Tapping into Creative Collaboration

tracking wonder - collaborate

Collaboration, it turns out, is essential for creative productivity and innovation.

The New York socialite Mabel Dodge knew something about putting talented, engaging people from different backgrounds and creative media in the same room. With the right atmosphere and combination of people, ideas could ignite that might inspire creative action (including even, a few love affairs). Read more

Basecamp Templates: A Delightful Time-Saver

Image: Unsplash

Image: Unsplash

Guest Post by Erin Haworth, Tracking Wonder’s Systems Shark

The Remote Team’s Time Challenges

I’m fortunate to be Tracking Wonder’s operations manager and overseer of a dynamo team of remote contractors. It’s common for three or four team members to be working on one client’s brand story, strategy, website and online assets at any given time.

Projects like these require lots of coordination and lots of collaboration. But that’s not a simple task considering our team doesn’t work from a single brick-and-mortar studio. We need an entire team to operate on the same page even though we span 4 time zones, 6 states, and 2 countries.

Our projects also require we be responsive to each other and to our clients in a timely fashion. Again, not easy. But that’s what I do at Tracking Wonder – I track problems until I find a viable solution. Read more

12 Riffs to Help Boost Creativity & Shape Time

Boost Creativity Shape Time

I know that finding time to do the stuff you’re most passionate about is hard.

In these times, it’s hard to ignore the shifting cultural causes that call you to act.

As creative thinkers conventional planners and time management systems don’t cut it. Neither do random sticky notes plastered on your computer.

In light of this fact, I created a productivity tool and time management system designed for professionals, thought leaders, business owners, and creatives called the Mind Rooms Guide. It’s been developed based on the psychology of creative thinking and productivity.

Here are some thoughts on how to boost creativity and Shape Time to Act.


In 1944, Miklos Radnoti knew the Nazis would shoot him and the other Jews marching across Hungary any day, any hour. When his wife later had his body exhumed from a mass grave, they would find a notebook of poems tucked in his field jacket’s pocket. Somehow, he stealthed out a pen, the sound of gunfire rattling like bones, and wrote a series of poems.

Radnoti’s persistence is a haunting reminder of my mortality, of this odyssey’s limited time.

The pressure of time, the fact of mortality, the real dead line, compels me to create, and to create with awareness and intention.


All of us creatives tango with time. Most creatives cannot wait until their kids go off to college or until retirement or until divorce or until they quit a job to begin their real work. Gratified creatives with packed lives create before the family gets up or in “pockets of time” – on the subway or in the forty-eight minutes between when their children have fallen asleep and before they themselves fall asleep.

One way or another, we’d be wise to make peace with time, stop fighting it, and avoid bemoaning its scarcity. There’s plenty of time to be had, it turns out, and if we can’t change the way chronological time works, then we can change the way we work with it.

Instead of managing time like some begrudged worker, we can shape it. Think of yourself as a potter more than a manager.

To show up and shape time as a creative has less to do with calendars and more to do with loving the mind. And the body.

Creativity is not about waiting for the muse – despite Elizabeth Gilbert’s charming spin on the Greek muse.

Creativity is about showing up and shaping time for the muse. Read more

How to Stop Fighting Time

dude at desk

We business artists are blessed and cursed with a generative mind – the ability to come up with lots of ideas.

You may be feeling the effect of shifting cultural causes calling you to act. How do you find the time in an already profoundly packed schedule for your deep creative work?

Sunni Brown, named one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business, nailed the problem this way: “Discerning which opportunities to pursue has been a bogeyman in my creative work for years. I just couldn’t settle on the criteria for choosing.”

Read more

How to Take Breaks That Improve Creativity & Productivity

tracking wonder relax for productivity

Finding time to do your most creative work is hard.

An optimal work-and-create flow is an extended period of time in which your mind and body are performing at their best when engaged in high-thinking and high-imagining tasks and projects. You sustain focus, your body’s fire stays stoked, your attitude flourishes, your imagination hangs from the monkey bars.

It’s pretty typical to get overwhelmed by obligations and tasks that don’t leave much time for the projects that light us up.

In light of today’s cultural causes, now more than ever you may be feeling called to act.

