A Simple Strategy to Avoid Burnout as a Graphic Designer

As you know, running a design business, or any service-based business can be overwhelmingly busy at times and painfully slow at other times. Even when we do our best to plan for smooth sailing, there are inevitably some surprises in the ebb and flow. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to see into the future, know what's coming, and balance out your workload? Here’s one simple strategy that helps us do just that.

Here at times2studio, we've experienced the common feast-or-famine cycle many times. Finally, enough was enough, and we decided to take control of our workload so we could avoid feeling burned out, overworked, and actually get our evenings and weekends back.

As a designer, wouldn’t it be great to have a glimpse into the future to see what projects are headed our way?

The idea is simple: check-in with clients who may need recurring projects so we can anticipate farther in advance and plan accordingly.

Here's the simple process:

At the start of each year, we create a list or calendar of ALL projects we did during the previous year.

Then, we reach out to each client with a simple email (for example, maybe we designed an annual newsletter last June, so it's likely this client will need one this year as well.) 

We make sure to contact clients with plenty of lead-time (we do this about once per quarter in planning for the next quarter) so they have the time to think about their needs, the flexibility to prepare content and secure funding, and so we have time to comfortably plan the project and avoid rushing.

The emails we send come from a place of service and help (without being pushy or sales-y), simply a friendly note inviting the client to schedule a project. If they would like to utilize us again for this project, great! If not, no biggie—it’s still a great opportunity to check in with our client anyway and find out how they’re doing.

In our experience, clients appreciate the check-in since they are busy with many things and may not have that potential project on their radar yet at all. It’s also helpful to them to get a little heads up so they’re not scrambling to get the project done at the last minute. The result for us as the designer is two-fold: a project schedule that's more easily booked out AND a more balanced workload (no more peaks and valleys). When you can see what's already on your schedule, it's so much easier to say 'no' to projects or try to schedule them after other projects. This practice has definitely helped us create a workload that is more balanced and predictable, making projects way more fun too. Give it a try, won’t you? What other workload-balancing strategies do you use?

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