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The idea that true genius and creativity comes slowly has been a proven theory. After all, when you look at some of the greatest achievements of our time, they weren’t thought out and put down on paper in a month. Many took months, even years to cultivate their creative ideas.

Even in business, creative ideas do better to come slowly. Yet many people in business believe that creative ideas can be borne in a time pressure-cooker. Is this true? Or is this just an illusion we like to believe?

Fighting Against Time

In a study done by Harvard Business Review, they wanted to know if creativity could survive under time-pressure. They gave several employees from different corporations an online diary and told them to record their experiences as they worked on a large project under a strict deadline.

The results, while mixed, were surprising. While some people reported they did feel creative at times, many stated they felt less creative, burned-out, and on a “death march” when doing the project. Why did this happen?

Research into the cognitive process of creativity has shown that the mind comes up with new ideas by “juggling several balls around and see what sticks together.” It’s as if the mind consider creativity as playtime. When faced with hard deadlines acting as a pressure cooker, the brain becomes frazzled and anxious, destroying the “playtime” it needs to create new ideas.

How to Manage the Time Pressure-Cooker

In a surprising twist, the study also found a few interesting points. In the experiment, when some of the workers isolated themselves from distractions, they found they were able to work with a more focused mindset. By managing their own time, setting aside and closely guarding blocks of time to work on their projects, those workers found themselves less exhausted and more able to concentrate on what needed to get done.

To Wrap it Up

Time-pressure will be inevitable. If you can’t get away from working under the clock, take blocks of time from your day to work away from any distractions. Guard these time blocks with everything you have. Creativity, even in business, still takes time. Closely guarding your time will help you succeed and keep you from the inevitable burn-out of a time pressure-cooker.