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The Creative Process: ‘Focus’ Notes on Planning & Procrastination

3 Feb 2021

As a part of our Creative Process series, we’re beginning with a look at how we use structure and procrastination to give us the necessary headspace for creativity.

 

PLANNING

Planning sets the foundations for a project, but unlike other professions, designers need flexibility within their work to be able to allow for the slightly sporadic way ideas come to us.

To create headspace for creativity, we use notebooks, post-its, calendars – whatever we can to do a brain dump. By writing, or scribbling down everything on our minds, we can choose what we want to focus on. We create a loose and varied schedule, building in key tasks, small jobs as well as some extra-curricular activities that give us a chance to keep our minds refreshed, reset & procrastinate effectively, which leads us into our next technique…

 

PROCRASTINATION

As designers, we’re in the grey area between artist and business, so although some of us have ping-pong and craft beer in the studio, we also tend to sit at a desk for 8-10 hours a day with regular deadlines to fulfil. What often goes unacknowledged in design, is the importance of procrastination in the creative process.

In his book ‘Outliers’ Malcom Gladwell explains perfectly something that, as creatives, we inherently know – that there is a perfect amount of procrastination. Too much, and nothing gets done, too little and we can’t expand our thinking. Something as simple as going for a walk or having a coffee break can distract us for long enough, that often by the time we come back, it’s figured itself out.

“Just think about it deeply, then forget it, and an idea will jump up in your face.”
– A line from ‘Mad Men’, Character Donald Draper explains his thought process.

What’s important to know about creativity, is that it isn’t a desk job. Even with new technologies, it’s difficult to find inspiration and new ideas without procrastination or changes in stimulus, but it’s planning that gives us a way forward when we reach a creative roadblock, and allows us to balance the artistic and strategic sides of our brains.

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