Open Thread: Margin vs. Deadlines for Creativity

Let’s duke it out in the comments.

Do you think that margin allows for creativity because restraints aren’t as much in the foreground?

Or do you think that deadlines foster creativity through the pressure of having a deliverable and not being able to procrastinate?

I’ve thought about this myself. Okay, I have argued about this with myself. I feel like Jekyll and Hyde.

This has been on my mind as of late, especially after my Lead Pastor and I tried an experiment where we dedicated only four hours to the concept and execution of a video illustration for Sunday. You can read all about it and see the video yourself right here.

And to be honest, I am not sure which I believe yet – I love margin but I appreciate deadlines and I just don’t think that both of them can coexist (at least not in the same amounts) in any given work environment. So one has to be better, right?  I mean, that wouldn’t be fun if there wasn’t a loser.

When you drop a line in the comments, please mention your field or what you do – I am curious if we will see any patterns.

Less of me typing and more of you typing – Go!


Blane Young

Blane is a former Communications Pastor who now works with college students as a Campus Missionary with Chi Alpha at American University. He considers himself to be the second funniest person alive, fairly humble and an incredible chef because he once owned a recipe book for Ramen Noodles. He is happily married and is enjoying adjusting to life in Washington, DC.

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  1. says

    Ok, well I’m a student/8Bit intern/Creative Media dev.

    And I am most creative, by a factor of 2, while laying down in a quiet place. So I’m most creative when there’s plenty of margin. Deadlines absolutely spur productivity, but I don’t think work becomes *more* creative in those moments.

    Today we had a two hour debate on creativity in class, and concluded that creativity comes from enormous amounts of practice (and yes, the full MLA citation for “Outliers” by Gladwell was included :) )

    So someone with 10,000 hours of practice, with a deadline, might be more creative, because that’s who they are. But an inexperienced dude, when put under pressure, is still inexperienced.

    Pressure creates more of what you had to begin with

    • says

      I love what you said:
      “Deadlines absolutely spur productivity, but I don’t think work becomes *more* creative in those moments.”

      Of course, this was the cherry on top of the milkshake:
      “Pressure creates more of what you had to begin with.”

      I agree although I do think that some times, “creatives” need deadlines in order to turn art into a deliverable.

  2. says

    I gotta say, that for me, I need a deadline at some level. If I’m working on a project, I have to have a time where it’s gotta ship. Otherwise, I’ll get all creative-perfectionist on it and tweak forever. (Think, “That’s cool, I’ll add that in there!” after every blog post I read) That said, having the luxury of margin gives you time and space to actually try new things (which is actually being creative, right?).

    I’d say do something like Google’s 20% time. I mean, half of what Google uses now was thought up in that 20% time. You need time to be creative and try out stuff, but on projects, you should have the idea that it needs to get done by a specific time.

    • says

      Good word!

      I like that you brought up Google and their workplace environment.

      I think that having a healthy slice of time dedicated to personal or creative projects will yield huge dividends in any field.

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