An extremely important habit that a lot of designers don't practice, is tracking time within a specific project. Whether you are working on a university project or a real client brief – you will do yourself a huge favour by tracking the amount of time you are spending on each project.
The trick is to try and split the project into smaller steps and track time for each step. (Some common 'steps' during my design process are - researching competition, brainstorming initial concepts, choosing typography, executing the actual design, etc.)
This habit gives you 3 big-picture insights (apart from the other obvious benefits like knowing where the time is going between coffee breaks):
It will familiarise you with the way you approach projects and the natural progression of the way you solve a creative problem.
You will understand what steps are taking you longer than expected and what are the bits you are breezing through. ie. Your strengths and weaknesses. (eg. You might come up with various different concepts for a design solution in a breeze but might take much longer than expected executing an idea on the tools. Or choosing the right type face might take ages, but crafting the final design with that typeface might be a breeze. etc.)
It will give you an understanding into how long what step takes – which will help you estimate how long a particular project might take. This can then become your guiding principal for quoting on projects as a freelancer and determining a realistic deadline.
In the end, tracking your time is not to be mistaken as a habit that will lead to 'faster' solutions – but a tool to understanding your own creative process, so you can crack better solutions more efficiently.