Project Crunch Time: How to Harness Your Creativity Under Deadline Pressure in 5 Simple Steps
With stress-levels running high and tension peaking, another creative deadline looms on the horizon. The project has progressed to this point, but, now, you are failing in the final lap of the race. You are at a standstill. Creatively drained and out of ideas, you weigh options on how to escape the black hole of this project; you embrace the horror that you cannot muster the motivation to see this project through to completion. How did I get myself into this mess…Again?
1. Relax to Harness Your Creativity
First of all, relax. The problem is not that you cannot come up with a creative solution, the problem is that the solution will not be revealed until you have overcome the stressed-out state you are in. When you are in this condition, you are not at your creative best. Besides, this is the same type of deadline that you have dealt with before. This is nothing new. You have survived difficult deadlines before and you will survive this one. Stress can be a silent killer. Your blood pressure is elevated and your body is dealing with higher hormone levels. Take a walk. Take a bath. Go to the gym. Do some yoga. You need to do anything that helps you to calm down and relax, with the exception of alcohol or drugs-we need you with a clear head, after all! Just as in golf, speed and power during a swing, can only be achieved with tension-free arms and wrists. The looser your wrists, the faster your swing will be.
2. Evaluate Your Project Pressure
Have you really gone over the needed work done to complete the project. Often times, we build up a project in out minds and make it overly cumbersome. The project might be completed in a short amount of time if you haven’t fully evaluated the job. I have procrastinated projects because I thought that it would take several hours to complete, only to find out that when I truly embraced the scope of the project, I was able to complete the work in under an hour. Even if you go over some of the less essential tasks of a project, you will benefit. You might be possibly missing some key point that can aid you in project completion. Evaluate the project and you will feel much more in control of your life, which will lower your stress level as well.
3. Isolation Helps You Harness Creativity in Crunch Time
Get alone! Clear your calendar. Cancel your appointments. Shut the blinds. Put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door. Turn off your phone. Not just to vibrate, turn it off! No chatting, videoconferences, Face Time, Google Hangouts, or Skype. No web browsing. No social media. Turn it all off. You need to isolate yourself so you can really focus on getting through this project. A couple of hours of uninterrupted working can make all the difference in a project. When I work from home, this time for me is in the early morning hours before the kids are awake. I am better off going to bed at a decent hour, and getting up pre-dawn to work, because I am well rested.
4. Comfort Keeps Project Pressure Under Control
Make sure your surroundings are comfortable. Make sure the lighting is good in the room. Keep the temperature where you need it to be for your comfort. Turn on a fan if you need it. Wear comfortable shoes, and clothing. There are no expectations for you today, except to get that project complete. You are isolated today, so you wont be meeting with anyone. So it is casual Friday! Also, surround yourself with comforting music. For me, Jazz music helps me get into a relaxed state of mind. You need to do what will help you feel at ease. Eat your favorite food. Drink your favorite beverage. (No alcohol. See #1) Be comfortable.
5. Stimulation Helps You Harness Your Creativity Under Project Crunch Time
Once you have completed the project preparation, you can begin the fun part: creativity! This is after all, the reason that you are working on the project. You are a creative dynamo with unstoppable innovative ideas! It is time to get pumped up. It is time to stimulate your mind, body and soul. Whether you consume it hot, cold, or in a candy bar, caffeine is America’s stimulant of choice. Its time to get your caffeine on! Music that moves you is next. Find a tune that gets you out of your chair. We need endorphins! Have a variety of stimulating websites, design books, etc that can motivate you to do great things. I love looking at architectural magazines. I get so many creative ideas from them. Another source of creative stimulation are creative blogs. I have a dozen blogs that I read frequently that fuel my creativity. They deal with varying topics from arts and crafts to cooking. Is there a YouTube video that gets you motivated? Get some visual stimulation and you will be able to get the project done. You should feel great at this point because you are living the dream! You are completing the project. You are a proud member of the creative class.
Photo Credit: iam_photography, Creative Commons License, Some Rights Reserved
Travel Survival Tips
Traveling for business or pleasure for the most part is great experience. Travel does have its disadvantages, especially when you forget to bring some essential item. Being prepared is the secret to the travel game. Having both worked and lived abroad, I have had to travel in many different environments. There are certain items that I always want to have with me on a business trip because of their usefulness. Most of the items are surprisingly inexpensive. Here is the Travel Survival list that I have compiled of items that I take with me when I travel for business.