But most of us know that pulling all-nighters and pumping our bodies with caffeine does not an optimal work-and-create flow make. Read more

Join the #Quest2017Chat Conversation

content creator, community, thought leader, business owner, blogger

We have a lot of work to do for our future, but have you noticed how difficult it is to get perspective on your vision for your future when you’re just spinning in your own cognitive cog? You probably wouldn’t think a TwitterChat is what you need, but then again consider this.

I find truth in conversation. In working with so many thought leaders and influencers, I realize that – introvert, extrovert, or ambivert – when we speak up, we find clarity. We discover new directions when we tell our visions out loud.

With an open ear and a supportive reply, we give other people the courage to live their visions with commitment.

Can you start that kind of conversation in 140 characters or less at a time? I think it’s worth a try. Read more

The Truth About Having Time to Create

Why don’t we create as much as we want? What’s the one thing that keeps most Americans from being able to create?

If you look at the results from the research firm StrategyOne, you will get one part of the story. The firm surveyed 5,000 adults – 1,000 each in the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and Japan – in 2012 about their attitudes and beliefs toward creativity and published the results in the state of create study.

85% of Americans surveyed believe that creativity is key to driving economic growth.

Two-thirds believe that being creative is valuable to society.

75% value their own creativity in resolving personal and professional problems.

But here’s where it gets interesting: Only 25% feel they live up to their creative potential.

Why?  Read more

myth: the creative life is romantic & problem-free (video teaser)

I delivered a talk – The Creative Mindset at Work – to about 70 executives, presidents, and administrators of non-profit grant making organizations and of grant-making regional associations. (See video teaser below.) These status quo-shakers and dream-makers had gathered in Pittsburgh for The Giving Forum’s annual conference.

When I surveyed some of the attendees ahead of time to ascertain their views and their daily realities, I quickly spotted a myth. “Our days are spent fixing technology problems, responding to board members’ needs, and preparing for meetings,” one participant told me via email. “Hardly the climate for creativity.”

I hear that complaint often. I get it. Have felt it. But the view that being creative day-in, day-out equates to escaping problems and having time on your hands is inaccurate and self-defeating. If you’re curious about this & other myths of creativity, keep reading and share your views in the comments below.  Read more

The Problem-Solving Paradox of Creativity

Illustration of one of my articles by @ottsatwork

If you avoid problems, you’re not working in a creative mindset. If you seek solutions, you’re not working in a creative mindset. This problem-solution paradox is another contradiction I’ve discovered in the science of creativity.

You can read more about it in the article I posted today for Psychology Today.

 I’ll address this problem-solving, problem-solution paradox at a talk this week. This Wednesday I’ll deliver an interactive talk on The Creative Mindset at Work at the Annual Giving Forum Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. People in the non-profit business of training NPO grant makers to NPO’s around the nation will be attending.

I’m thrilled to talk and work with this group because this is where I thrive: helping people and teams work more optimally with greater pleasure & gratification via a creative mindset.

Speaking of which, I’d love to hear what “problems” you face with your own problem-tracking – and your own under-focus and hyper-focus on problem-solving.

(Note to self: Is there such a thing as problem-dissolving?)

See you in the woods,

In Memoriam: To the man who gave me my first notebook at 6, my first typewriter at 10, & my first audio recorder at 11 and who encouraged me early on as a creative problem-solver, Jimmy “JD” Davis, July 22, 1938-July 19, 2012



Mastering Your Creative Work Flow from the Inside-Out

A Webinar Series for Creatives, Creative Professionals, & Entrepreneurs

I’m offering a mini-course in direct response to what some of you have told me you need.

Many of you have more ideas than you’ll ever execute in this one wild lifetime. How do you capture and do something with the ideas that matter most? And how do you handle unexpected emergencies that arrive like unbidden creative party crashers and throw you off-track?

Despite your good efforts, sweat, your “get things done” mentality, you have lack of time, lack of energy, lack of focus.

The truth is, sustaining momentum is difficult.  It’s messy. But you do not have to be an uber-focused, superhero creative or enterpriser to flourish and manifest your projects.

But you can own your method. You can craft a flexible create-n-work flow system that does more than simply help you work more. It helps you work wisely and in alliance with your core values.

You can aim to master your flow.

Pursuing mastery is not about perfection or performance. Pursuing mastery is about intentionally partnering with your mind and your methods. Pursuing mastery is about deliberately testing out what works for you and being honest about what doesn’t.

And it’s about having compassion for your best self when your best laid plans go awry.

Read more