Force yourself. Deadlines make you creative. Jack White, Musician

I’d like to share with you something I discovered about an experience every creative professional will be very familiar with – The Deadline.

During the time I ran my own design company in London, I thought I’d cracked the code to coming up with my best ideas.

All I needed was some pressure.

When a new pitch deadline came in, me and my business partner always gave ourselves very little time to work on it, because over the years we’d seen that our best ideas and our increased productivity seemed to happen when we were really up against a deadline.

And this ‘method’ won us a lot of pitches to organisations, such as BMW MINI, the BBC and the Royal Academy of the Arts.

It seems widely accepted that pressure is required to create something great.

“If I don’t have pressure, I don’t function.” “Self-imposed insanely impossible deadlines often help.” are both quotes from successful creative people.

I’m sure that if you work in the creative industry you’ve experienced times when a lot of pressure or a seemingly impossible deadline propelled you to perform some amazing achievements.

However, pressure and deadlines don’t in themselves get you to perform your best, it’s something else.

When a deadline is hurtling towards you, there’s no more time to think, there’s only time to do. And as you start doing in that state, ideas start to flow, solutions drop into your mind and you can achieve an amazing amount of great work in a very short period of time.

When your attention becomes 100% focused in the moment, you unknowingly get yourself into the optimum state for creativity and high-performance. And that state intrinsically gives you a clear head, because you fall into a space where all unnecessary thinking gets dropped and you work from a much more intuitive place, beyond the limitations of your own concepts.

Great ideas are realised in the space between the thinking. When your thinking quietens down, even for a few moments, you’re open to something brand new.

This space is why many creatives have their best ideas when they’re not thinking about the project – when they’re going for a walk, listening to music, or taking a shower – it’s a moment of space between conscious thought.

It’s not the pressure or the deadline that gets you to perform your best, it’s the state of mind inside of your own head that’s doing all the work. 

And this state can happen regardless of the external pressures, because it’s all happening inside of you.

Sport professionals get themselves into ‘the zone’ that state of optimum performance. You get yourself into ‘the flow’ that state of optimum performance and creativity.

When you start to understand how your own headspace works, you can access the flow whenever you want to – without the need for pressure.

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