Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, lots of graphic designers and other creatives were able to work remotely. And there’s a lot of joy that comes with working out of your own space – you have more freedom and flexibility, and you don’t lose time to a long commute.
However, remote jobs can also be difficult. Despite the abundance of advantages that come with working from home, you might find yourself lonely or lacking the sense of structure you might find in an office environment. And if these feelings begin to overwhelm you, you might not get to enjoy all the perks that do come from graphic designing from home.
But hey, we’ve been there. So we put together a list of tips for graphic designers to stay happy while working remotely. Check out our top 10 tips below.
1. Separate work and home life
Work-life balance has a tendency to turn into work-life blending, especially when we work remotely. While some argue the pros for blending the two together, I’m an advocate for taking the proactive steps in separating them. Technology keeps up constantly connected to email and work. We’re always easy to reach, and that makes it difficult for us to “turn off” when we should be enjoying things outside of work.
Make it a point to separate the two. Block off your calendar when you don’t want to be working so clients know not to book meetings at that time. Also, physically establish your “workspace” and your “leisure space” at home. Separating the two will allow you to more easily balance – instead of blend – work and life.
2. Create a schedule
Become a planner. When are your work hours? When are your exercise hours? When do you hang out with friends? Building a weekly routine and schedule will help keep you organized – and sane – while trying to balance everything that life demands. Having a schedule also allows me to be happier when I’m doing “fun” things. If I’ve intentionally scheduled a Friday off to go to the beach with my family, I don’t feel guilty because it was already included in my plan.
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3. Prioritize inspiration
When I commuted to work, I would listen to podcasts on the way that would help jumpstart my daily creativity. When I started working from home full-time, I stopped listening to these podcasts and it threw me off.
So I replaced my morning commute with a morning walk. I knew that beginning my day with creative inspiration would help me as I got to work. Ensure that you always prioritize the things that keep you inspired and creative.
4. Eliminate distractions
If you need to put your phone in a different room because you can’t not pick it up every 10 minutes, do it. Our time distractors are our biggest enemies – especially when we work remotely. We have to be our own bosses and ensure we’re accountable and responsible when it comes to time.
5. Mix up your work environment
Maybe working from your bedroom for the last three months worked well for you. But now it’s become dreary. Mix it up!
Try working at a coffee shop for a few hours. Or maybe work from your porch, backyard, or a nearby park. Changing scenery is a fantastic way to keep your creative process sharp and continue feeling inspired while working as a remote graphic designer.
Take care of your body. Getting in some exercise every day is a great way to release stress and keep you energized and happy while you do work.
7. Take breaks
We aren’t machines. We need breaks. Don’t eat lunch in front of your computer. Don’t talk to a client while you go on your walk. Breaks are critical for staying sharp and maintaining a positive balance.
Have fun! Get away from work and spend some time with friends and family (even if that currently means virtually). Full-time remote jobs can make you lonely. Ensure that you always dedicate time to socialize with other people who lift you up and give you energy.
9. Don’t neglect the business side
We’ve chosen creative professions because that’s where we shine. That’s what we love. But it’s vital to also take care of the not-so-fun parts that come with running a business (particularly if you’re a freelance graphic designer). It’s difficult to stay happy if you run out of work. Make sure you stay focused on each of the following:
- Job Postings: Keep an eye out for new graphic design jobs. Ensuring that you always have clients in the pipeline is a great risk management strategy that will keep your income safe in case you one day lose a client or two (it happens!).
- Building an Online Presence: Social media is an important tool for letting people know you’re a remote graphic designer. Posting on your LinkedIn and/or Instagram profiles and publicizing your portfolio is a great way to gain visibility and ultimately land more clients.
- Getting Referrals: If you create an awesome design and your client is thrilled with the outcome, don’t be afraid to ask for referrals. It’s a lot less work than scanning the Internet for jobs, and a happy client will always recommend you to other people they know.
- Setting Proper Contracts: This article provides great insight into how to create a graphic design retainer contract. It's vital to have your contracts set properly for your business.
10. Say no when necessary
Sometimes too much is too much. Although we’re always excited to take on new projects, make sure you say no when you’ve reached a point that another project does more harm than good. Saying no is okay! An unmanageable workload is a surefire to not be happy as a graphic designer.
Maintaining happiness as a graphic designer
Whether you have a full creative team beneath you or you’re a one-person graphic design show, the key to maintaining happiness is working toward and prioritizing your well-being. Pick and choose the tips that you think will work best for you, and best of luck on your graphic design journey!