Set Yourself Limits to Think Outside the Box


What does it mean to think outside the box? When you create a website it’s usually very tempting to go all out on every single thing you do. From the buttons with perfect :hover, :active and :focus effects to patterned background images that give an amazing feeling of depth. However the problem you’ll start to face when doing this is that after a while you have nothing left to give and start getting stuck for ideas quite a lot of the time. The solution? Always leave something in the tank, (by way of ideas, not energy or enthusiasm), because the next time you come up against the same problem, or even a problem that’s just similar, you’ll have something to go with straight away, and trust me nothing gets the creative juices flowing even faster than constant ideas and solutions.

The Pros and Cons of Holding Back

Now I understand that there are going to be times when it may seem like a terrible idea to hold back on an idea that can provide real functionality and better user experience than anything else you’ve thought of or come across, that’s not what I mean. When something is an improvement then go with, don’t just keep it to yourself or try to forget about it. Just try to remember to think it through before getting so far ahead of yourself that it’s a long road to get back to where you were.

There are certain situations when you have a moment where your brain just clicks into overdrive and an amazing new concept pops up out of nowhere. The main thing you need to go back to here is thinking to yourself:

Is this going to improve or hinder what’s already there?

The above is going to save you a hell of a lot of time in the long run.

You also have to remember that just because you don’t have much long-term faith in this amazing new idea of yours, that isn’t to say that others won’t. I for one am the sort of person who may sometimes stop myself from doing something because I’m unsure of the outcome, but if you only ever go with idea or activities where you can guarantee what’s going to happen then innovation is going to take a major backseat.

Set Yourself Limits

The one thing that I’ve found hardest about being a web designer is setting myself boundaries and limitations in what I do. A co-worker of mine once said that

…code is never perfect the first time around…

Which is also true for design and almost any other type of online creation. Once you realise that you’re probably going to have to go back to things, maybe more than once, you start to alleviate some of the pressure you put on yourself on a daily basis. The sort of pressure that’s always striving for perfection the first time around, which let’s face it hardly ever happens.

Let Your Mind Free…On Occasion

So you’ve been keeping yourself at bay for a while and the creativity is bubbling inside your mind, now is a perfect time to tackle something tricky which is going to require some out-of-the-box thinking because you’ll hardly have any creative limits.

Trust me, if you do this you’ll start to see how holding back a little can really help.

Your brain is so powerful yet it does have limits, and those limits are set by you. A lot of the time I see people struggling to live up to their true potential because they set themselves limitations without even knowing it. That’s a problem. However when you realise the limitations you set for yourself you also have the powe to lift them as well, unleashing all that creativity and all around awesomeness that’s inside of you.

You Don’t Fill up a Car One Litre at a Time

In England, where I’m from, we fill our cars and engines up by the litre where as in america I know people a more used to gallons. The principal still applies here. When you fill up a car in one go then it’ll run for a very long time at full capacity but filling it up a tiny bit every day isn’t going to work so well. The same applies to making websites, if you can charge your brain up over time then when you need it it’ll be there but if you use your creativity every day then you’ll have none left when the time comes.


I think the main thing to take away from this article is that letting your mind free and thinking outside-the-box is a very, very good thing, however in moderation it provides miles better value to your creativity and also helps you to tackle the bigger, more difficult problems faster and much more effectively.


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