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Does Productivity Leave Enough Time for Creative Thinking?

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Thinking as an entrepreneur or creative, we continually want to advance our best work. But there may be a danger in becoming so attached to productivity that we miss a core part of the creative process.

Where is the balance between getting stuff done and dreaming stuff up?

This was a topic of conversation from Season 1 of the Tracking Wonder Podcast with Charlie Gilkey and Ishita Gupta.

We each have different creative processes and temperaments.

It’s my contention that you need to understand your own temperament and even your own creative process on a continuous basis, in order to finesse your ability to get stuff done versus just dream stuff up.

There are others who argue that dreamers wallow in dreaming and never get their work done.

In our upcoming roundtable discussion, we’ll explore the contention that coming up with ideas isn’t what matters but rather moving from idea to done is what is important.

Even Scott Belsky the founder of Behance, a site for creatives to showcase their work, promotes a productivity-driven approach in his book, Making Ideas Happen.

This is a worthwhile point of view for people who can get stuck in analysis paralysis. It’s a driven mindset helpful in kickstarting people into action. Taking this approach can help overcome the emotional and psychological resistances hold them back.

On the other hand when we’re perpetuating a culture and society that focuses on productivity and getting stuff done, we risk forsaking vast parts of what makes us human and the parts that make us effective as creatives, entrepreneurs, and change makers.

We are by nature, dreamers.

The cognitive quality of dreaming – the actual cognitive state of dreaming which includes daydreaming – is when your awareness is just on the cusp of the conscious and unconscious. It’s a state that Einstein, Edison, and a slew of other innovators cultivated in order to incubate their ideas, and access part of their awareness that a “get-stuff-done” mentality alone will not achieve.

In the field of psychology, there is a focus mode and diffuse mode.

Focus mode is the ability to exclude all other stimuli. Like when you’re in a crowded cafe and you can tune out all the sound and every distraction – you’re in focus mode.

Diffuse mode is being in a relaxed state of awareness, like being aware of the distant hum of water flowing as you walk through the woods, or the call of a crow, an airplane passing overhead, the coolness of the air on your face. This mode allows you to take in more sensory stimuli and can be effective in helping to solve problems.

So as we advance our best work in the next year, how do we each learn about our own temperaments and continuously fashion our best work rhythms and creative rhythms to continue to get stuff done and to dream stuff up?

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  1. The razor’s edge of balance comes at every stage of life. I have been deep in process on so many levels for years. This month I am creating a grounded clear space for productivity. So much of my time in the past 12 years has been to create and produce along the way of a very deep journey that has been a major part of my work and life. I look forward to balancing both this year. I find that my inner creative self is operating all the time not just in meditation, writing or teaching and working with others. I live alone on purpose so it may be easier for me.
    I have been working part time in the world again after 17 years full time teaching and healing and creating. It has been amazing to bring back my business self and the one who operates as a spiritual loving business person. This has put me in the place of working with my very productive and creative daughter and bridging it all for her business and mine.
    I look forward to this year with the group as we all walk our walk together on our own. As I look at my website I see that it is going to transform completely-finally, as I feel the new level of the same work coming through me and what I do and be will be clear and unique again. Blessings, Janet StraightArrow

  2. Hi, Janet:
    It sounds as if you’re refining your business artist rhythms for this stage in your thought leader arc. And bravo to the mother-daughter collaboration! i look forward to witnessing how you show up this year.