Design Business Blueprint: a designer’s most precious commodity, time

Welcome to the January edition of Design Business Blueprint, your monthly guide to helping you navigate running your design business. Hopefully, you heeded my advice and took some time off during the holidays to rest and recharge. As we kick off the new year, now is the perfect time to reflect on the most precious resource in your professional toolkit – time. In order to run a design business (or any business, for that matter), effective time management is a strategic necessity.

The Currency of the Clock

Whether you’re a seasoned professional or just starting your own design venture, the hours in a day remain constant. How you choose to invest those hours, however, can make all the difference in the growth and success of your business. 

Consider your time as currency. Each minute is an investment, and, much like financial resources, once spent, it’s gone. Unlike money, though, you can’t earn more time. Recognizing the inherent value of your time is the first step towards managing it effectively.

The High Value of Time for Designers

In our industry, time is not just money; it’s the lifeblood of your creative process, client relationships, and overall business success. Every moment you spend on non-essential tasks or inefficient processes is a missed opportunity to enhance your designs, nurture client connections, and attract new business.

To fortify and grow your interior design business, consider these time management strategies that can help you get ahead and stay ahead, leaving you with the time you need to achieve your goals. 

1. Craft a Master Calendar

Design your time, just as you would a room. Create a master calendar that outlines your projects, client meetings, and personal commitments. Break down large projects into manageable tasks and allocate specific time blocks for each. Leave breathing room between tasks. Things often take longer than we except, so if you book yourself solid, you’ll wind up falling behind and struggle to catch up. A visual roadmap with breaks provides clarity, helping you prioritize and stay focused.

Invest in a digital calendar tool with reminders to keep you on track. And you don’t actually need to invest money in these. There are countless free digital calendars out there to help keep you organized. Invest your time in learning to operate out of a digital calendar. Technology can be a powerful ally in managing your schedule, allowing you to sync appointments, set deadlines, and receive notifications. This simple yet effective step ensures you never miss a deadline or overlook a crucial client meeting.

2. Out with Procrastination

So you’ve composed and polished up a beautiful calendar with everything you (and your team) need to do today, this week, this month, etc. But now you must stick to it! Procrastination is so last year. Stay on task and don’t let the little things distract you. Put your phone on “do-not-disturb” if that helps you stay focused. Commit yourself to holding true to your calendar and you’ll soon see how much more efficient your business and your life are running. 

3. Remember to Delegate

As an interior designer, you are the visionary, the creative force that gives life to spaces. Recognize that not every task requires your personal touch. Delegating routine and time-consuming tasks to competent team members or outsourcing to specialists can free up your schedule for high-impact activities. By entrusting certain responsibilities to others, you create the mental space needed for your creative genius to flourish, and leave yourself with more of that valuable currency we’re talking about…time!

4. Know When to Say No

We’ve touched upon this topic in the past, but it bears repeating. Saying yes to every opportunity that comes your way may seem like a path to success, but it can lead to burnout and diluted focus. Learn to say no graciously and strategically. Assess each request or project against your overarching goals and priorities.

When you say no to the projects that don’t align with your vision or overcommitting to tasks beyond your capacity, you create the space needed for quality work and sustained creativity. A selective approach not only preserves your time but also enhances the value you bring to the projects you do decide to undertake.

See Also

5. Technology is Your Friend

Technology offers a plethora of tools designed to streamline tasks and enhance productivity, and there’s so much of that in our industry! From project management apps to virtual design software, explore the apps and programs available to find solutions that align with your specific business needs. For instance, consider adopting project management tools that allow seamless collaboration with your clients and team members. Cloud-based platforms enable real-time updates and communication, reducing the need for lengthy email exchanges and ensuring everyone stays on the same page. This, itself, will be a time commitment to find the right tool, to learn it, and to implement it. But if you invest in this process up front, you’ll quickly see how much time you’re gaining back in the long term. 

Continue Learning and Improving

Time management is a skill that evolves with experience. It’s one of the reasons I chose to write about it at the start of the new year. Regularly evaluate your processes and identify areas for improvement. Take the time to do this now! There are a handful of design trade markets happening this month, so take advantage! Attend workshops, read industry literature, and seek mentorship to gain insights into efficient time management strategies employed by successful designers.

Investing time in learning about the latest trends, tools, and methodologies can yield long-term benefits, enhancing your efficiency and effectiveness as a designer. Remember, staying ahead of the curve allows you to adapt to industry changes without compromising the quality of your work.
On that note, if you’ll be in Dallas this week for the Total Home & Gift Show, Lightovation, and the ARTS Awards, be sure to attend this informative panel discussion aptly entitled “Finger on the Pulse: Designing for Tomorrow”, moderated by DNN’s own Courtney Porter, with panelists Robin Baron, Patti Carpenter, and Dann Foley. RSVP to attend!

As we embark on a new year filled with possibilities, remember that mastering the art of time management is one very important key to unlocking your full potential as an interior designer. Your time is the foundation upon which your business thrives. By delegating wisely, crafting a master calendar, learning to say no, embracing technology, and committing to continuous improvement, you’ll not only safeguard your most precious resource but also elevate your design business to new heights. Work smarter, not harder, and let 2024 be the year you redefine success.

About Design Business Blueprint

Design Business Blueprint is a Design News Now exclusive monthly column written by Yudi Kaufman of YKD Associates. Yudi is a multifaceted business strategist, entrepreneur, and creative, who brings years of experience navigating the home furnishings and interior design industry from the inside out. He has a background in interior design, furniture design, sustainability, e-commerce, business management, human resources, accounting, marketing, and public speaking. Yudi holds a Master’s degree in Sustainable Interior Environments from New York’s FIT – Fashion Institute of Technology. A true left-and-right-brainer! Check back each month for more business tips and follow @ykdassociates on Instagram.

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