That nagging nervous feeling in the pit of your stomach just exploded into full-blown anxiety. The important deliverable your boss wants? It’s due in “five minutes.” The paper that counts for half of your final grade? It should’ve been done yesterday. You’re under immense pressure to meet your deadlines, but your mind is blank, and you can’t think of any solutions. What should you do in such a situation? Constraints drive creativity, and you can unlock your imagination and drive solutions by THINKING DIFFERENTLY. Here are the seven steps to conquer creativity in a pinch and meet your next deadline:
1. Ditch Traditional Brainstorming and Give “Gamestorming” a Try
Traditional brainstorming is broken in that it stimulates ‘groupthink’ and adds unneeded pressure. To make matters worse, ideas offered by the loudest people drown out the great ideas from those who aren’t as extroverted. Gamestorming incorporates co-creation in ways that stimulate thinking and states of play. It requires breaking into two ‘zones of thinking’, the divergent zone, which is all about quantity, and the convergent zone, which is where choices are filtered down. This approach can jump-start your creativity and help you come up with unconventional ideas that you wouldn’t usually come up with.
2. Frame and then Reframe the Problem
When you are faced with a problem, it is easy to get lost in the details, and you may not be able to identify the root cause of the problem. So, it’s essential to take a step back and reframe the problem. Ask yourself questions like “Why?” “What If?” “Why not?” If you are trying to make a chair more comfortable, does the problem lie with the chair or the way the person is sitting in it? By asking yourself these questions, you can identify the real problem and come up with creative solutions.
3. Dig Deep. Think “Sideways”
Lateral thinking, also known as “thinking sideways,” is an approach that can help you to arrive at your own thoughts rather than relying on conventional ideas. In this approach, you let your mind wander in different directions and explore unconventional ideas that you wouldn’t usually consider. It can help you to break out of the status quo and come up with innovative solutions.
4. Let it Soak
When you’re up against a ticking clock, the best way to boost creativity is to let your thoughts develop. Take some time away from work and do something else like having a snack or taking a shower. This will give your brain some space to process and make sense of the problem and can help you come back with fresh ideas.
5. Check your Surroundings
Our environment can have a profound effect on our creativity. So, it’s essential to consider our surroundings. Determine the environmental inputs that drive your desired outputs. The right people, places, and music (or lack of) can make all the difference in your creative problem-solving process.
6. Strike While The Iron is Hot
Once the ideas start flowing, keep working and capture them however possible: momentum is a fire you must never stop fueling. Thanks to a sudden ‘ah-ha’ moment, the blocked lows of creative problem solving can give way to an exhilarating rush of ideas that will make your deadline attainable.
7. Be Vulnerable
Creative problem solving requires the courage to fail your way to success. Brainstorm, observe, and repeat. Remember Theodore Roosevelt’s great words about the power of vulnerability. “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood.”
In conclusion, when faced with tight deadlines and stressful situations, creativity is key. By ditching traditional brainstorming techniques and trying gamestorming, reframing the problem, thinking sideways, taking breaks, checking your surroundings, striking while the iron is hot, and being vulnerable, you can unlock your imagination and drive solutions that transcend the confines of conventional wisdom. So, the next time you find yourself in a tight spot, remember always to think outside the box and surprise yourself with your ingenuity.