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
Honda CR-V Creative Superbowl Commercial: Matthew Broderick's Day Off Brings Ferris Bueller to Life Once Again
Ferris Bueller and Mathew Broderick Take the Day Off the Honda CR-V on Superbowl Sunday
Everyone loves Matthew Broderick. If you grew up in the 80's, you saw the iconic movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off, which poked fun at the establishment in general. This ad will be aired during the Superbowl this Sunday. In addition to simply using the Ferris Bueller theme, Honda has hidden over a dozen references to the movie in the commercial making it both interesting and viral as well. This is a great creative use of the commercial medium to promote the Honda CR-V to Gen-Xers who identify with the character of Ferris. (Remember Ben Stein: Bueller, Bueller, Bueller, Anyone, Anyone) It was a pleasant trip down memery lane for me. I didn't even feel pandered to. Now that is good advertising; making the target market eager to interact with the product. Great job Honda.
Here is the Link to YouTube: http://bit.ly/xgLEqC
What....Your still here? Don't You Have Anything better to Do?
Go on... Get Going..Go.
One of my favorite ad campaigns out right now is the Mayhem campaign from Allstate. Allstate helps us love Mayhem as they stick it to GEICO in these ads. Great creative...right on target.
Toddler: "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy "
I'm a Raccoon: "I've Already Had Like 4 Babies"
As a content creators, we are faced with the constant challenge to create on demand. Let's face it, we all have days that we don't want to get out of bed, let alone create the newest marketing masterpiece for an important campaign. Here are 5 tips to keep you from creative burnout.
(1) CHANGE UP YOUR ROUTINE
We are all creatures of habit. We drive to work the same way everyday, we park in the same area of the parking lot, we order the same item on the menu, we listen to the same music. Like it or not, our humanistic side craves stability and frequency as much as it craves creative expression. You need to interrupt your stagnant pattern. You need to try to do something different. Try to drive to work a different way. Listen to music you would not normally listen to. Change the channel to something you have never seen. It will give you a new perspective.
(2) CHANGE YOUR SURROUNDINGS
Move your desk. Change the decor where you work. Add a plant, change your chair. Take your laptop to your local coffee house and work for the day. Work at the kitchen table for a change. I like to work on the back patio or in the garage from time to time. Just try a change of surroundings, you will be impressed how effective it can be.
(3) TAKE A FIELD TRIP
If you are feeling bogged down creatively, go somewhere where you can have some new creative stimuli. Try a museum. Go window shopping at a mall you don't normally frequent. Get out in nature and just be there experience it. Go to the park and just walk around. Forget about work for a couple of hours and I like to go to the bookstore and look at all the creative books.
(4) SLEEP ON IT
Research indicates that if you are not getting at least 6 hours of sleep a night, you are putting your health in jeopardy. Everyone needs sleep. Try getting a little extra at night. I know that most creatives are insomniacs who knock out some of their best work while burning the midnight oil (Myself included - It is nearly midnight as I write this). Try to go to bed at 9pm. Get up early and work on the project then. If you can't pull the 6 hours at night, take small naps during the day. Don't sleep longer than 30 minutes to avoid grogginess. Get a sleep mask and listen to relaxing music before bed and you will sleep deeper and better.
(5) DO A MEDIA FAST
In our social media connected world, we live in a stream of constant noise. I read a book by Tim Ferriss, called the "4-Hour Workweek"; he suggests a one-week media fast: no TV viewing, no news, no magazines, no social media, & no internet. Once you remove the noise from your daily life, you begin to think differently. You have added clarity and focus.
Creativity is sensitivity to human nature. All of the tips above take us back to the basics. We are simple creatures who need to ground ourselves from time to time. By doing so we can become powerfully intuitive and create the content that connects us together.
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