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Interesting Things Designers Can Do With Extra Time

on Freelance Design

A little R&R can go a long way to refresh the body and fill your mind with all the great ideas you need for creative success. In this article, Divya Rawat shares a series of things you can do during your off time to keep yourself productive, energized, and up to date!

A designer friend with a creative block was amazed at how just a little time-out helped her rejuvenate and get her creative juices flowing.

She’s one of those few lucky designers whose designs have found acclaim among the industry stalwarts, and so she can can afford to go on a well deserved vacation. Not everyone is that lucky though. Whether you work on your own time as a freelance designer or juggling a 9 to 5 design job (sticking to a time frame is rare in this field), it’s hard to combine both relaxing and making a decent living.

The free time that you have can be utilized as per your schedule – long or short, busy or sparse, freelance or hired. A web designer’s time out can be well spent on learning new tricks of the trade, reorganizing the schedule and finances, upgrading the system, downloading tutorials or simply getting in touch with old clients.

A more leisurely pace would entail a long vacation either within the local precincts or a World tour, organizing an exhibition for your past photos or paintings, or catching up with family and friends, or simply clocking in some quality snooze time.

You decide to take a break, but are simply at your wits end as to how to spend your spare time. The monotony has driven you up the wall and the sudden break is making you jittery, as you’ve become used to the workload. Don’t fret. I’ve compiled a list of interesting things to do in your spare time.

Image Source: Free Time Concept Clock via Shutterstock.

You can act on any or all of these suggestions. Your choice must depend on the time on your hands. And yes, please do add your own favorite time-out suggestions in the comments below!

Let’s begin with activities that refresh your mind:

1. Read Books on Great Designs

An important aspect of awesome designs is reading books, magazines, and blogs about the greatest designs ever. It helps you identify inspiring designs and what the trends in designing are. And of course, you might just learn new tricks while reading. is always good start to find your new favorite website design book!

2. Write Blog Posts/Articles for Design Blogs/Magazines

By contributing to blogs and magazines in the form of articles not only are you sharing your ideas, but you’re ensuring that you aren’t stuck in a rut. Writing will allow an information sharing platform wherein you can disperse advice to the upcoming designers and you are able to participate in healthy discussions with your fellow and senior web designers.

3. Enroll in a Workshop

Web design is a field that is constantly changing. It is important to keep enhancing your skills to beat the competition. Enroll in workshops, either of your own or with sponsorship from your company. Workshops offer a chance to learn new skills; modules or software development insights which will help you take your web designing skills to the next level.

Remember, there’s always room for improvement.

4. Watch Online Tutorials

If time is a constraint, you can opt for online tutorials in order to learn new skills for your web designing activities.

5. Stay Updated with Industry News

Subscribe to newspapers or magazines that offer insights, analysis and news about the happenings in the web development industry. In case you participate in a forum or discuss with a client about certain aspects, you have the confidence to provide the best as you know what works and what does not based on the existing scenario.

6. Experiment with New Designs

Learning never stops. A designer who believes that he knows everything is at a risk of repetitive designs. Come out of your comfort zone and apply your newly acquired skills to create mind boggling designs. If software upgrades are a problem, opt for systems that support it like Content Management System. Your creative and original ideas will certainly find takers as it will have the capability to stand out in the crowd.

7. Design and Host your own Website

For freelance designers, it is vital to design and host your own website to attract clients. However, for designers who are working for a company or firm, it is sometimes difficult to host a site due to some constraints stated in the company’s contract. However, in order to showcase your independent creations, it’s imperative to host your website so that people know your work as an individual designer, which might affect the way your firm is approached to design the client’s website. It will help you carve your identity among a host of co-designers in the company.

8. Remove Clutter

A clean environment inspires happy thoughts, be it at work or home. Keep your workplace clean and tidy to avoid distractions, especially when you have a deadline to keep. De – clutter your space and get organized to find the things you need at one go.

For instance you might want to sketch an idea on a piece of paper instead of using the computer. If you are not organized you will waste precious time seeking out a pencil and paper. And by the time you find it, that fleeting idea is forgotten. A clutter free environment also includes your computer. Delete or archive as the case may be on a regular basis to avoid unnecessary confusion, when you are in a hurry. Become organized. Free time is best utilized in de-cluttering.

9. Laze Around

Your gray matter needs to take a break from the constant deluge of information and creative ideas. An overload would lead to a complete breakdown. Hence let go and relax. Just laze around. Reconnect with nature. You might get inspired with what you see.

10. Give Time to Family and Friends

Breaks allow you to re-strengthen your bond with family and friends. If you have children take time out to play with them as they allow you to see things in different perspective. Take your spouse out to dinner, movies or hiking. Family and friends (even pets) keep you grounded. They are an important support system that offers the necessary distractions – away from the tedious work load.

11. Build Relations

This point can be tied to the previous one except that you can add your professional relations to your list. When you are on time out you can interact with your past clients and network on social sites (linkedin and facebook are good to start) with fellow designers. You can even throw a party for your colleagues and friends to show them that you are a person with a positive attitude. This also helps to iron out differences with colleagues in a more relaxed environment.

12. Travel the World if Possible

As designers, you need to understand what makes the world go (a)round! You might have clients overseas with local interests. Planning a trip to the client’s place will ensure that you balance work and pleasure. You will get a better insight about what makes the local populace tick and incorporate the same in your web designing.

13. Get Involved With Social Causes

Everyone has a pet cause, but debating how the world can become a better place won’t make further any cause. You need to chart actionable goals. By associating with a community, NGO or any such social organization, you are doing your bit for the cause in a proactive manner rather than showing a passive attitude.

14. Pursue another Hobby

Not unlike great designers, you might have made your hobby your profession. There are other passions which creative people are blessed with. Why waste your talent only on doing things for others and financial rewards? Indulge your other hobbies such as photography or painting/sketching or any such. This will ensure that you are in touch with your true self. You will end up making yourself happy, which is one important ingredient for success. Go ahead, if you have a collection of original photos or oil paintings etc hold an exhibition. This might even earn you good clients, as exhibitions are a great way to network with related industry people.

15. Learn a New Activity/Skill

Being a designer does not entail spending your free time only in activities that involve creativity. In fact a physical activity will remove the harmful effects caused due to putting in long hours at the computer. Learn how to swim, play basketball, football, rugby etc.

If strenuous activity is not your cup of tea, learn how to play a musical instrument. Or learn how to sing! Research indicates that learning new skills ensures that the brain remains active even as you grow older. A designer has to stay updated to attract business and lounging around is not going to help.

The list of recreational activities doesn’t end there. There are innumerable things designers can do in their free time like listening to music, boating, fishing, going on a gastronomical trip….anything that comes to your mind.

Expand the list as per your wishes and take that well deserved break!