3 Tips for Managing Your Creativity

| April 10th, 2008 |

The creative process is difficult to manage, especially in a work environment so heavily focused on time management, “getting things done,” and deadlines. How can you guarantee your creative mind is churning along at a steady enough pace to meet all of your design responsibilities? You can’t. But, you can do a few things to encourage the creative process in the right direction. Here are 3 tips that work for creative designers, writers, and developers.

1. Let it go

Designers and writers are notorious for not knowing when to stop working on a project. There are times when the creativity stops flowing midstream. Instead of stopping, we continue to push on, hoping that a brute force approach will unveil that perfect color combination or write that final paragraph. Our energies would be much better spent on less futile efforts. Learn how to stop working on something and come back to it later. Mastering this technique is advantageous because your subconcious continues working on ideas long after you’ve set them aside. The final pieces will come to you at some random moment in the future, while you are working on some mundane task, or sleeping. See the next tip on how to be ready for them when they do come.

2. Always carry paper and pencils

On the TV show, Numb3rs, Charlie Epps is a math genius who uses his ability to help solve crimes. There is a pivotal moment in almost every episode where someone says something that triggers a moment of clarity in Charlie’s mind. The cheesy graphics roll across the screen and Charlie solves the case. Creativity is somewhat like this. You never know when a brilliant idea will explode inside your mind. Some of those ideas stick, others are more fleeting. Make sure you have a way to capture these moments on paper. I always have a notebook on my desk, a sketchbook in my bag, and a pad of paper on the nightstand. Nothing beats a sheet of paper and a Ticonderoga for translating synaptic impulses into tangible concepts. And, pencil sketches are the best way to communicate creative ideas to your creative team.

3. Avoid distractions

Nothing will kill the creative process faster than an annoyingly minor distraction; an urgent email, a phone call, or the Internet, in all its procrastination-enabling glory. The best way to cope with interruptions is to physically remove them from your workspace. Turn the computer off, disable the ringer on the phone, or setup a studio-like environment away from everything where you can concentrate on the creative task at hand. Distractions can be far more damaging than a minor interruption or frustration, they can kill the creative process entirely, derailing your efforts and leaving you no way to get back on track.

What tips do you have for managing the creative process?

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A collection of useful tips, tales and opinions based on decades of collective experience designing and developing web sites and web-based applications.

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Intervals is online time, task and project management software built by and for web designers, developers and creatives.
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John Reeve

John is a co-founder, web designer and developer at Pelago. His blog posts are inspired by everyday encounters with designers, developers, creatives and small businesses in general. John is an avid reader and road cyclist.
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Michael Payne

Michael is a co-founder and product architect at Pelago. His contributions stem from experiences managing the development process behind web sites and web-based applications such as Intervals. Michael drives a 1990 Volkswagen Carat with a rebuilt 2.4 liter engine from GoWesty.
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