My 7 Graphic Design Must-Haves! - Paper Lime Creative
My 7 Graphic Design Must-Haves!
Write By: Katie Dooley

These 7 Things Get Me Through the Day!

In my opinion, being a graphic designer is the best job in the world! However, it uses a lot of brainpower. There are some days I’m mentally exhausted. These graphic design must-have items make my days much easier to get through.

I have figured out a few hacks over the years that make my days easier. It’s very important to me that I maximize my creativity to get my branding clients the best results.

I’ve put a lot of time and trial and error into figuring out what works best for my brain to be the best graphic designer I can be.  What are some of your favourite things that get you through your day?

These are the 7 things I need to get through my workday!


The Things I Can’t Live Without

5 am Wake Ups

This one took some convincing but I love waking up at 5 am. This is a relatively new one for me, I’ve only done it for a couple of months but it has been a game-changer. Before, my alarm was set for 5:30 and I would hit snooze until 6 am or later. 

A good friend told me that she experimented with her wake-up times until she found what time gave her the most energy. When she told me to try earlier, I was skeptical. I could never get up at 5:30 so why would 5:00 be easier? 

To my surprise, I tried it and it made a huge difference! Now, I hit snooze once and I get up with more energy than before. I get to work in my office by 6:30 and those quiet, uninterrupted hours in the morning are when I get my best work done.


My Verilux SAD Light

I live in Edmonton, Canada. Let’s be real, it’s dark most of the year, especially at 6:30 in the morning. It can be really difficult going to work when it’s still dark, especially when it’s going to be dark for another two or three hours. I’m always affected by the long winter nights and it makes me super tired all the time.

I attribute it to being a summer baby. I came into this world when nights were long and warm. I had read about SAD lights and, again, I was a bit skeptical. 

If you want to try a SAD light, I highly recommend giving it at least two weeks of consistent use. You might not notice the change because it’s quite gradual, but once you stop using it after two weeks you will see a difference!

Having a SAD light is that little extra boost I need to start my workday and feel like a normal person during our cold and dark winters.


My Passion Planner

I have been using a Passion Planner for over 5 years. I love pen and paper planning. I’ve never really been into my phone calendar. Writing things down, colour coding them, and checking items off my to-do list keeps me motivated!

I find when I can see a week or a month laid out all at once I can see trends in how I use my time. I also really enjoy blocking off personal time. If I put a big sticker on a day then I know not to book anything for myself. Downtime is just as important as work time!

The Passion Planner is my favourite planner because it has everything needed to schedule effectively. It also includes goal setting and tracking, which as a goal-oriented business owner is a huge bonus! 

The full 7-day week schedule always seems hard to find where either the weekend isn’t included at all or they don’t have as much space. I don’t know about you, but I play as hard on weekends as I work on weekdays. 

Paigepaige is my number one graphic design must have

Oh Paige, my Barketing Manager. I mean, she’s not much help when it comes to the work, but she keeps me company and makes sure I get up for regular breaks — and I think that counts for something. 

Also, she’s just so darn cute. 



Technically no one can live without water… so maybe this one is a moot point, but I was the WORST at drinking water. Like… hardly any at all during the day and now I’ve gotten on the 8 glasses a day train. 

Having a pretty or motivational water bottle on my desk always makes me happy. I’ve also gotten into leaving bottles of water as well. Sometimes I get so into work that I don’t think to get up for a refill, having a couple of bottles in the office makes refilling easy!

Drinking more water keeps my mind sharp and I have better focus throughout the day. Who would’ve thought? Plants. That’s who.


Zebra Mildliner Pens

If you love stationery then these pens are for you. They’re like a highlighter… but mild. They come in tons of colours and have a beautiful finish. 

I use these pens in my Passion Planner when I do my scheduling every week. Of course, I create a colour theme for the week! Colour coding makes my brain happy and encourages me to keep organized.

I have found a huge difference between weeks that I put time into my Passion Planner and weeks that I forget or run out of time. I benefit from the weekly sit-down that makes my planner pretty. 


Pantone Books

On the topic of colour, Pantone Books! Minus my laptop, my Pantone books are probably my number one graphic design tool. 

With most graphics created digitally these days, you don’t need a lot of tools to be a graphic designer. Colour is one thing that inspires me and I love flipping through my Pantone books to find the perfect shade for a client. 

Pantone books also help with colour accuracy and so these books are an important step in our branding process as well. 


As for the thing I could live without…

What Can I Live Without?

My cell phone!

I do not have my cell phone in my office until noon every single day. Cell phones are a huge distraction, even when they’re on silent and face down. If it’s there it’s a reminder that maybe someone has contacted you, maybe there’s a notification waiting, maybe someone needs something on Instagram, or maybe you can squeeze in one more level of Candy Crush. 

The first week of not having my cell phone in my office was tough. I was so worried that I would miss something important, but honestly, if it’s important they’ll phone (and my computer rings when my phone does!) and I can tackle any design emergencies as they come. Working without distraction allows me to give my full attention to my clients, and they deserve the best from me.

I also took the plunge this year and deleted all my cell phone games off my phone and some of my social media apps as well. This has greatly reduced the time I spend staring at my phone — there’s not much to do on it, to be honest, unless someone has called or texted me. 

This year, I’ve dedicated one day per month as a “screen-free Saturday” which means no screen time at all! No computer, no TV and no cell phone (again unless you’re phoning me!) This is important for your brain to process everything it has absorbed. 

People often are most creative when they’re bored on their brain is on autopilot (driving, walking the dog, showering, about to fall asleep, etc). I find my screen-free days are boring, but I get a lot of things done that I normally wouldn’t and it forces me to go through my thoughts, which I find very valuable.

Is there anything in your world you would rather live without?

Perhaps you would like to live without the stress of creating your business brand! If you want a graphic designer that dedicates her full attention to your brand then book a consultation call with us today!