5 Simple Ways to Get Better at Creative Tasks Faster

You are less limited by your innate abilities than you think. Design, music, and writing are all skills that people view as creative, but in reality the only thing they require is practice.

But, how do you get better, faster? All you have to do is follow a few simple guidelines.

Practice at your practice.

When you first start practicing a new skill, you're tolerance for practice will be low. You probably won't be able to stand more than 30 minutes to an hour of practice. The first step to gaining a new skill is learning to practice. By increasing your tolerance for practice, you'll be able to improve faster.

Set process goals, not outcome goals.

Outcome goals (eg. we will win the superbowl) are easy to set, but they're misleading because they teach you to focus on things outside of your control. The only area in which you have complete control is the process. So set goals related to the process itself, and give yourself a time frame to work off.

Don't blame anyone, but yourself.

If the presentation didn't go well, it's not because the crowd was tough. It's because you weren't prepared. If you're design wasn't well received, it's not because the client didn't communicate their goals. It's because you didn't elicit them. The first step to improving is viewing your performance in a completely neutral manner and being accountable for all the outcomes. Not just the good ones.

Compare yourself to your peers, but aspire for the experts.

If you spend all your time comparing yourself to the masters in your field you'll quickly get discouraged. Instead, compare yourself with peers who more closely align to your experience. This will give you the confidence to continue your growth in the field. Your first blog post is going to be awkward, your first design will be rough, so don't compare yourself to the masters in the field right away.

Push beyond your comfort level.

Always pick goals that are slightly beyond your abilities. If you're practicing design, then push yourself to use a different style in your next concept. Your goals should always stretch your abilities just beyond your current comfort levels.

These simple concepts are the first steps to improving your creative performance. The reality is — if you're dedicated to getting better at a creative task, you will. The only thing stopping you is your existing habits, and your belief in your lack of innate creative talent. Once you change your habits and your mindset you'll be on the path to reaching your goals.

Written by Adam Harrell on November 24, 2009


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@Mike -- you're exactly right. If you're not researching and trying to expand your skills, then you're not practicing hard enough. It's funny how using a few simple design principles can really make a huge difference in the quality and consistency of your work.

@Nitlin -- They are small things, but they also seem to be the things that most people forget or don't do.

nitin naik says:

there are 5 small point but good to undestand and pratice

Mike Keen says:

Don't forget research! For example, when I learned about grid design and the golden ratio, I was stunned at the noticeable difference in my work.

Adam 600px kd2wvyl
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Adam Harrell