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I’ve got two hours two write this article.

I’ve spent 60 of my allotted 120 minutes emailing, checking Twitter, selling a bike, buying (and eating) a punnet of strawberries, DMing a friend about a terrible designer and watching the rain.

I now have an hour to write this article.

But that’s cool because distraction is just a symptom of my creative genius. Don’t believe me? Go ask the psychology team at Northwestern University.

*re-reads the study*

Their study proves

*checks my phone*

that this inability to block out external stimuli makes me more adept at generating creative ideas. Which is great but I now have 53 minutes to write, edit and upload this article.

Creative professionals aren’t supposed to spend all day chained to a desk. We’re drawn to this frustrating and underpaid profession by an ostensible freedom to nurture our creativity. We wear trainers to work! We have swings in our studios! We get to harness our distractions and transform them into creative concepts.

Only that’s not always the case, especially when earning our keep. Despite being the ideas industry, we work in the same my-time-for-your-cash format as manual labourers. The expectation that we should ‘deliver’ creativity for 8 hours a day is the same expectation that’s crushing our creativity. We can’t timesheet ‘looking at an historically inaccurate encyclopedia’ in the same way that ‘stimulating conversation’ must happen on our own time, irrespective of the benefit to our work.

*makes a coffee*

As a ‘creative entrepreneur’ I’m allowed to indulge my distractions. I fear not the beady eye of a boss, timing my comfort breaks. I work when I want and how I want. Which, with 30 minutes to this particular deadline is frenetically.

*checks email. Looks at a job in San Francisco.*

*tweets about how I’m writing an article where I log every distraction to the writing process*

*20 minutes to deadline*

Distractions come in two guises. The good and the bad. Good distractions are music and literature, interesting work spaces and sparkling conversation with disagreeable people. Bad distractions are a tsunami of sameness, stealing your attention and replacing it with

*checks thesaurus for an alternative to sameness*

monotony, the crack through which plagiarism sneaks.

The panic of a looming deadline and uniform stimulation will only drive you closer to more of the same. Few designers set out intentionally to plagirise, but a drip feed of design inspo does little to foster fresh thinking.

Limit your intake of other designer’s work if you don’t wish to regurgitate it, no matter how innocently, in your next client presentation. Look elsewhere for your

*checks thesaurus for an alternative to inspiration*

creative titillation.

Do what you can to

*checks notifications for tweet about being distracted. None*

change your point of view. Few ideas are original these days but you won’t help yourself fishing from the same popular ponds. Browse nature, history and literature as you would a design blog. There’s little chance of the Handsome Sunbird (Aethopyga bella) kicking off on Twitter because you copied it’s colour scheme.

*have now missed deadline*

*distracted by colleague watching a tutorial video at full volume*

*23 minutes past deadline*

Think of it like this. Good distraction is food for your creativity. Bad distraction is just another word for procrastination. Good distraction will provide you with the opportunity to step away from your design bubble. Bad distraction will only reinforce the walls.

*41 minutes past deadline*

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