Deadlines. The very word can strike fear into the hearts of anybody who has ever had to meet one. For those doing something creative, doubly so. To work under time constraints is one thing. To create under deadline-pressure is something else entirely. What if inspiration never strikes? (And inspiration seems to run in especially short supply with a clock ticking over your head.) But it’s this very challenge that leads to the wonderful thing about deadlines. In a way, they solve the exact problems that they create. I’ll explain. Here are the top three reasons to love deadlines:
1. Deadlines Change an Idea into a Plan
My job as a Creative Director is to take often abstract creative requests and make them concrete. That means turning a request like “The client wants to see something new,” into an actionable plan. The first step is to specifically establish what you want to end up with. For instance, I might change “needs new client ideas” into “needs two .pdfs of image boards, each with an additional .pdf of a sample collateral item.” Now there’s a concrete goal – but the goal isn’t a plan until that all-important deadline is established. One of my favorite quotes, by French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery, says it best: “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
2. Deadlines are the Engines That Drive Your Projects
If you’ve read my blog posts before on creativity, you know that I’m big on action. Deadlines keep things moving along. Working on something, actually making forward progress, is the most important thing you can do on a creative project. Being inspired while you work is secondary. I’m not saying you should compromise the quality of your creative work. I’m simply agreeing with creative genius, Thomas Edison, when he said “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”
3. Deadlines Get Things Done
One of the best things about art classes in school were student critiques. Everybody would put up their work to await comments from their peers. Inevitably, in this setting and in museums across the country, you’ll hear the same comment, “I could have done that.” My response is always the same. But you didn’t. This person did. They stretched the canvas, they got the paints out, and they put brush to canvas. The difference between a work of art and an overused critique of said work is in the doing. The quote that applies here? I guess I’d have to go with Larry the Cable Guy on this one: “Git’r Done.”
So, there it is. Three great reasons to establish and embrace your deadlines. Don’t just think about what you want to do. Make a plan. Set your deadline. And go.