Whether you are working through a strategic marketing plan, developing a beautiful graphic design project, or writing a helpful blog post, the creative process can be lengthy and daunting. This is especially true when it comes down to client deliverables and tight deadlines. From conceptualization to execution, there are a number of important steps in the process that will actually help you push through once you think of them as such. Below are the TACK10 Tuesday Top 10 Tips to Manage the Creative Process.

1. Brainstorm
Before you start creating, jot all of your ideas down on paper (or in a Word document) and use them to visualize which ones will work best for the project at hand. Be sure not to throw away the ideas that did not make the cut, as they may be repurposed later when they are more relevant. As you work through your project, keep a log of ideas as they come up, so as to not lose them as you go.

2. Collaborate
If your team is available to help you with brainstorming or whenever you hit a roadblock in the process, invite their help! There are people you work with every day who probably have different skill sets and experiences than you do, and they can likely help you work through your project in different capacities.

3. Leverage Tools
If you are working on multiple projects at the same time, or work best when you can take a break after a while, leverage online tools that are available to you. Productivity apps can be a great asset when working through the creative process, and are generally customizable based on your unique needs. These ten productivity apps come from a past TACK10 Tuesday Top!

4. Create Early Deadlines
Deadlines are important, not only for ensuring your work is completed on time, but for positioning yourself and your business as dependable to your clients and partners. If a major deadline is looming, make yourself smaller, earlier deadlines throughout the project to keep yourself on track. Big proposal due on Thursday? Work toward finalizing it at least by Wednesday morning, with enough time for a thorough review.

5. Do Not Fear Judgement
In order to be truly creative, it is important to think outside the box and develop ideas without the fear of judgement. While it is important to make sure your project is rooted in its core objectives and relates to the overall brand message, let your creative juices flow without worrying about what the person reading or experiencing it might think of your creativity. Revisions will likely need to be made, but think of those only as they come.

6. Start Rough, Then Refine
From grammar and punctuation to layout and design, there are details specific to a project that are equally as important as the content, but that can generally come later on in the process. Do not be afraid of creating a rough draft before refining these details. Projects often move fastest when they are broken up into prioritized segments that start with taking pen to paper, and end with refining details.

7. Work Around Distractions
It has been long thought that distractions kill productivity. Now that we live in a digital-first world and are constantly connected, it is very difficult to become completely shut off from distractions. As such, most of us have learned how to work around distractions in a way that turns things like music, emails and social media into assets that help us focus on what is important. The key here is to leverage these “distractions” in a way that works for you.

8. Keep Your Audience in Mind
Once a project kicks off and the creative juices start flowing, it can be easy to get so caught up in the development stages that you start writing or creating for yourself, and not for your audience. In any piece of content, it is extremely important to keep the audience in mind as they are the ones who will be served the content, will react to it, and will ideally share it among their networks, leading to growth.

9. Edit and Receive Feedback
As much as you may want to send your project off and get it out of your hands as soon as possible once the meat of it is completed, it is important to take a moment to edit your own work. Not only will you certainly catch missed details or broken trains of thought, you will ensure it is your best work that is moving forward in the production line. When you receive feedback from colleagues or team leads, trust that their feedback will bring your project to the next level before sending off to the client or publishing the final product.

10. Develop Your Own Process
While all of these tips are meant to help you work through the creative process no matter what your project may be, it is important to keep in mind that every person has their own methods and enjoys working differently. Maybe you are able to completely shut down distractions without the help of an online tool, or work best without a preliminary brainstorming session. That is perfectly fine! The key in managing the creative process is to use it to your advantage, leveraging its steps to push you along the way.