Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Deadlines Can Be Your Friend

Deadlines are a mixed bag for Monkey + Seal. While they serve to create an endpoint to a project, they can be really stressful and emotionally taxing. We think it all depends on how you use deadline and the boundaries that you set.

For personal work, deadlines can help push you to focus and prioritize more on a specific project that will force you to really work on something. Since many times personal pieces are done for you, sometimes it is not clear when you're really "done" with a piece. If you are a photo-realistic painter, this may not apply as you're done when it looks like a photo, but if you have a stylistic approach, this is oftentimes a bit more of a blurry line.

By forcing yourself to work within a specified time frame, if you're the type of person that needs structure, you can squeeze out some amazing stuff in a short period of time. While this does not work for everyone, if you find yourself being more productive when you're in a time crunch (procrastinators, anyone?) setting deadlines can be a really positive thing. It may even push you to experiment (for better or worse) in trying new techniques and mediums that you may not have thought about before.

However, if you're the type that does not create well under pressure, then deadlines can be very rough on you. The pressure to create and to produce can be overwhelming, so much so that even if you want to start early, you may find yourself psyching yourself out until the last possible minute when you realize that you don't have any more time to spare.

Sometimes you just don't have enough time to do your best work and you end up turning in something less than par, or even something that you're a bit embarrassed by. In these cases, we like to focus on that fact that as long as you do your best given the circumstances, you shouldn't beat yourself up so much. Like we've said before, as long as you take something away from every experience, it's not the end of the world. If you failed to execute an illustration in the way that you wanted to, you now know that given x hours, you cannot produce what you were trying to. You now know what does not work, so at least when a client asks you "Can you produce X in Y amount of time" you'll know how to answer.

Deadlines can definitely help push you to your best and to give you an action plan of prioritization for any project. But they only work if you set proper guidelines and boundaries and stick to them. In the end, time may be your worst enemy, but if you take the experience as an imperfect victory instead of a loss, you'll be all the closer to mastering the clock.

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