Why Creative People Need Deadlines (And Why They Won't Deliver Without One)

When many people think of creative work, it’s natural to think of it a little differently than more straightforward “business.” The creative process is strange and unpredictable and creative thinkers often find themselves waiting for inspiration to strike and insisting that it can’t be rushed. While the process does have to unfold in its own mysterious way, this doesn’t mean that creative people can’t work on a deadline - or that you shouldn’t ask them to. In fact, the opposite is true. It’s really important to keep creatives on task with deadlines, and they do it with success all of the time. Here are some reasons why it’s best to keep everyone, even a creative team, on deadline.

Creativity has no bounds

When it comes to creative thinking, there are really no limits to the time and space it can occupy. That’s why having a deadline is GREAT for creatives because it is at least one factor that is being reigned in and structured. Tasks can enlarge to fill any amount of time they are allotted - so having a deadline will help them understand that they can’t let the scope of a project grow too big because they only have x amount of days to complete it.

Deadlines keep you on schedule

Without deadlines, projects can fall apart. Everyone on your team, including creative people, need deadlines to make sure that you are making progress at the pace that you need to. You don’t want to end up 3 months behind schedule on a campaign or get deliverables that aren’t even relevant or useful anymore after paying for them.

Projects fall through the cracks

It is possible that, without a deadline, creative people won’t actually deliver. This isn’t because they are bad people or aren’t great at what they do - it’s simply because without a deadline a project can always stand to have more tweaks and changes. Especially if you’re working with a perfectionist, which many creative people tend to be, they can find something wrong with their work every day for years! You want to set a firm end date by which you need their work.

They get started more quickly

Instead of letting their brains and imaginations stretch out for days or weeks at a time, a deadline helps to keep creative people on task and dive into a project right away. They know that they have limited time to come up with an idea and execute, so it’s less likely that they’ll let time slip away without getting to work right away.

You have a confirmed agreement

Working without deadlines is simply a slippery slope, with creative people or anyone. You want to have a deadline down in writing so that you know exactly what you are getting and when you are getting it so there is no room for misunderstanding. Like any working relationship, it’s always best to firmly outline the details and requirements.

You don’t have to sacrifice quality of work in order to get projects done on time. Having deadlines is a great way to make sure that the creative people you are working with understand your timeline and deliver what you need on your schedule.

Progress Bar animation by Jonathan Silva.