First off id like to say that this blog entry pertains specifically to design but I do believe these principles apply to many (if not all) aspects of life.
When faced with huge tasks, effective use of your time is critical. Its probably the deciding factor of whether or not a project turns out amazing or just average. Effective designers usually have a system they follow and these systems allow you to follow a routine with your workflow. What's great about having a routine is that it takes the guesswork out of the process and allows you to free your mind up to concentrate on being creative.
Without any question the place where I developed my understanding of the importance of this concept was while working at snowboarder magazine. Here we had a small crew that consisted of a photo editor, two editors, copy writer, and an art director. it allowed us to move quickly and make our own decisions but there was no room or time for mistakes. each month we delivered a 200 page book (magazine). The only way were able to achieve this was through strict teamwork and effective use of time.
The term effective is very critical here. To be effective you need to measure twice and cut once. Get the best photos on the page, place them so they have the most impact, then set the type around them. Photos create the visual impact so they take priority over the words. Once you have the items in place and the type is set.......bring in some design elements, align everything and hit save. Now move on.
Move on? thats right. this is what being effective is about. Don't tinker with it. The fact is - the page has its pictures in place and the type is set with a basic design underway. So basically the article is 90% done. At this point you should hit save and move on to the next article. This way you can get more pages out the door and as you get closer to your deadline you can gauge how much time you have left go back and hone your designs. Once you have a great deal of the articles assembled and saved it frees up your mind up to come up with cool colors schemes or layout styles knowing the nuts and bolts of the project are in place. I cant tell you how much time this system saves and it allows you to produce great work at a fast pace.
Earlier on I mentioned that these principles can be applied to many (if not all ) aspects of life. Take golf for example, every exceptional golfer has a rock solid and identical pre shot routine. It takes the guesswork out of preparing for the shot and frees up your mind to focus on the task at hand which in this case is making a great shot. This applies to personal habits as well. your morning routine if its evolved enough becomes automatic allowing you to plan for the day rather than dig around for your keys. The concept is a simple one but I strongly believe that having a routine is the key to being effective.