Business folks these days are obsessed with the concept of productivity. I see articles all the time explaining what bizarre habits we should form, what traits we should cultivate, and what tools we need in our lives to become hyper-productive in our careers and lives.

We’re no stranger to the idea at Oregon—in fact, productivity is constantly on our minds. We use highly specialized machinery that must be used in a particular sequence. When we’re juggling multiple jobs (and we always are), we have to carefully plan what goes where, who it’s for, what they need, and when they need it by.

I’d love to tell you that we spend every minute of our time putting ink on paper. But it isn’t the case. The truth is, we often get tied up in tedious, back-end tasks—ones that could actually be better handled by others.

Productivity in print doesn’t have to be complicated or rely on fad science. Want to see faster turnaround times, pay lower prices, and make your printer very happy? There’s no ‘hack’ or secret to it. Here’s what you need to know.

Send print-ready PDFs.

You might think it’s best to send a printer an InDesign file, so that we can make changes as needed. But it’s actually easiest if we receive a finished file in PDF format. First, we run a PDF workflow, so everything will be converted to PDF anyway. Secondly, its better we don’t have tweak specifications or risk unwanted changes to your final product. A print-ready PDF should be embedded with complete fonts and graphics, have a specified color space (usually CMYK, 1-color or name specific spot colors), and include a one-eighth-inch bleed.

Don’t worry about creating printer’s spreads for books or bound pieces.

Once upon a time, we needed files for books in “reader spreads” to proof, and a “Printer spreads” to print. For those too young to remember, this meant matching page 1 with page 16, page 2 with page 15, and so on—or in other groupings for other types of binding. Many designers and publishers are still in the habit of doing this, even though the process can be tedious and confusing.

Good news! You don’t have to. Our imposition software can ‘read’ pages designed in single-page format and lay them out correctly. It can also add the proper gutter and spacing to pages based on your chosen binding type. Reader-spread files, on the other hand, take time to deconstruct, so you’ll save time if you send us pages in order from the start.

Keep paper choices simple.

Years ago, there were many paper vendors that carried countless options for specialty paper. Industry-wide consolidation has changed that, though, and now choices are slimmer. Ordering specialty papers is more costly than it used to be.

We recommend talking with your printer before you choose paper for a new project. Confirm that the paper you’ve chosen is indeed printable, and ask if there’s a lower-cost option that would give you a similar look. Often, when we purchase specialty paper, we have to order a whole carton, even if we only need a small amount—and we have to pass that cost on.

We’ll also have to spend time waiting for paper to arrive, delaying your turnaround time. The way we see it, great design sets print projects apart, not so much fancy paper any more. So invest in one, and save on the other.

Matching time to clients’ needs

Time-consuming tasks like these stand in the way of what we do best: creating great print products for our clients. Follow these steps, and you’ll get a basic job through our shop quicker.

Of course, not every client has quick turnaround as a top priority. If you need to build a brochure from the ground up or launch a direct mail campaign, we can help. And we’ll spend as much time helping you to create it as you need.

It all comes down to efficiency. If you have a straightforward job, it’s not that we won’t give it our full attention. But we’d rather not charge you for procedural tasks you could have done in-house—or materials you don’t really need. It means savings for you, and more time for us. We think it’s a win-win.

Need quick-turnaround prints—or careful consultation? Oregon has them  both covered.