Setting The Stage For Last Minute Magic

Creative people tend to thrive under pressure and there’s nothing quite like a looming deadline to draw reserves of brilliance from that secret creative place deep within. Right? Well, so goes the cliche. The truth is, there is a lot of preparation which goes into encouraging that creative process and there is nothing worse than getting stuck and not knowing how to snap yourself out of it. Beer, coffee, something a little stronger perhaps? Maybe, but only once the stage is set.

As creative’s gain more experience, they develop rituals for themselves which encourage productivity. Everybody’s are different, but all serve the same purpose – to keep the creative juices flowing when you’re under the pump. Public opinion is that all creatives have endless reserves of innovation, and while we wish that was true the fact remains that everybody gets stuck sometimes. It’s the stuff nightmares are made of – staring at a blank screen, with no inspiration and no ideas while time marches closer and closer to your deadline. So having systems and processes in place for yourself to get past this negative state is a must.

Being in a location which is conducive to work is a must. Sitting down and trying to be productive on the couch doesn’t generally work because your body is used to relaxing in that space. Having a place specifically reserved for work means that when you sit down at your desk (or wherever you decide), your brain recognises that it now needs to work and kicks into gear. If you have an office, the act of going to the office serves this purpose, where as if you are working at home you need to make more of an effort to foster this feeling.

setting the stage for last minute magic

Having everything you need surrounding you when you start is another technique to encourage creativity. Collect your resources and inspiration around you in the way that a doomsday prepper collects supplies for the end of the world. The less you interrupt yourself to find a document or reference the more productive you will be. Having all the information at your fingertips when you begin means that you are the most informed you can be, and to recollect your thoughts all you have to do is riffle through the stack of paper on your desk. Being surrounded with your research and support material serves the double purpose of reminding you of the boundaries and requirements of the project as you go, so that if you go off onto a tangent you are able to pull yourself back fairly quickly.

The same goes for your own physical needs while you are working. The aim is to work solidly in bursts without interruptions. Assign yourself breaks every 2-3 hours to get a bite to eat, go for a walk and refresh.

In our digital age, we all like to be connected. Many people have constant partial attention, meaning they are never fully concentrating on one thing, but splitting their focus between many. The average person gets one interruption every 7 minutes – be it an email, text message or Facebook notification. Over the course of the day, that is a lot of time wasted. Especially since it takes around 25 minutes to get back into the workflow. That’s the reason a lot of workplaces have blocked social media sites. Minimising all technological distractions is one of the best ways to be productive – shut down Facebook, log out of Tumblr and turn off your phone. Check these things on a designated break.

Just don’t forget that the last 10% of the project is the hardest thing to get over the line – the polish is what takes a project from good to amazing. While pressure does produce brilliance, it’s the lead up, the thinking, the brainstorming, the ‘sleeping on it’ and revisiting of ideas that is the foundation.

by Radi Safi

Radi Safi is the Creative Director at IYBI. In 2012 he launched Happy, a music blog and media company.
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