— BY REMON — IN Design tips Personal growth

How to beat overthinking as a designer

We’ve all been there, staring at a blank page for hours, trying to perfect every little detail, like font sizes and colour combinations. It’s normal to overthink when making creative decisions, but it can be a frustrating cycle of endless revisions, hesitation, and self-doubt. Remember that while some reflection is helpful, overthinking can hold you back from making progress.

I remember a time when I spent hours agonising over a design concept, tweaking every detail to perfection. But the more I obsessed over it, the further I strayed from my original vision. Overthinking often happens when you fear messing up, being criticised, or failing. But you gotta know that mistakes are bound to happen, especially in the design process. Each mistake is an opportunity for learning and growth, and every time you make changes, you’re getting closer to an even better design. 

Stop pleasing other designers

It’s crazy how we often prioritise pleasing other designers over actually achieving the project’s goals or meeting the needs of our clients/customers. This approach can be a real problem and can ruin the whole design process. When you trust your gut feeling while designing, take some breaks to clear your mind, and focus on the most critical elements aligned with the project’s goals, it can help to make the design process more efficient and smoother. As a designer, I’ve learned that some of my best work comes when I trust my intuition and let go of the need for perfection.

"Perfection is the Enemy of Progress"

Winston Churchill

The first draft of anything is sh*t?

Remember, “The first draft of anything is sh*t?” I keep that in mind every day. I like experimenting and having a little fun rather than getting stuck trying to make everything perfect. When you’re facing a problem, it can be easy to get lost in the details and lose sight of the bigger picture. To overcome this, I’ve found it helpful to take a step back and approach the problem as a journey with twists and turns. Embrace the uncertainty and trust that you’ll find your way. Give yourself the freedom to explore your ideas without self-judgment or criticism.
Did you know designers can succeed without following all the design “rules”? You don’t need to code, use auto layout everywhere, or turn everything into components to make it big in the design world. Just design the most natural way for you, and you’ll be fucking golden!
Let’s shine the light on some heroes of simplicity. Have you ever marvelled at Google’s homepage? It epitomises minimalist design, proving that you don’t need all the bells and whistles to be profoundly impactful. 

What can you do to chill out and make more effective progress in your designs?

Here’s a great tip for your design sessions: Instead of trying to nail the ‘perfect’ layout, set yourself some achievable goals. For example, try sketching out three different layout options in your next session rather than just one. This way, you’ll get your creative juices flowing and keep your design process moving forward.

It’s important to give yourself hard deadlines to stop working on a project. I used to do the same thing when I was in school – I wanted to keep tweaking and improving my work endlessly. However, if you plan to work as a designer, you will have clients and deadlines preventing you from endlessly tinkering with your designs. Learning to work within set time limits is essential, and delivering your best work within those constraints is important. And don’t forget to ask your colleagues or mentors for feedback early on—they can offer some really valuable perspectives that can help you make decisions! Focusing on quantity over quality in the early stages can help jumpstart your creativity and keep your design process moving forward. 

When I’m working on something, I usually do three things:

  1. Get someone else's opinion (because feedback is a gift),
  2. Take a break to clear my head
  3. Look for inspiration.

I’ve learned that overthinking things can do more harm than good. It’s best to start small and work your way up. Sometimes, I still mess up and must get back on track, but that’s okay. It’s crazy how, most of the time, doing “amazing” things is just about doing “basic” things. Success comes from just showing up every day and putting in the work, even when it’s boring.

Hope this helps you with your design work. Happy designing!”

Catch you in the next one,

Author picture

Hi! I'm Remon Leijtens

I hope you got value out of my writing. If I can help in some small way on your design journey I’d love to hear it – comment below, email me or tweet at me.

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  • thank you for writing this article remon, after a hard couple of days at work this is just what I needed. also, I’m so glad to have your newsletter back!

    • Thanks a lot! I’m happy the article helped after your tough days. Let me know if there’s anything else I can help you with!

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