13 Essential Items to Pack for Your Business Trip
1. White Hand Towel
A basic white 16" x 27" hand towel. The saving grace to this towel is its compact size. Not too big, not too small. It is big enough to shower with even for a big guy like me. Hey, it is not the "Ritz-Carlton" of towels, but it is big enough to get the job done. If you have to wash it, it washes easily in the sink in your room. If you have to use a commercial laundry, It takes up less space and it also dries quicker. That will save you money in the end. At 2 Euro to wash a very small load in France, it adds up. I have used it to shine my shoes, rolled-up as a pillow, and even a dust cloth. It can also be used to clean up a variety of spills. Make sure that it is white so it can be bleached. Most of the time I simply wash it with Zote (See #2) Best of all, you know where this towel has been. Less than $5
2. Zote Mexican Laundry Soap
I prefer Zote Brand - Choose the pink one, it has a great citronella scent and it just works. Zote gets out stains that would never come out with anything else. When you spill on your favorite tie; Zote to the rescue. It will even remove old stains that have been on clothing for sometime. It also has fabric softeners built in. So when your luggage doesn't arrive, you can rewash your outfit with Zote and you are on your way! Purchase Zote at any Latino Supermarket. It is a great product and it smells so good. Less than $1.
3. Dr. Bronner's Magic Pure Castile 18 in 1 Peppermint Hemp Soap
The most unique and refreshing soap you will ever use. Dr. Bronner's website explains that the soap is "A combination of organic extra virgin coconut, olive, jojoba and hemp oils, together with pure essential oils, creates a unique soap that cleans effectively without being aggressive and produces a velvety-lather that leaves the skin silky-smooth and refreshed." it is a little pricey, but well worth it. The soap is ultra concentrated so you should dilute it. A bottle will last you much longer than you think. The awesome peppermint oil in the soap helps wake you up during your morning shower. It is also good to use as a refreshing face wash. I love this product. It is also interesting to read the bottle. Dr. Bronner brought the soap to the United States in 1948; his family has been making soap for 5 generations. All-One! 2 ounce bottle $3
4. Dial "Gold" Antibacterial Soap
Dial makes the best antibacterial soap on the market. Lets face it, hotel rooms can have a lot of germs. Don't bother with liquid soap; the bar soap has more of the active ingredient in it than the liquid soap. Forget the little soap in the box that they provide for you. Use Dial to wash your hands, the counter, tables, and you! This will help keep you from bringing home the souvenir of sickness. $3 for a 3 pack.
5. Swiss Army Knife
Make sure to check this item if you are traveling by airplane. TSA will not permit a knife on a plane (Duh!) I am 1/2 Swiss. I have been using Swiss Army Knives since I was a kid. They are reliable and useful in so many ways. They are also easy to slip in your pocket and can serve as a weapon for your defense. My favorite model is the "Spartan". It sports 2 blades, a can and bottle opener, screwdrivers, corkscrew and leather awl. $28
6. Leatherman Multi-tool
The main purpose for the leatherman is the needle-nose pliers. I tend to use my Swiss Army Knife more than my Leatherman. However, I have forgotten to pack it on occasion when I really could have used the pliers. You can unstick a zipper, tighten a bolt, etc. A great tool to have on hand everyday. $30www.leatherman.com
7. Glad White Plastic Quick-Tie Kitchen Garbage bags - 13 Gallon
These bags are good for dirty clothes, shoes or whatever you don't want to touch your clean stuff. They work great as barf-bags for those of you doing some international travel. They are also good for taking out the trash! $7 for 80 Bags.
8. Plastic Zip Tie Cables
These can withstand 40 pounds of pressure. I always throw in a couple of zip ties. just in case. You can use zip ties to repair almost anything; a luggage strap, shoes, luggage lock, etc. Less than $7 for a pack of 20.
9. "The Bullet" Fisher Space Pen
Developed by Paul Fisher. This pressurized pen was first used by NASA on the Apollo 7 Space flight in 1968. Without the invention of the Space Pen, astronauts would still be writing in pencil! The bullet pen is my favorite. It fits in your pocket, and it always works. It even writes under water. Once you try one, you will be hooked. Made in the USA in Boulder City, Nevada. $25www.spacepen.com
10. Moleskine Notebook
I first came across a Moleskine Notebook while living in Europe. I love the simple concept of a banded hard-bound notebook that you can carry with you everywhere. Simple, black, rounded corners, with a pocket in the back. They now come in several different sizes, styles, and colors. I still prefer black. It is always on my person along with my Fisher Space Pen (See #9). $12
11. Zippo Lighter
It always pays to have a way to light your path or start a fire. One of the first lessons you learn as a Boy Scout is how to light a fire. Always be prepared. I bought my first Zippo when I was 18 years old. It has been a great tool to have. You probably have to check this one with your luggage as well. $25
12. Sewing Kit
Make sure to have a sewing kit with you when you travel. If you need a needle and thread or a button, this item is worth its weight in gold. $5
13. Duct Tape
This one is a no-brainer. A must have for on the go repairs. A million and one uses come to mind for Duct Tape. You can even make a nice tie or wallet if you get bored. A roll is very nice to have if you need it.
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