When I am first given a new project ideas start going through my head as the brief is being explained, not necessarily good ones but they are starting to be had. Before the brief is even fully shared I may start to do quick thumbnails or at least jot down ideas in writing. After the brief is fully completed and free time is given, this is when my worst quality kicks in, I seem to need a break from all the "hard work" I have already done and check my social media sites as well as my email, in other words procrastinate. This then leads to a bit of distraction and maybe even ideas lost along the way, but also a few found. After a couple days of working on other remaining for the week, I then glace back at the project assigned. I might talk to friends and family about ideas and ask for thoughts and opinions, this can be an advantage or a disadvantage, so be careful who you talk to.
After the process has occurred I then start working on my project. This could mean by creating more refined thumbnails. I find this gives me the structure I need in order to start working with illustrator or photoshop. If I run into a problem along the way I usually attempt to solve it by taking a break. What I have noticed as a designer, especially as an artist or even in life, is when you come to a problem that really seems to tick you off the best thing to do is step back. When you come back to your situation, you are in a better mind set and have a whole new perspective. However, if this does not work when designing the next step I take is to again research the internet or inspiring ideas I have collected and saved into a folder on my Mac. Hopefully my problem is solved and I can actually get some of that stuff designers never seem to get - sleep.