business as well as improving yourself as a designer. If you don’t invest in yourself, you’ll become stagnant, outdated, and eventually overlooked. Clients hire graphic and web designers because they want fresh ideas and skillsets to implement them. These clients will quickly tire of someone if all they ever produce are the same old things. No business or person, for that matter, can do the same thing over and over...

Print Is Not Dead - RD228 show art Print Is Not Dead - RD228

Resourceful Designer

Contrary to popular belief, print is not dead. There was a time, not long ago, when graphic designers designed almost entirely for print. Sure there were trade show booths and vehicle graphics, but in their way, those are print as well. As the internet became more and more popular, started to encroach on a turf that was mostly populated by computer programmers. And before you knew it, a whole new industry was born–Web design. design allowed graphic designers to help clients on two fronts—both digital design and print design. But as time moved along and the world moved closer to being a...

First Contact: Interviewing New Design Clients - RD227 show art First Contact: Interviewing New Design Clients - RD227

Resourceful Designer

Do you vet potential new design clients? How do you know that you’re the right designer for a project? Or maybe the question should be, how do you know a potential new design client is right for you? In the past, I’ve covered what to ask during a , and to ask your design clients about their projects. Almost all of the questions covered in those episodes are for building relationships with your clients after you’ve decided to work with them. But I don’t think I’ve ever talked about that first contact with a potential new client before. First contact. The first contact refers to those...

What Got You Here Won't Get You There - RD226 show art What Got You Here Won't Get You There - RD226

Resourceful Designer

How are you going to take your design business to the next level? “What got you here won’t get you there.” I’ve heard this phrase a few times over the past couple of weeks, and it got me thinking about my life, my design career and my business. This is not about Marshall Goldsmith’s book of the same title. Although I hear it’s a great book. It’s about the phrase itself and how it applies to you and your design business. At its core, “What got you here won’t get you there” is such a simple statement, and yet it holds so much truth. You can only get so far in life...

Creating Systems - RD225 show art Creating Systems - RD225

Resourceful Designer

Are you creating systems to help your design business? Mike, a member of the , posted in the Community Slack group his frustrations with one of his clients. Mike built, manages and updates an eCommerce website for a client of his. His frustration is that every time his client wants a new product added to the site, he fails to provide Mike with all the necessary information, requiring Mike to contact the client, sometimes more than once, for the rest of the info. Mike’s situation reminded me of a similar one I had with a client several years ago. And how my frustrations forced me into...

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Is the coronavirus (COVID-19) fording you to work from home?

This past week, sports organizations around the world have stopped play to minimize the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Broadway closed down all performances. Disney World, Disney Land, Disney Paris and Universal Studios shut their doors for the rest of the month.

Even Mount Everest shut down to climbers for the rest of the year. When one of the most remote places on earth shuts down, you know the situation is serious.

In light of this global pandemic, many businesses are asking their employees to self-isolate and work from home.

If you are not a self-employed designer and instead work for an employer, one who is asking you to work from home here is some advice to help you through this temporary job relocation.

1) Create a work from home schedule.

Working from home is very different than working in an office environment. Without a formal structure, it can be easy to lose track of time and become less productive.

A schedule helps you stay on track and get your work done. And the good thing is your home schedule doesn’t have to follow your regular work schedule.

You can adjust your home schedule for the times you’re most productive. If you’re not a morning person, then shift your schedule an hour or more.

If your morning commute typically starts around 8 am to be at work for your 9-5 shift, why not start working at 8 am and finish at 4 pm. Eliminating the commute gives you two extra hours per day.

Of course, you need to work the hours that your boss needs you to work. And be conscious of what times you may need to communicate with clients, contractors or co-workers.

2) Make a to-do list.

Since working from home is out of your element, and since there’s nobody there keeping an eye on you, the best thing you can do is make yourself a to-do list and adhere to it.

Identify what you need to accomplish each day and check off each task as you complete it. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day, and it will hold you accountable and make sure you are using your time productively.

3) Find a dedicated work area.

Find a dedicated space in your home and designate it as your “work area.” Your bed or sofa doesn’t count. Lounging on the couch with your laptop on your lap may sound pleasant and relaxing, but it doesn’t lead to productivity.

In this case, your kitchen or dining room table is acceptable as a workspace if you don’t already have a desk.

