Here is a general rule of thumb for setting priorities when you are working on a project. I find that it is the best way to move a project ahead effectively during the design phases. It is ideal to tackle design issues in this order:
First - Resolve Decisions
Resolve decisions that others need from you so they can keep on schedule, too. Also, ask your client for all the information that “you are waiting on to get started”.
Second - Resolve The Unknowns
Resolve the unknowns so they don't come back to make you change things or re-design. This is really critical. It will seem like your time could be better-spent ’putting lines down’. It’s not. You will waste more time later accommodating the unknowns that it takes to resolve them up front.
Third - Tackle The Hard Stuff
Tackle the hard, messy, complicated stuff so you aren't swamped at the deadline with what will probably take longer than you think.
Last - The Easy Stuff
Last - Wrap up with the easy stuff because nothing else depends on it and it will go quickly.
Fight the temptation to assign the easy stuff to your helpers when they need something to do. Either get them researching some unknown stuff, or throw them in the ’deep end’ on some messy, complicated stuff (after setting expectations and offering “this is how I was planning to tackle that issue” advice).
Don’t expect this rule-of-thumb to be easy to implement. Your interests and past work habits will push you off course repeatedly. Just get back on track as soon as you notice that you have started to drift away from the plan. Work on making it second nature. I find it helps to group your tasks under these four headings. It is a great feeling to be heading for the project finish line with a list of simple stuff that you can bat out - or better yet - delegate.