Leonardo, Michelangelo, Bernini, Raphael. These are the great artists of our history and of the Renaissance. Have you ever wandered how they accomplished so much in such short times. While their projects themselves may not have been short in creation, the amount of projects they accomplished is astounding. They would finish one and immediately start another. How did they accomplish so much in their lives with their artistry? I believe it had something to do with their lack of distractions and limited communication channels. Think about it…If you wanted to talk to Leonardo about something, you had to go see him. There was no email, snail-mail, computers, SMS, MMS, etc… Therefore, thier interruptions were far less than what we deal with today.
It used to be that if I had a list of things that I wanted to accomplish, or needed to get done, I would simply get through them and allow myself to have “creative” time on the back end when everything was done. Those days are long gone and now I believe it is imperitive that I schedule creativity. I realize that sounds oxymoronic in nature, but I am finding that it is the only way to ensure I stay creative. The creative muscle is no different from the muscles in your body…if you fail to exercise it, it will become weaker, and not as functional. You MUST exercise that muscle, and I believe in order to do that, you must schedule that time. Just as you would a meeting, just as you do you gym time (which you SHOULD do). Richard Florida talks about the creative mind in his book “The Rise of the Creative Class.” Its a great anylization of creative people and how they work. We are plagued. You can’t turn off creativity. It happens in the shower, in the bed at 4am when you wake up, riding in your car. But, it can be stifled by daily administrative duties and you’re left with the rest of the day to think about those things. Now lets add another dynamic into this situation….A Dad and a husband. If it were just me, I could work in the office all day, come home and let the creative juices flow and sit down and arrange, produce, create, write and everything else inbetween. But you know what I need to do when I come home? Spend time with my girls and my wife. So coming home and spending “creative” time there isn’t the best option. Somethings can’t be helped. You get a breakthrough on a particular conundrum thats been reaking havoc on your mind and you need to write it down. But most of the time, it can be controlled and limited, for the sake of your family. Like Don Draper says: “Think intently and purposefully on it….then forget about it; the solution will present itself.”
Here’s what I’m getting at… Plan to be creative when you can. You can’t turn your brain off, but you can control your calendar. Block off sometime to handle the things that need your creative energy; and not just 1 hour. You need a few, un-interrupted hours to let the ideas take shape and show themselves. If your job is a blend of the administrative with the creative (like mine), this is a must. Plan to be creative. Exercise that muscle and guard that time or else you’ll end up being weak and wonder why you’re not creative anymore.