Time pressures are one of the biggest issues facing designers today – but they're also one of the most creative tools at our disposal.

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It’s like taking an exam at school, sweltering in the summer heat, head buzzing with figures, unwanted images of the girl three-rows down, and staring intently at the clock. Time seeps away, the second hand relentlessly ticking off each breath as the deadline looms.
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Thirty-seven minutes left. That’s how long I’ve got until this column absolutely has to go to Press. Which has put me in the mind to think about deadlines full stop – and if you’re going to think deadlines, then you might as well do it facing one yourself.
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Creative deadlines are the grim reaper of the industry. They lurk continually in some inevitable future, one that is occasionally glanced at but not paid too much attention to. Yet when you do take stock, the deadline – whether it’s for clients, the art director, or this column – is always much, much closer than you imagined.
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Thirty-one minutes. Deadlines aren’t just the finishing post, the bit before the rush for the pub. They aren’t just a series of Post-It’s tacked onto your wall calendar. They are productivity boosters of the first order. 
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When creative projects start, designers tend to work at a pace that is exponential. We start slow, taking time to find inspiration, surf Web sites, take pictures of tree bark for textures, or spend a lazy afternoon leafing through font catalogues. Fast-forward to mere hours before the deadline, though, and we’re slapping down any old font, we need Web bandwidth on an undreamt-of scale, and if it’s brownish, that’ll do fine as that tree texture, thanks.
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Eighteen minutes (includes curse-inducing loo break). We tend to speak faster when deadlines loom, too: clipped instructions are snapped at co-designers, while we struggle to decipher the same txt-speak fired back at us. Communication zooms to light-speed levels, as we massage meaning and context into new phrases and layered instructions that convey content in what is really a sophisticated way. 
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The fact it’s bloody hard to understand only adds to the fun. In fact, if you ignore the slightly uncomfortable feeling that deadlines conjure up in the pit of your stomach, deadlines are surely one of the creative drivers in our career. 
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We make quick, often inspirational, decisions with little space for dither. We use broad brushstrokes that are charged with a dynamism and energy rarely present at the beginning of a creative project. Deadlines are lifelines here, as the rush to finish on time makes a braver soul of even the most timid artist.
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Six minutes. People working the creative space are used to deadlines, and there are two ways to go. You could attend a time-management courses (who has the time for that!) and coolly stare deadlines down until some wag nicks your calendar. Or, you could embrace deadlines as an evil that means the early parts of projects are luxury, while the later parts are breath-holding nightmares.
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Fifty-three seconds (including quick rewrite). So, forget software, hardware, and inspirational trips to exhibitions – deadlines are the real driver of the creative industry. And the great news: there’s always one that follows this one. And with that, I’m really out of ti…
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