The Deadline Phenomena

Being Creative Under Pressure

Can we be creative under time pressure?

Working on a musical project usually comes with a deadline attached to it. You may not think that most creative musicians actually benefit from a deadline. Not only that, they prefer it, because it focuses the creative mind that all too easily gets distracted otherwise.

My best work happened under intense time preasure. It seems that I can stay more focused knowing that every second counts. Working under time pressure forces one to make the best of the limited time available. Of course this requires an enormous amount of discipline, along with the ability to make important decisions fast. For example, there is just no time to think about one chord for 3 hours.

An other thing I learned working under time pressure is to focus on the big picture. Start with the basic structure first and then fill in the blanks.

Tip 1

Embrace deadlines. They train us how to stay focused, work fast and efficient, and save us time.

Tip 2

Start with creating a plan, a strategy how you want to get the job done on time. Break the project down into smaller tasks and attach mini deadlines to each of them.

Tip 3

I like to create a fictionally deadline date that is scheduled 2 days before the actual date and really try to stick to it. This way I still have more time to get the job done or to make it better before the real deadline.

By Thomas Gunther

Thomas Gunther (known in Germany a Thommy Günther) is a jazz pianist and contemporary keyboardist, composer & song writer, arranger & orchestrator, music producer, and educator of contemporary music genre and styles. Originally from Germany, he lives in Chicago IL, USA. He has been an active member of the Chicago music scene for over 20 years, a professor of music at Columbia College Chicago, and creator of,, He is an expert in music notation using Finale (by Makemusic) and produces and records music with Logic Pro x (Apple, inc).

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