Do deadlines make you more creative? Marketplace commentator Teresa Amabile, a professor at Harvard Business School and co-author of The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work, doesn’t think so. According to her research, professionals are 45% less likely to “come up with a new idea or solve a complex problem” when on extreme deadlines. Worse yet, your creative energies are apparently sapped for an additional two or more days due to a sort of deadline “hangover.”
Amabile suggests avoiding the “treadmill effect” wherein you’re running all day due to distractions and sequestering yourself into a quiet place. Brings to mind Jack Keroauc locking himself in a closet writing 10,000 words in a sitting whilst losing 10 pounds in the process. Albeit, he was on benzedrine but the general idea is the same. Also, Amabile says, ”If you’re a procrastinator, maybe the most important change you can make is an attitude adjustment,” which raised the hackles of at least two commenters on the Marketplace blog where this bit was archived. As MJWilco replied, “Don’t insult us with simplistic advice. An ‘attitude adjustment?’ If that was true, I would have fixed all my problems in grade school.”
Love it. So, the question at hand is, “Do deadlines work for you?” Amabile says that “When you work under the gun, creativity is usually the first casualty.” Or does it just improve your aim?