You receive an email from your client with images for their website. Download the images as soon as you can and make sure they have the right specifications (dimensions and dpi) and that the images will work within your design stylistically. Getting all ducks in a row will save pain and embarrassment.
The following story still makes my nerves fray. Years ago, I designed an important e-commerce site for a client who depended on the site being live. I sent the approved design files to the programmer on the date they were due to assure we stay on schedule. The programmer had my files for months and kept saying that the website was looking great. We waited and waited to see their progress and the night before the website was supposed to launch, I received an email saying that my files were corrupt. The situation was mortifying for the programmers, who lost credibility, but more so extremely detrimental for my client, who lost potential business and alot of money. By the way, my client had hired the programmer and she worked directly with them. Normally, I work with a programmer and I know exactly where the website is in development along the way.
The important lesson is that although I may be busy on other projects, I need to at least review files and details of a project, even if I don't immerse myself deep into the project for a few weeks. Also, the beauty of dipping my toe in just a bit is that I can familiarize myself with the project and let the project roll around in my gray matter and possibly allow the slow drip to create solutions over time and not be rushed.
I am constantly looking for ways all during the design process to be prepared. I stay aware; I pay attention to every word a client or vendor says; I research thoroughly; I ask questions; and I apologize for mistakes, which happen. If I'm prepared as much as I can be, then the little snafus aren't as embarrassing and everybody reputation remains in tact.
A few other prep tips:
-Get printing bids during the initial stages of design so a client can make informed decisions before going too far down the design path.
-For complex printing jobs, have a face-to-face meeting with the printer to make sure all details are discussed and possible problems flagged.
-The above two tips also go for websites. If possible, I talk to several programmers when designs are in the initial stages.
Let us know ways you remain locked and loaded for design success.