How to Build Portfolio Projects With Speed and In Time

Lekan Olad
Photo by VanveenJF on Unsplash

In a relatively short period, you can build up an attractive portfolio with completed projects whether you are an interior designer, software engineer or graphic designer. The importance of having a portfolio as a freelancer or a full-timer cannot be underestimated, you have to be aware that everything you worked on or currently working on can’t be added to your portfolio, that’s why thoughtfully planning how to build your portfolio gives you high chances towards whatever you are aiming at becoming in the coming years. The steps bellow helped me in completing over 5 projects in less than a year.

1st is to Plan to Plan and Plan!!!

I cannot overemphasise this enough. Everyone out there is telling you to do this and do that even worst your internal self is screaming at you to get somethings done as fast as possible. But I want you to pause and think for a while then ask your self why most of your works never get out there. I need you to go back to the root, get all the uncompleted projects you have done, write down everything that stopped you from completing and publishing them. This is where you begin if you want to build a portfolio.

Identify your set backs.

If you can’t pinpoint what’s slowing you down or why you have failed to deliver on your previous projects, then you might fail again. Reviewing all your possible setbacks and their causes will help you immensely in forging ahead.
One of my setbacks was over-saturating my projects with ideas which in turn led to longer execution and completion time.

Draft out possible solutions to them

You have to come up with a solution to each problem you have highlighted. Mind you, solutions don’t just pop up that easily. So if you are having a hard time figuring out how to conquer one of the problems you have highlighted, then you might as well go do some research and studies about it, this will enable you to discover solutions and guide you in the right direction when working on your next project. As for me, I was able to learn the difference between an MVP (minimum viable product) and a full-blown feature project that aims to do everything.

Think on the go and stay alert

I do this a-lot when heading out I keep some part of my mind chewing on solutions to challenges I am currently facing. You might never know when that eureka moment will hit you. That’s why staying alert is so crucial when it comes so you can grab it.

Start With Small Projects And Build Upwards

Once you have gotten the right idea you are willing to pursue it, and you have your plan well-drafted out, the next thing you have to do is prune out the ideas and all other heavy-duty complex stuff that will cripple you during execution or creation phase.

If you want to start a shirt printing design business and you are looking at custom full colour illustrations, then you might find it difficult to create these illustrations yourself in a short time. Why don’t you start with custom text only designs you can do just in time.

Rethink your previous projects & complete them by streamlining it.

I believe most people have gone through this phase of starting a project and halfway into it, you discover that what you spent the last couple of months working on had no place in the market or its too complicated or your motivation for the project has fizzled out.
So instead of tossing it into the “I will come back to finish it” trash can (which that day may never come). You can as well go back to the planning phase and cut out lots of redundancy and head straight to finishing the main part need for functionality and make sure you to get it out there in time.

Use the MVP way to kick start new project

If you want to start a new project you have to understand what MVP truly means. A lot of people still miss the concept of minimum viable product.
A minimum viable product (MVP) is a product with just enough features to satisfy early customers and provide feedback for future product development.
Your portfolio needs to consist of products/projects that have working functionalities and can stand short development time. You can read more about implementing MVP here

You need to Be On Time & Stay On Time

You might have heard of the quote “A Second Too Late, You Miss It”. This means that you have to be spot on with you timing at every time on your project. The moment a project begins to drag beyond the time allocated to it then there is a high chance your motivation level begins to drop with it.

Set up project milestones

This one, I do on all my projects, regardless of how small the nature of the project could be. I make sure I break it down into the different units over a particular period of which I am confident of finishing it.

Once I have an article to write, I split the introduction, main body, image gathering, link sourcing & conclusion into different timelines. This will help me achieving results and satisfy me in turn with motivation as I complete each unit.

Identify & minimise time suckers

Suckers are everywhere, both virtually or physically. It could be friends and family. You have to create time for them and work separately and let them know when you are busy.
It might be difficult at first to let a lot of activities fighting for you to go, that’s why I used the word minimise. After, you can learn how to kill timer suckers completely.

Limit the time sucker called social media

I don’t have to say this, but seriously it’s time to let go. Download apps or use apple screen time to check and cut down the time you spend on those social apps. Those trending topics most time have no good use to you, so why bother about them as if your life depends on them.

Use Social Media To Tell Stories.

Don’t just be a consumer of a truckload of content. Change your goal to become the person whose content, people want to consume. Don’t chase followers just by tagging along, grow passionate fans and people who crave for your work.

Don’t neglect the power of your peak time.

A lot of people might not agree with me on this. But your brain has more focus at night because of the calmness and peace associated with it. Most importantly you have to find whether you are a day person or a night person. At what time does your productivity peak the most? If you have not figured that out, please start logging the time of your working spree everyday and take notice of the things you do before and after.
Check this link for more info about day or night study periods

Start today for the next 365 days

Hey! I know what you are thinking. I will start next week or next month. That’s a pit you are about to fall into.

If you don’t act on an idea in first 24 hours. You might loose the potential to execute it and make it a reality.

I make sure a day does not pass without reviewing my goals and putting myself on a check to know if I am still on track or not.
Note that I am not expecting you to work every day just because you want to feel like a machine but make sure each day counts towards all your project you are executing.

Make sure each project has a deadline date to it

It doesn’t matter if you are working on your project or client work. Make sure you have your time (be it days, weeks or months) you have set to complete and deliver the project.
I have worked on a personal project where I felt that I didn’t need to rush it, I worked on that project for more than a year, and never released it out to the public because a deadline was never set.

Form a partnership

Don’t be a lone ranger, I repeat do not be a lone ranger! Most people who are super achievers did not start alone, they had Paul Allen, Steve Wozniak, Sergey Brin & Julia Hartz.

It is also possible to achieve excellent results alone, but it can take a longer time to get there.

That’s why I recommend leaving home and networking more to meet like minds. The people you meet and connect with will help shape, build & produce your idea faster. No matter what you know someone has the icing to make your cake super beautiful.

Don’t be scared to share your ideas or project you are working on with someone, just make sure you are comfortable around them.

Most people love team players, people will love to work with you once they can see you have experience working with others and it has a spice of success in it.


Abide by the following

Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash

Time is money

Time is a valuable resource, and therefore, it is better to do things as quickly as possible.

Nothing is perfect

Please cut out the perfectionist attitude. Most big corporations today had basic products at launch. Their current product(s) was built over time (I mean years) with lots of mistakes and learning along the way. So don’t try to be Amazon or Facebook instantly, You will fail!.

Automation is key to reduce redundancies

If you allow redundancies, it will cost you a lot, so I will encourage you to automate a repeated task in any way possible.

Always set an achievable commitment for your self

Don’t rush your self into things. You have to plan carefully and give your self challenges that can be achieved. This will make you sit up and face challenges without fear because you have made them incremental.

Set a penalty for missing out on commitment

Seriously I should not add this. But we all need discipline. All I am saying is to make sure you feel sorry for not giving everything you have got to achieve what you have committed yourself to. But don’t let failure get to you when you are down, so pick yourself up and move on to the next agenda.

Slow down and Rest (Sleep is crucial)

Sleep is essential to health, family time is also needed. Also, make sure you build relationships along the way. It’s what makes us human after all.

Finally: It’s never over until you complete projects

Don’t back down ever, even when you are wining, keep pressing the pedals, go full throttle and have breaks in between too. When you fail to complete a project, it’s not over yet, so get yourself up and step on the accelerator again and continue moving.

You can build cool projects using the guides above. Just make sure you get them out there, the world can’t wait to see those cool ideas you got in your head.

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Lekan Olad

Written by

A coder by day, game designer by night, philosopher to be.

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