Art director, author, and Vitamin T Regional Director Monica Bloom is also a practitioner in the ancient art of Ayurveda, a sister science of yoga.
With all that going on, you’d imagine she has more than a few great ideas for improving your creative process when clients, teammates, and hunger for lunch are getting in the way of your brilliant work!
Well, you've either procrastinated or your client has changed their mind so many times that you are now in a serious deadline crunch.
Good thing you are in possession of some awesome talent (score!) to get you through most of it, but the best of those skills will only materialize when you stay steady and focused.
Let me share a bit of what I do (and I teach my team to do) so you can stay calm under a timeline crunch.
- Get 20-30 Minutes of Exercise in the Morning. In Ayurveda, exercise (yoga) actually preps the body for meditation and releases toxins from the body through sweat. Based on a mind-body connection, when we move our bodies, our "monkey" minds calm down, so we can focus.
- Prioritize The Most Crucial Projects For Today, Only. Move everything else out of the way. Write down your task list on paper (Not digital. Pen to paper connects mind to project) in order. Block out your calendar with those tasks and stick to it.
- Turn Off All IM and Social Media. If the temptation is too strong, there are apps that block social media for a period of time such as Anti-Social, Concentrate, and Focus Booster. Personally, I am a fan of Ommwriter—it’s got contemplative music and a pretty backdrop—great for stream of consciousness writing!
- If Possible, Create an "Away" Auto Email Reply. Something like so, "I'm on deadline. I'll be checking email again at 3." That way your teammates know what you're doing and when you'll be back. Otherwise they will IM you to find out where you are and that instant messaging "ding-ding!" is a sanity crusher!
- Use a Timer for “Crunch Hour”. A tool I used to hit deadlines for the book I just wrote was a 30-minute hourglass. I would make sure I had tea, bathroom break, sit on a pillow, turn on my music, and turn off all social media. Then, I would pause to make sure I had everything I needed. Once totally settled, I would flip the hourglass. My rule was "No getting up, nothing except the project." When the sand ran out I would quickly assess if I still had everything I needed and if so, I would flip it over again right away. Same rule applied, "No getting up, nothing except the project." I would often work for 90 minutes completely focused.
- Reward Yourself with Short Breaks. Since you will be focusing and moving quickly to reach your deadline goal, you’ll need breaks. Pressing on when you’re tired can result in dumb, sometimes time-consuming mistakes. Plus, you will be incentivized to stay nose to the grindstone when you know you have a break at the top of the hour.
Don't forget that you were hired to express the very best of your creativity and productivity. So then, creatively producing should be what you spend most of your time doing!
Leave the fluffy distractions aside and connect to your work. My guess is if you did that more often, the deadline might not be quite as crunchy, unless it's the fault of “those darn clients”. ;) (We’ll get to attitude adjustment in a future post!)