A Design Cleanse: Why Every Designer Needs To Do It

Posted on August 18, 2016 | Updated on January 25, 2023

Imagine a fresh start. A design cleanse that leaves your mind free of all the clutter.

I’m not talking about moving to a new city or declaring resolutions for the New Year. And I especially don’t encourage coloring your hair to a fluorescent pink (but if that’s what you enjoy, proceed, my friend).

I mean completely starting over with a new perspective. What if you could go back to your first design class with a completely open mindset?

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Design is constantly evolving, which means it’s important that you evolve with it. You don’t want to be creating designs that went out of style five years ago. A design cleanse can also boost your creativity and put you in a healthier state of mind. Your designs will only benefit from it.

A design cleanse should be mandatory for all designers. There are some vital reasons why you should cleanse your current process.

Eliminate Bad Habits

You may have developed bad design habits over the years. You might not notice these habits because they’ve become a part of your daily process. A cleanse is your chance to get rid of the habits that are holding you back.

You can’t simply drop a bad habit. You have to replace it with another habit. This is your chance to improve as a designer, by adding another element to your work ethic and artistic ability. Aim to eliminate questionable habits you developed when you were just starting out.

Bad habits can be as simple as using outdated software, to something more personal like your daily routine. Learning new software will make you more productive and efficient, and it’ll replace your habit of using something slower. You can also develop a better routine to match your artistic process.

Waking up earlier, eating healthier and exercising more frequently can be habits you develop to improve your design ability.

Influence Creativity

Years and years of the same process might force you into a box. This box consists of your different design styles and techniques that define who you are as a designer.

Creativity is about thinking outside the box.

A design cleanse is perfect for taking your designs to the next level. Instead of falling back on styles that you’ve perfected, a cleanse will cause you to challenge yourself and explore new abilities. You can take the skills you’ve developed through your experience and apply them to new styles.

Work with clients you normally wouldn’t work with. Read design books you normally wouldn’t pick up off the shelf. Learn new styles. Cleansing is all about a fresh start. You can do this by stepping out of your comfort zone and challenging yourself. You’ll become a better designer because of it!

Increase Focus

Part of your design cleanse should involve clearing your mind and opening it to new possibilities. Clearing your mind isn’t a groundbreaking art, but it’ll help you focus and stay motivated to work hard.

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Design has much to do with creative thinking and new ideas, so your cleanse should involve meditation. You don’t have to spend hours perfecting complex meditation — spending 20 to 30 minutes each day with a clear head can do wonders for your mind.

Meditation improves focus and concentration, which are needed in the design world because distractions are everywhere. Sometimes you need an extra boost of focus to complete your work. Meditate to take your designs and productivity to new heights.

Reduce Stress

Deadlines, client expectations and lack of creativity — all of these hindrances can cause stress for a designer. Your design cleanse should help you shift your focus and reduce stress, which will make you more creative.

Stress is a creativity killer, and happier people report higher performance on creative tasks. Meditation, yoga and exercise should be a part of your cleanse because they reduce stress and induce creative thinking.

A design cleanse is exciting because you’re trying new things and learning more about your art. The excitement will make design more fun, which will reduce stress — leaving you to be more creative and produce outstanding designs.

Gain New Perspective

A design cleanse allows you to step away from your work from a while. Go on vacation or take time to relax. When you return, you might have a different perspective, which will help you evolve.

Design that was popular when you started learning might be obsolete today. And perhaps you’ve changed as an artist. It’s important to use life experiences and your current mindset when creating a design.

Talk to other designers, especially younger designers coming out of college. Grasp their perspective, artistic process and what they learned in class. If you’re a new designer, connect with designers who are more experienced. Go to conferences and seminars to meet seasoned professionals in the field. Learning other people’s experiences and perspectives certainly can’t hurt your process.

After the Design Cleanse: Start Fresh

This is your chance to enjoy the fresh start you deserve. Take the time for a design cleanse to improve your design abilities!

About The Author

Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her exploring the outdoors with her husband and dog in their RV, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or curled up with a good book with her cats Gem and Cali.

You can find more of Eleanor's work at www.eleanorhecks.com.

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