By Published On: February 23, 2015

When you’ve got a creative problem to solve quickly, it’s easy to fall back on old habits—and recycle those tried and true solutions that have worked again and again. But when it comes to creativity, originality is the key. So how do you keep your ideas fresh—especially when you’re faced with a tight deadline?

Here are some tips for generating great ideas when the pressure’s on:

  1. Dig deeper. Don’t settle for the first solution—or the tenth (it’ll either be obvious, cliché, or something you’ve used before). To get a great idea, you need a lot of ideas. Keep going until you run out of time.
  2. Make inspiration a way of life. This is more of an ongoing lifestyle tip. But it’s essential. If you want to be able to call on your creativity when under the gun, you need to fill the well all the time. Inspiration feeds creativity. If you’re always seeking out new things and ideas, you’ll have more to draw on when you need it.
  3. Seek inspiration in unusual places. If you’re looking for say, an idea for an ad, don’t look to other ads for ideas. Change the context and you’ll be forced to approach the problem in a new way.
  4. Use idea-generating techniques. This is a whole post in itself, but suffice it to say there’s a ton of information out there on this. The more techniques at your disposal, the better. Don’t approach every problem as you always have. Mix it up and you’ll challenge your brain to stretch in new ways.
  5. Have fun. When we’re feeling pressured, our creativity suffers. Great ideas come from a relaxed mind. So try not to put so much pressure on yourself. Listen to music. Move around. Having fun will free you up to take more risks and help you to step outside your familiar patterns.
  6. Generate, don’t evaluate. Don’t edit yourself. Focus on quantity, not quality. Allow yourself to come up with ridiculous ideas. Run with any and all possibilities. Judging your work will only tense you up and make it harder to access the good stuff underneath.
  7. Phone a friend. Talking about the problem with somebody else will send your thinking in new directions and help shake things up.
  8. Think about something else. Sometimes, it’s only when you step away from the problem that the answer appears. So take breaks. Focus on something else. Go for a walk. Put your subconscious mind to work.
  9. Have faith. It’s amazing how much better you think when you believe that you’ll come up with something great, instead of worrying that you won’t. Trust that something brilliant will come, and you’ve got a much better chance of doing it.

So how do you keep your ideas fresh? Got a technique you’d like to share? We’d love to hear it! Send us an email and let us know what works for you.

About the Author: cat-tonic

Born of curiosity and enthusiasm, we’re a scrappy group of smart, passionate marketers who work hard and play hard. We show up every day and fight for our clients who are making the world a better place. We listen with curiosity, explore deeply, ask hard questions, and sometimes put forth ideas that might make you squirm. Because we believe the status quo is good for growing mold but not much else. The way we see it, change is the way forward and the magic happens when curiosity, math, science, instinct, and talent intersect.
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Featured Work: The Informatics Group