The more you make the area feel like a work environment, the more you’ll feel like working.

Inquire if your company has any allowance or budget to help you with expenses. Sitting at a kitchen chair all day is not comfortable. Your employer may be willing to purchase or rent you a chair to use while you work from home. Or they may ship one to you from the office. The same goes for computer equipment or whatever else you need to do your job.

Your employer is paying you to be productive, even when you’re working from home. They might be willing to invest a bit to ensure you can do the work properly.

4) Handling meetings while working from home.

When working from home, any regular office or client meetings will most likely take place over video. Here are some tips.

When in a conference call with several people, make sure you acknowledge your presence. Let people know you are there. Sure they can see your avatar or your video, but letting them know you are there tells them you are focused on the meeting.

You should also acknowledge the others who are on the call. If you would typically say hi to everyone before a live meeting, do the same on a virtual one.

If you are not familiar with video conferencing platforms, two that I use are Skype and Zoom. All Resourceful Designer Community chats take place over Zoom.

You can also try Loom, which allows you to send video emails to people. It’s great for presenting things to your boss or clients that you would generally do in person.

5) Dealing with isolation.

For someone not used to working from home, it can get lonely, especially if the situation lasts for several weeks. Here are some tips to help you deal with isolation.

  1. Go outside. Even if there’s nobody around, just getting out of the house can help ease that feeling of isolation.
  2. Move your workspace. Work for a couple of days in the kitchen, then move to the living room. Changing up your environment, even if it’s within your own home, can help you feel less isolated.
  3. Keep in touch with your co-workers and colleagues. Find out what they’re working on and update them on your progress. Have the same conversations you would be having if you were back in the office. There’s no reason to stop just because you’re working from home.
  4. Engage on social media, or, better yet, become part of an online community like the Resourceful Designer Community.
  5. Members of the Resourceful Designer Community talk to each other daily. It’s one of the ways we cope with the loneliness of working all by yourself day after day.
  6. And finally, and I know this may sound crazy, but try talking to yourself. Sometimes hearing a voice, even if it’s your own, can help ease the stress of being alone.

6) Dealing with kids while you work from home.

There’s a good chance your children’s school will close during this pandemic. Which means you have to deal with kids at home while trying to work.

Explain to your kids that even though you are home, you are working, and they must allow you to work.

This may not be the best parenting advice, but let your kids watch tv, play video games, if possible, get them to read a book. Try different things to distract them and let you get your work done.

Make sure to check in on them regularly. Less so with older kids, but you may have to check on younger kids every 20-60 minutes if they are not within eyesight.

Make time in the schedule I talked about earlier. Set “breaks” throughout the day and spend some quality time with them before getting back to work. Show interest in what they’re doing. Be sure you let them know how much you appreciate them allowing you time to work. If keeping your children entertained and happy means extending your workday by an hour or so, it may be worth it.

7) Avoid distraction

Working from home is fantastic. I wouldn’t change my lifestyle for anything. But one of the fallbacks to home-based working are the many distractions that come with working in the same place you live.

You may want to do a load of laundry, empty the dishwasher, or take the time to prepare a big lunch. These are things you wouldn’t be doing if you were at the office, so try avoiding them while working from home.

Treat your work time and home time differently, even if they both happen at the same place.

8) Turn working from home into a learning experience.

Take advantage of this opportunity. If you want to dress casually while working at home, or even stay in your PJs, then go ahead. Don’t feel like shaving, doing your hair or putting on makeup; it’s not a big deal unless you have a video call.

Want to catch up on one of your Netflix show during your lunch hour. Why not.

Use this opportunity to learn what it feels like to work from home and figure out if it’s something you can picture yourself doing permanently in the future.

Who knows, this pandemic may turn out to be a blessing in disguise and propel you to a future life of entrepreneurship.

You never know.

Are you being forced to work from home?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Tip of the week Create a coronavirus (COVID-19) poster for your clients.

In the middle of this global pandemic, many businesses are making an effort to inform their employees, clients and customers of how they are handling things. This is the perfect opportunity for you to design a poster for them to use.

Create a single poster with all the information about the outbreak, and offer it to each of your clients with their own branding on the top.

Be sure to include your own branding and contact information on it as well.

Offer this for free during this trying time and your clients will appreciate you all the more for it.