Designer vs Deadlines – Friend Or A Foe?

Designer vs Deadlines – Friend Or A Foe

Designers, whether graphics or web designers, usually work with deadlines. It’s obvious that every professional wants to finish their work on time. While some of them manage to do so, most of them struggle. In today’s post, I want to share my thoughts on this topic and as result, help you to be more effective, and on time with your designs. I hope to bring you a fresh and healthy perspective on deadlines.



  • There are designers who think deadlines are not good because they put pressure on them and limit their creativity. 
  • However, a reasonable number of graphics, web, and other types of designers believe deadlines are good because they ensure getting the job done on time. 


Who is right? Are deadlines a friend or a foe for designers? Let’s find out. 


The Designer’s Perspective

Design work is all about creativity and innovation. There are hundreds of thousands of designers, and those who stand out from the crowd have excellent creative skills. So, both creativity and innovation are the engines that allow a designer to create new, unique ideas and practical solutions to different problems faced by individuals and companies. 


In fact, 82% of organizations believe a strong connection between creativity and operational excellence is crucial. On the other hand, creativity and deadlines have, let’s say… a complex relationship


For instance, when your boss or client gives you a deadline to finish a logo within 24 hours, and you get the job done, you feel a sense of accomplishment. So, in this case, deadlines may seem appropriate from the designer’s perspective.


However, if your boss has given you just 3 hours to finish the logo and deliver it to the higher management for review, you may not have enough time to finish the work. So, this can hinder your creative thinking. You may also not deliver the work on time. That’s why some designers think the closer the deadline, the less they are open to creative ideas. 

The Designer’s Perspective


Case Studies

Numerous studies have covered the problems faced by designers working under a deadline.


  •  For example, one study found that designers, web developers, software engineers, and others in the IT industry work harder but not as well when they worry about deadlines. The study concluded that this worry can cause stress and stop individuals from thinking creatively. 


  • One of the most famous real-life case studies from recent times where deadlines didn’t exactly pan out, is the release of Cyberpunk 2077. After the commercial success of The Witcher, CD Projekt Red went on with the plan to create another hit. The initial release date was about to be 16 April 2020, then it was delayed to 17 September, later to 19 November. Because of the anticipation and huge pressures, the game finally got released on the 10th of December. Unfortunately, it was apparent to gamers that it was still too soon, as the released game had multiple glitches. Numerous patches and fixes were released afterward. Even with all of these aspects, the game a rating of 3.4 / 5 on Google as we speak. One begs a question – maybe if initial release date was different, things would pan out better?


  • Another case study, “30 Days of Design,” mentions that a designer had to create main brand elements, logos, website graphics, social media graphics, and mobile user interfaces. While the designer had only about a month, he completed the work on time. From the designer’s perspective, not all deadlines are bad. However some deadlines are inappropriate, such as your manager telling you to design a complex logo or user interface within a few hours.

The Deadline’s Perspective

Deadlines are important for various reasons because they help designers plan their work. Not only do deadlines tell you when you need to finish your tasks, but they also help you manage your work and stay productive. 


So in this sense, deadlines are good because:

  • They ensure projects being finished on time 
  • They keep you motivated to finish your design projects, and not put them off
  • They help companies keep growing by ensuring their designs are ready on time


Deadlines Can Keep Designers More Creative

When you have limited time to work and finish a project, such as a logo, web template, or something like WordPress theme design, etc., it makes you think of new and creative solutions. However, this is not easy. 


It requires SMART strategies and good use of time tracking tools — my recommendation in this regard is Memtime. The combination of tested, proven tactics and software makes the job quicker and more efficient. 


For example, you work on a logo design project and have a tight deadline. 


By using appropriate planning combined with a good time tracking app, you can trace back on everything, such as your design tools usage, Google searches related to your projects, exchanging e-mails with clients, and much more. 


By having this data at hand, you can use your time efficiently, meet your deadline, and still have enough time to explore your creative skills. It’s very important to start treating your time as a scarce resource (which it is!), and not give in to distractions.

How To Balance Your Creativity and Deadlines

Well, this is one of the toughest goals to achieve. But this does not mean it’s impossible. What you need to do, is:


  • Develop routines that align and support your projects or design work 
  • Prioritize and manage your tasks effectively – control your workload 
  • Designers use keyboards a lot of time – so learn the shortcut keys 
  • Don’t spend hours reviewing your designs – instead, spend a few minutes (of course, this one depends on what type of design project you are working on)
  • Don’t delve too much into your work, and always take regular breaks to refresh your mind. Surely, this will boost your creativity. 
  • Make a plan and use time management software of your choice to meet your deadline without hassle.


Final Words About Designers vs Deadlines

Deadlines are good and bad. They are good if they are reasonable enough and align with the tasks you are carrying out. On the other hand, they are bad if the work is too much and you have too little time. 


So, deadlines are neither your friends nor foes – they are just deadlines. It depends on how you look at and analyze them and how you leverage them. Make sure they’re reasonable, and you are not wasting your time. This is a surefire way to „heal” your relationship with deadlines, and maybe even finally make them your ally 😉


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Designer vs Deadlines

If you found this post useful you might like to read these post about Graphic Design Inspiration.


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