10 Productivity Tips Right from the World’s Top Designers Mouths


“Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works.” – Steve Jobs

Attention designers! Who wants to get design tips right from the world’s top designers mouths?

I am not a designer but this was such a great inspiration and motivation in the morning to grasp some lines of these tips from the designers who work at GOOGLE, ARGO, WORK & CO., USTWO, SAGMEISTER+WALSH, OKFOCUS, AND MORE. they TELL US HOW THEY STAY FOCUSED AND KEEP INNOVATING.

Even if you are having your dream job right now and by waking up in the morning and reaching your working desk is a supreme enjoyment for you, any way, admit it, staying productive can be tough.

Being a designer is not easy, that’s why designers are such a productivity experts. Sometimes they just need to surmount the temptation to slack so that they can produce new ideas.


A lot of time can be wasted in pursuit of the wrong goal. The longer I have worked as a designer, the more I have learned establishing that you are working on the right thing from the beginning, not just working, boosts productivity. Sure, in the moment, time spent asking yourself, ‘Am I working on the right thing?’ makes you feel anxious, but it’s worth it. —Jared Ficklin, Argo Design


My trick is reading. The first thing I do when I get to the office is start reading. I have a stack of books on my desk, all design related, and I’ll read for a little bit. Not long, maybe 15 to 20 minutes. I switch back from different books on different days. It calms me down, gets me focused, and lets me think about the bigger picture… When I am running out of steam and I’m getting distracted, I grab a book and do the same thing. Read for 15 to 20 minutes. I find myself re-focused and fresh, it’s like taking a nap. I don’t know enough about these things, but it seems like I’m using a different part of my brain—so my design brain gets to rest and my reading brain stimulates me. I come back ready to go and feeling content. —Joe Stewart, partner, Work & Co.


I found breaking down big goals into smaller tasks to be the best way for me to get things done. I can make small progress and knock off these bite-size tasks whenever I have a moment. —Jannie Lai, head of UX, Light


Think about all your haters and the people who don’t believe in you. That’s a huge motivator, as well as thinking about how good it feels to see something you made in the world. Focus on the ends and the means become easier. —Ryder Ripps, creative director, OKFocus


For productivity, the No. 1 tool for me are old-fashioned lists. I make a lot of them. I make lists for the day, sub-lists for projects, and sub-sub-lists in rush-hours of work. Simply on paper or in Apple Reminders, the simplest and sturdy to-do list tool. —Florian Mewes, graphic designer


When you really need to get something done, it can be helpful to force yourself to focus on it without distraction for an extended period of time. I find that it helps if you set a timer for an hour or two and set a goal to focus 100% on the design at hand until the timer goes off, after which you can give yourself a little break. Some people use an egg timer for this, but I just use the iPhone timer app. —Andrew Ofstad, co-founder and chief product officer, Airtable


I’ve found that putting up work on social media is a huge help here—it becomes more tangible and keeps you honest. Give your Tumblr/Twitter/whatever a bit of structure, set up a schedule and then go for it. Make the project doable in chunks and tie it to something external rather than just a pure design exercise. The reactions from your audience will create a useful feedback loop that drives you to the next installment.


The beat of my day is set by the music I listen to. Music is also how I can slip away into my own world and get into a focused state. I listen to different music for different tasks, and even different music for different moods. Regardless, music helps me move through my thoughts more smoothly and efficiently, often shielding me from the city around me. As long as I have my headphones, I’m able to work in any environment. —Leah Shea, Product Designer at ustwo


Embodying a positive mental attitude keeps me productive, and I see it increasing the productivity of the people around me when I project it in the right ways. Now, I am by no means the most bubbly-happy person, but having the right mind frame can be the difference between crushing a project or just barely getting by. Work can be stressful, but it’s my choice as to how I want to deal with it. When I am thinking positively, I feel my creativity increasing, my number one power. —Leah Shea, product designer at ustwo


Make sure you end your day on a clear, high-point with your work so that when you come in the next day you’re starting from a good place.—Renae Alsobrook, Argo Design

These experts have shared their personal approaches of how to stay productive, but take into consideration that this is a personal thing as everyone’s inner world works for its own. But we guarantee that one of these tips sure will work for you!

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