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5 Time Management Tips For Creative Interior Designers

With another unbelievable summer in the books, the back-to-school busyness is upon us. This school year, be more productive than ever by going back to the basics. While it may be elementary, mastering time management is actually one of the most powerful ways to take your interior design business to the next level.

When you’re steeping in creativity, or swimming in admin work, the hours can certainly slip away. So, it’s no wonder that in order to be a savvy interior designer it’s absolutely essential to be mindful of your time. By making just a few minor adjustments to your workflow, you can optimize your time, do more of what you love, and improve your overall work/life balance.

Check out these 5 creative ways that successful interior designers master time management:

1. Assessing The Current State Of Your Time

Okay, first thing’s first. If you’re not quite sure where the time goes, it’s important to gain insight into your time expenditure. To do this, download the HoursTracker app to your phone. It’s free, and the best part is with just a few clicks you can easily upload all of your time from the app right into Design Manager, making it easy to mark billable hours so you don’t miss time or money.

Next, track your time for an entire day. To really gain an honest assessment, track every hour—even if it’s not a conventional task. For example, if you’re having a morning snack, running to client visits, or perusing new design trends on your favorite blogs, every minute counts.

At the end of the day, take a look at your timesheet and ask the hard questions. Where are you spending too much time? What “expenses” do you need to eliminate? And where do you need to add time buffers into your schedule? (In other words, expecting the unexpected like traffic at certain times of day, potential delivery delays, etc.) For a deep cleaning, track your time every day for a whole week and see what patterns arise.

If you enjoy the sound of time tracking, you’ll love The Pomodoro Technique. If not, skip to method #3.


2. The Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is a time tracking method developed in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo, an Italian entrepreneur. The word “pomodoro” is Italian for tomato. Cleverly, Cirillo named the technique after his tomato-shaped kitchen timer, which he used to track his time as a university student. The Pomodoro Technique increases motivation, boosts productivity, and eliminates those pesky distractions. Here’s how it works:

  • Jot down a list of every task you need to accomplish.
  • Grab a kitchen timer or download the Focus Keeper App, which was specifically designed for The Pomodoro Technique.
  • Start the timer. You have 25 minutes to complete your first task. If you complete it, just keep on moving down your list.
  • Once the time is up, take a 5-minute break. You’ve successfully completed your first pomodoro!

You’ll repeat this process three more times. Once you complete four full pomodori (the plural of pomodoro), you earn a longer 15-30 minute break. And there you have it—The Pomodoro Technique. Really, it’s that simple. You can follow this technique over and over again until you complete your list or reach the end of your day.

Why use The Pomodoro Technique? It’s a surefire way to maintain momentum. If distractions pop up at any time during your pomodoro, simply make a note of it in your favorite notebook, and keep on working. Whether you’ve received an email notification or suddenly thought of a brilliant new design idea for one of your clients, just jot it down and flesh it out on your next break. Breaks refresh the mind, so you’re laser-focused when it’s time to work.


3. Time Blocking With Google Calendar and Parkinson’s Law

Looking for the best way to make your task list for those pomodori? Make it a point to sit down each morning when you arrive at your desk and assess the day’s tasks. Open up your favorite notebook, and write down everything you need to do. Then, prioritize the tasks by labeling them A, B, and C level—A being the most difficult/biggest/least favorite tasks and C being the easiest/smallest tasks or the tasks you love to do.

Next, strategically transfer your task list into Google calendar. Structure your day by blocking out every hour. Begin with the biggest, boldest A-level tasks so that you make sure they get done and you don’t procrastinate. All of the smaller tasks will fall neatly into place filling in the holes around those top priorities. The other great thing about Google calendar is that it allows you to import calendar items right into Design Manager to bill your time.

When time blocking, keep in mind Parkinson’s Law. According to Parkinson’s Law, work expands to fill the time you give yourself to complete it. This law applies to everything from estimating the scope of long-term projects to focusing on the nitty gritty details that make up your every day. Experiment with Parkinson’s Law. Give yourself 10-15 minutes less time to do each task, and see how many hours you reclaim. Time adds up.

By blocking out your time, you’re essentially making appointments with yourself. Make it a resolution to honor this time. After all, you’d definitely honor anyone else’s. Respect your time, and it just might change your entire workflow.


4. Taking Care of Yourself

Not only is mastering time management amazing for your interior design business, it’s also helpful for your interiority, and by this, we mean, your holistic health. It’s cyclical. When you take care of yourself, you’re more well rested and full of energy, and you have a clearer mind for managing your time effectively.

The first thing you can do to implement self-care is to establish a morning routine. Morning routines kickstart your day on a sweet and familiar note. They’re especially beneficial for interior designers because they provide the foundation from which the rest of your creative day will flow (before you even step foot into the office).

Design your ideal morning. Perhaps it’s waking up at dawn, meditating, enjoying a cappuccino outside on your beautiful back porch, eating a delicious egg and avocado toast for breakfast, or simply getting ready for the day. Whatever it might be, just make sure to get a good night’s sleep so you can really be present for the solace and serenity each morning brings.

Don’t just start on a sweet note, keep it going! Express gratitude. A great way to do this is by taking stock at the end of each new day via a gratitude journal. Think positively. Even when the going gets tough, it’s a wonder what a positive paradigm shift can accomplish. We love this TED Talk about how to make stress your new best friend. Gratitude and positivity make us happier and more relaxed, and research shows that happy workers are more productive workers.


5. Managing Projects With Software That Was Designed For You

Last but not least, use software that was designed with you in mind. Interior design isn’t just an industry, it’s an art. You don’t just decorate rooms, you create experiences that touch people’s lives years after you’ve gone.

Design Manager optimizes your time by keeping you organized from start to finish. Manage projects, track orders, balance the books, and monitor your inventory all from a single program. We developed Design Manager to provide a beautiful experience for you and your business so you can save time and do more of what you love. Schedule a live demo today.


Lindsay Paoli
Lindsay Paoli
Lindsay is in charge of the Sales and Marketing team at Design Manager and has enjoyed growing the DM company for the past 10 years. In her spare time though, you can find her taking care of her two adorably demanding little rugrats, traveling, enjoying new restaurants or cheering on her beloved Philadelphia sports teams with her friends and family.

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