Look, it’s a snail.

We’ve all been there. Deadline approaching, sweat starting to gather in… well, places, and you’ve got nothing. Nada. Zilch. The screen is as blank as your mind. Some people call it a creative rut, others, hell on earth.

Desperate, you resort to a quick online search for some possible solutions. Sure, some of these tips can be useful, but is this the best time to learn how to meditate or go for a long, relaxing walk disconnected from the world? Probably not.

Sometimes you need to do something different. Drastic even.

Buckle down.

Power through it.

Grind it out.

Whatever you want to call it, it’s typically seen as a last-resort, desperate method for problem solving, but it’s time to embrace it as part of our workflow to unlock creative efficiencies and productivity. Because while there is still so much we don’t know about the ol’ noggin, one thing we do know is that having a single focus is essential to leveraging its full potential.

So what is this process?

It’s period of intense focus and deliberate thinking to get the job done. The intricacies of everyone’s process are a bit different, but in a nutshell, it’s sitting down and forcing yourself to work. Forcing yourself to think as hard as you possibly can. And I mean forcing. No distractions. No social media. Nothing but work.

You never stop thinking.
You never stop being focused.
You never give up.

You’ll have to discover what works for you. What environment do you need? What tools? What’s your timeframe? How many cups of coffee? How do you tune out the world? This takes effort to figure out, so start in situations with plenty of time and resources. That way if what you’re doing isn’t working, you can shift your approach a bit and find something that works a bit better. Once you find an approach you can tolerate, you’ll be armed with something incredible — a new way to solve problems that you can use at any point, not just at the very last minute out of desperation.

Before you get too excited, let me be honest, because there’s no sugar coating it, this process is often physically all-encompassing and drains every bit of energy out of you. It’s not the sexiest of solutions, and is far from fun. So don’t use it if you don’t have to! But there are a lot of situations that it is perfect for, and recognizing these in advance will help you leverage this method at the right time:

  • Freeing up time for other jobs: In the run of a day prioritizing where our time is spent is a constant challenge. By powering through you can finish a time-consuming, but less important, job more quickly.
  • The job, is well, boring: Some jobs you just want to get over and done with and the less time you spend on it, the better. And that’s ok! Don’t think you’re doing the client a disservice. By focusing really hard you’ll give a boring job more love than it ever expected.
  • Getting over the hump: A lot of challenging jobs have this moment where nothing makes sense and you feel like you aren’t making any progress. It’s frustrating and discouraging. Getting over that hump can allow for an immediate sense of relief and relaxation.
  • The tough nuts: Maybe you just can’t crack that job no matter what you do. You know there’s a creative solution out there, but it’s just not coming to you. In these cases, use your newfound secret weapon!

There’s no right way to do this, and you’ll have to train your brain to explore this methodology, but by using this approach more frequently in a range of situations, it’ll stop feeling like a tool for desperate times and instead turn into a secret weapon for productive thinking.

By unlocking this part of your brain, you’ll soon find yourself unlocking even better ideas.

As a seriously, unserious creative thinker, I’m doing my best to make a difference with great advertising, social projects, and volunteer work in St. John’s, NL

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