top 3 creativity killers.. i guess..

you know something is wrong when the creative process that usually gives you life and energy becomes painfully slow and draining. over the past couple of months, mr. blank canvas has roughed me more than once… and in the process I’ve discovered three very subtle things that tend to sneak up and choke off my creative flow. Watch your back… they might be coming after you as well.

killer #1 – multitasking & distractions
nothing seems to sap my creativity levels more than trying to do too many things at once. If you’re a member of the Getting Things Done fanclub, you’re probably already well aware of this. According to David Allen (the author of GTD), our minds are like computer RAM. The more active “stuff” we have going on at any one time, the less efficient our brains seem to work.

mr. allen's analogy totally makes sense to me, as ive often found that in order to really focus my creative energy on something, i need to get rid of the other distractions lobbying for my attention. ive found that turning off my email, ym, friendster and celfone is the easiest and most effective way to get rid of the majority of these distractions. if youre really overloaded with work and you’re having a hard time getting your brain to slow down enough to focus on one thing at a time, implementing a full-on GTD system really is a great way to go.

killer #2 – work environment
this morning i have to meet someone who's coming here sa room, so i had to clean up all the clutter that was sitting on (and around) my desk. now that all the loose papers, bills, cigarette butts, and other junks are put away, i honestly feel super refreshed. its amazing how much of a difference your physical surroundings can make on your emotional state. the weird thing is that i never really seemed to notice how much the clutter and mess was weighing me down until it was removed.

your work environment goes beyond just how tidy you are though, it also includes the colour of your walls, how comfortable your chair is, as well as the music playing in the background. anything that is distracting your senses will play a part in how focused you can get. if you lucky enough to have the power to change some of these variables ( i realize that not all of us work from home) you’ll probably be surprised on what you can pull off with a limited time.

killer #3 – fear of failure
every so often ill get contacted by a client that i feel is “out of my league” asking if im available to work on a project. if it’s not something that i feel is over my head (technically), ill usually go for it. its during these types of projects that i often find myself wasting hours of time second-guessing everything i do and putting way too much pressure on myself early on in the creative process. it wasn’t until after i listened to a podcast by franklin mcmahon (ep #38) that i clued into the reason that i was putting this pressure on myself. i had a fear of failure.

i have a feeling that most of us deal with this from time to time, so i thought id share how i get around it. first, i start thinking about the goals of my client rather than my personal goals. my clients goals might be to increase visitor traffic and make their site more search engine friendly, whereas my personal goals might be to impress the client enough to land some repeat work from them. im finding that when i focus on my clients goals, there’s a good chance my personal ones will work out as well.

another thing ill do is think to myself, “what would ___ (insert favorite designer’s name here) do in this situation? how would they handle the design of this nav? would they use 2 or 3 columns for this layout? when i start asking those questions, ideas immediately start coming to mind and ideas start flowing. almost seems like a brain hack, but it works.

im sure ive only touched the surface of the potential creativity killers out there, what kills your creativity?

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