Creative Deadlines – Jack White Uses Them

The Music

It was mid-March 2011 and Austin, Texas, was already sticky hot.  My then boyfriend (now husband) and I travelled from San Diego to enjoy the music of South by Southwest.  Many of my advertising creative friends attended the interactive week of SXSW and left merely hours before we arrived.

I wasn’t there for advertising though; I was there to get lost in the music.

SXSW attracts musicians from all over the world.  Every stage, every parking lot, every possible space becomes a venue.  (I first listened to one of my favorite bands Onward, Soldiers in the parking lot of an ice cream shop.)  The talent is unbelievable.  The creativity astounding.

Surprise shows pop up at a moment’s notice.  Jack White of The White Stripes performed an acoustic set during one of these moments.  With no possible way of knowing about his improv performance other than being in the right place at the right time, we weren’t – we missed it.

Jack White uses Creative Deadlines

Much like creating this surprise show, Jack White creates his own deadlines to enhance his creativity.  He uses tension to fuel his creativity.

During the filming of the documentary “Under Great White Northern Lights,” Jack White said, “Book only four or five days in the studio and force yourself to record an album in that time.  Deadlines and things make you creative.”

Advertising is a deadline-driven industry.  I’m sure you don’t need more deadlines there.  Notice though, when deadlines and schedules are set, you get things done.  How can you take that into your personal life?  How can you use that model to reach your goals outside of work?

How to Schedule to Reach Your Goals

One success strategy that helps my clients and me personally is to designate blocks of time to work toward a specific goal. Those blocks of time serve as deadlines which force your creativity to come out to play.  Maybe that’s four or five days every month.  Maybe that’s 15 minutes every weekday morning.  Maybe it’s 90 minutes every Wednesday.

Whatever you decide, put that time on your calendar and treat it like the very important meeting that it is.  That block of time – or “meeting” if you will – will get you closer to what you really want.

If you block out that time from say 7p.m. to 8:30p.m. for the next four Wednesdays, and you find yourself this Wednesday at 6:48p.m. waiting for the clock to change to 7p.m., just start.  Write down what time you started and go for the 90 minutes you committed to.  You know how good it feels to get something done early.

Your success will come from putting the blocks of time on your schedule, protecting those times and moving into action during those times.  If Jack White can set aside a block of time to record an album and make it happen, then you can set aside blocks of time for your goals too.

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