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Working under pressure

October 31, 2011

BAD PRESSURE kills creativity

Advertising – and communication in general – has a myth: “the best ideas are found under pressure”… “I give my best under pressure”

I’d love to see this myth fall.
Please let’s be serious… It is basically like saying that you wish that a Champions League would last only a handful of minutes instead of 90. Will you be happy to play your quarter of final in four rounds of watch? I don’t think so

Smettiamola con questa storia dell’essere sotto pressione… un balla colossale.

Creativity is a peculiar matter. Quite a misterious, no one actually knows when the Big Idea will come along and unfortunately this adds up to create the myth that the creative staff is a sort of magic box, with no rules and no time, where ideas comes from nowhere.

If you have serious intentions in investing in creativity, my suggestion is to invest in TIME, too.

Creativity has got a lot to do with the personality of e designer, with their backgrounds, their professional environment… And other thousand of aspects.

There are designers who are organized and designers who are very instinctive, designers who love to sit and think and designers that just… create.
Some of us handle pressure better than other. We are different and respond differently to external stimulation and pressure.
Some of us can handle tense situations better than other, some have personal resources, creative resources and techniques that allow them to keep calm and focus.

I like to think that there are two kinds of pressure: good pressure and bad pressure.
The first one helps you to grow and get better as a designer, the second one only brings in confusion and anxiety.

What’s behind good pressure?
The right commitment, a positive environment, being aware of the importance of the project fr the client, our self esteem.

And bad pressure?
Tight deadlines, difficult relationship with the client and with the rest of the creative staff, a negative environment, bad organization and a dull commitment.

I love working when there’s good pressure around. It is stimulating and pushes to do good. It drives me to stay at the computer and work more and even when I am gone from my desk I am aware my brain is still on the project.

When bad pressure rises, anxiety and chaos take control.

Good or bad, pressure will always be your uninvited companion of journey, a component of our job with whom we must learn to deal.

Turn a blank page into a communication project always generates a good deal of pressure, it is up to us and to our client to learn to keep the pressure on the good side.

Perhaps it is good that clients understand what happens in the creative staff when bad pressure takes on:

  • individual approach overcome teamwork, and quality usually dropslack of time limits research
  • lack of time gives you more chances to make mistakes
  • designers chose to play it safely and rely on safer solutions, discarding risky or alternative solutions

Think about this when you buy a project and set the agenda and impose deadly deadlines!

I believe that little time is as lethal as too much time. It might sound incredible but too much time for a project usually has the result to make the creative staff to lower the guard – too many times we, designers, said the crucial words “no problem we got plenty of time for this….” and too many times we postponed everything until the very deadline eve.

I am also convinced that the words “I give my best under pressure” is usually an attempt to cover some organization flaws and our innate habit to postpone.

A little pressure is great as a performance boost. A constant pressure causes burn-out.

Try to explain to your clients that creative projects are the fruit of an organized process that passes through sharing the agenda and agreeing on deadlines, and not only the final ones.

Organization is the keyword to beat deadline anxiety.
Organizing the different phases of the creative process helps to maintain the right pressure – the good pressure – and the right focus, necessary to bring the project home. Experience will do the rest. I also believe that experience and organization CANNOT replace creativity, but they can give it a great hand.

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