Design is a process, it goes something like this:
problem/need > idea > development > solution
But how many of us apply a process to this process? Not many I reckon. I've written extensively on process and offered ways of getting you, the designer, to work in a way that allows maximum creativity in a minimum amount of time (allowing you even more time to be creative). Below is what I think is the best process to tackle any graphic design project.
1: Read the brief and question it with the client. Talk to them, don't email.
2: Re-read the brief.
3: Spend one hour scribbling down design ideas. Use pen and paper, not a computer. Quantity is the key here, it does not matter how good, bad or 'way out' they might seem.
4: Review the ideas, ideally with colleagues. Get their input on all of the ideas, even the 'way out' ones.
5: Work on more ideas or develop the ones that seem promising. Use a pen and paper again. Leave the software alone. You should be aiming for five or six ideas at this stage.
6: Review again. Some of your ideas will shine through, they answer the brief and are a creative, relevant solution. No more than one hour should be spent on this.
7: Gather the assets you need to begin to visualise the design. Things like images, logos and text.
8: Now you can use the computer. Take three ideas and create them using the software that is right for the job. Try to stick to your sketches at first. Don't get side tracked with new ideas or variations of one idea. This is the place where designers get lost in 'moving things around.'
9: If you are designing for print, print them out. For screen, try and view the designs in the environment they will be seen. Review them. Take your time. Mark your design changes carefully. Aim for one round of your own changes to get your designs ready for presentation.
10: Polish your presentation, check your spelling. Is it as perfect as you can make it? You will know if something is not right at this stage, so don't ignore it. Then read the brief again, if you have nailed it, you can present.