Why You Should Let Your Project Cool Off Before You Turn It in

Before you really dive into this article do me a favor. Open up your freelancing weapon of choice, whether it be a writing, designing, or development program. Go ahead, get it going (if it’s not already running in the background) and open up a recent or current project. I’ll wait…

Okay, now quickly hit the save button then open up your e-mail and fire off whatever work you have completed so far to yourself. Don’t stop. Don’t check your work. Just e-mail whatever you have so far. Please enjoy this process as much as you can, because if I have anything to do with it this will be the last time you ever get a chance to… ever!

Is this process a familiar one to you? Is this how you deliver projects to a client? If it is, then quit it! Stop it right now!

Look, I understand where you are coming from. You want to get your finished comps and final products out the door and to your clients as soon as possible, right? As a freelancer, it builds up your rep to have a quick turnaround. A quick turnaround is a great thing right? You get paid faster, clients get happy faster and life gets better faster!

Well, fast turnaround may not be as great as you think it is. Moving too fast can be a detriment to your reputation and your work, but maybe not entirely in the way you might think. In this post, I’ll explain the dangers of turning your work in too quickly.

The Two-Day Rule

For all of my design work I have a set rule for a project that reaches the finish line. That rule is to stop work and do nothing for two days. You don’t have to completely stop doing everything but do not, I repeat, DO NOT send this project off, work on this project, open the folder for this project, or even think about this project. Preferably the break time is two full days, but at least stop working on it for one day if you can’t do that.

Following the two-day rule will improve the quality of your output tremendously (and you don’t even have to put much effort into it).


As a professional you should always pass all of your work by your biggest critic first, which should be yourself. Unfortunately, you won’t always have the best project perspective looking from the inside out. In case you haven’t guessed it yet the worst time to critique your own project is right after you finish it. Bringing a finished product back up after two days of not thinking about it can provide a surprisingly fresh perspective.

Now, I know how stubborn you are and how difficult it can be to take the advice of others because even though you have been told to forget about this project for a few days I know you are going to keep working over the details of it in your head. You may do this intentionally or you may think about it subconsciously because even while you sleep your brain works over these problems for you. (Thanks brain!)

After Two Days…

Okay, you’ve behaved and not touched your project for two days… now what?

It’s been a few days now. You have now pretty much completely forgotten there even was a project. (Just kidding, please don’t really forget about the project.) What’s next?

Fire that bad boy (your freelancing tool) back up and let the sparks fly!

Do you have the feeling of “Oh project, I’ve missed you so much! Our time apart has only made you more beautiful?” Or, is your feeling more like “Oh project, our time apart has only made me realize that I just can’t handle your flaws?”

Just like magic your first reaction tells you that this is a good looking project and after maybe a tweak here and there it’s ready for feedback. Or, your reaction may tell you that you have a lot of upgrades you want to try. Either way you can now have confidence that you are producing your best work.

What’s the Point?

The point is to make sure that everything you produce is always top notch and as the talent behind it you can deliver with pride. Taking the time to step back and really review your work keeps you on top of your game and will prevent you from passing on something you aren’t entirely proud of.

This practice isn’t just to boost your own self-confidence either. Your confidence will be apparent to your clients when you make a presentation knowing that you are offering the best solution possible your clients will believe you.

Share Your Thoughts and Ideas

Have you tried this method before? How else do you go about making sure that the work you produce is always top notch?

Image by spree2010