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These are the rules illustrator, graphic designer and creative director Ash Thorp lives by. As part of PUMA’s Speaker Series organized by Global Creative Director Torsten Hochstetter, Thorp inspired PUMA’s designers at our headquarters.
He gave them tips to overcome a creative block, to stay focused and showed them the benefits of lists.
When it comes to being creative and creative blocks, Ash Thorp knows what he’s talking about. The good thing about creative blocks is: “They are a myth!” The secret lies in working on 2-3 projects at the same time.
“If you are working hard on one project you’ll eventually hit a wall. Don’t push through, but shift your mind and do something else,” Ash advices. Focusing on something else opens a different path for you so that you don’t give yourself time to feel depressed or lost. If you go back to your initial project you’ll have a fresh idea to get past the wall.
Other tips by Ash Thorp to avoid a creative block are:
Knowing when to take a break
It’s crucial to know your own limits and triggers.
Having a strong network of peers
Learn from everybody: “I’m surrounding myself with people I really admire. They help me to stay focused and to pay attention to different things.”
Avoid bad rituals and habits
Don’t distract yourselves through videos on Facebook or Instagram for example.
Get the work done
No more words needed here
If you are not yet the type for lists, you might want to become one. “Personal accountability is our greatest asset,” says Ash. Lists can help you to find your priorities and control your actions.
Here are the essentials when it comes to the benefits of making lists:
Remove clutter and distractions
It will help you focus your time
Find your A to B-list priorities
A-list priorities are important and urgent topics. The B-list contains everything that you can get done but that’s not urgent. Ash additionally created a system to manage his e-mails: “I take all my e-mails that come in throughout the week and if they are not pressing I compile them and go through them on Friday. That’s a great life hack.”
Write out your goals in order of action
You need to be aware of the actions you need to take to achieve your goals.
Key thing: Set times and alarms to keep you on track
You easily get lost in your creative space where time does not exist anymore. Setting alarms helps to stay in the real world that everybody else shares.
Ash writes a list for every day the night before. “I always start off my day with simple tasks like having breakfast. I work from home, so I need a daily routine. Otherwise I’d come out of bed and go straight to my computer.”
Speaking about lists, staying focused is essential: “Your level of success in life is a direct result of your ability to manage time appropriately.” For a proper time- and self-management, Ash follows these simple (at least simple on paper) steps:
Remove distractions from your phone and computer
Your phone is like a black hole you can fall into. Prevent that from happening by removing everything that distracts you, like games for example.
Allow small windows of time for breaks and rewards
For your focus, it’s important to create moments of rewards. “I’m pretty simple. For me an award is having lunch with friends for example or watch a TV show,” says Ash.
Set up a system of guidelines for your workflow
If you need to get big problems solved, spend a few hours completely focused, thinking about that problem. Also, make sure everybody else is aware of these guidelines. If your door is closed for example, everyone knows that you don’t want to be interrupted.
Respect yourself and your time
Focus always comes down to having a deep respect for yourself.
His success proves Ash right, following his steps might be worth trying out to elevate your (creative) work to the next level.
Picture Credits: Tom Ziora/ PUMA