Who has time to be creative?
If you look down the agenda for the day, depending on how tightly packed the blocks of time are, there might only be little gaps where it is possible to run for a biological break. Meetings are set in 30 minute increments and on any given day there may be a dozen topics to be discussed. For some, just making it through an 8 or 10 hour sprint is an accomplishment in and of itself. But, how many days of this kind of grind are realistic?
Maybe more important than the sustainability of this kind of schedule is the bigger question of creativity. After all, we are more than just machines who are expected to process data and attend meetings. The beauty of being able to set your own routine is to carve out time for everything that is important in a day or a week. But, who has time to be creative?
That is to assume that everyone truly understands the importance of creativity in all types of work. Yes, every task humans do could be described to have an element of creativity added in. This is the breeding ground of innovation and also the moment that chaos can enter a workplace. Creativity is many things, but generating new ideas is only the first step as true creativity or innovation comes with all the additional work of making the idea come to life. But honestly, who has time to be creative?
Fortunately, practicing creativity starts with a thought. It is as simple and complicated as that. We can’t schedule in or force creative thinking into a block of time. We can only give it room to flourish, even in an otherwise busy day.
‘Creative thinking may mean simply the realization that there’s no particular virtue in doing things the way they have always been done.’
The better answer to the question of, ‘who has time to be creative?’, might be to throw away the idea that time and creative thinking are linked. They are not dependent on each other either. Creative thought can be given room to grow in every waking moment. No scheduling or other accommodations are required. Just let it start to happen. Creativity Begins With Observation.
Our brain loves novelty. Seeing new things helps to stimulate the formation of connections that might have been hidden otherwise. There are some easy visual hacks to prompt this kind of creative thinking. Something as simple as opening a book on the shelf to a random page or the more complex rearrangement of an entire room. (How To Make Your Home Office More Creative And Productive.)
Everyone is different and understanding how to drop into ‘divergent’ or unconventional thinking is another way to enhance creative thinking. There is Science Behind Why Going For a Walk Helps With Creativity. There it is again, moderate exercise is good for our bodies and brains. But more important than getting outside for a walk is the understanding that this is another touch point where creative thinking occurs.
For me nothing helps get my thoughts flowing better than following my curiosity. This could be allowing for random thoughts or more structured research for big projects I am working on. I need this time to work through various bits of information and get the important ones lined up in an order that makes sense to me. I know this is Why Curiosity Is The Key To Breakthrough Creativity, even though I wouldn’t describe it that way in my day-to-day life.
There is a scene in the movie ‘Hook’ where one of the lost children take the adult version of Peter’s face into their little hands and say, “is that you Peter?” It is meant to convey that the adult version has changed so much from the child as to be unrecognizable. I sometimes think that way about creativity. Now research backs that up.
As children we had creative ideas pop into our heads constantly. Most children still do. The beauty is that during this time of life there is no strong censorship over ideas. That is why you often hear children say the strangest things. The idea or thought springs to life and is realized, instead of being squashed by an adult brain. If we were not self conscious about what other people thought of us, if we could regain the innocence of childhood, so many more good ideas would be floating around.
The beauty of blue sky thinking, as an exercise in generating new ideas is to step back in time to childhood. We must suppress the instant reaction to censor our thoughts. This will take some practice because we have become so quick to reject ideas that we often feel as if blue sky thinking is a skill, exclusive to a select few creative types. It is not an exclusive club, it is open to everyone. The only thing we have to do is start practicing.
The ‘only thing you have to do’, sounds so simple. If creative thinking were so easy, why is it not more common? I think it is, but we don’t tend to give it credit. Unless we are working on something big, a project that will be recognized by others, we tend to diminish the role of creativity. Even so, creativity doesn’t take offense. It lays in wait ready to spring to life. Kind of like caring for a tiny seed in the garden. All we need to do is give it a little water and light. Some seeds will grow well and others will wither away, back to the earth. The trick is not to thin the young plants too soon!
The answer to the question is yes. There is plenty of time to be creative in how we think. Every moment in fact. I only find that some moments are truly more productive than others. Mornings are my best. As my energy levels diminish throughout the day I change to more passive activities. I consume more content. But, that is OK as I have found my best rhythm. I have stopped judging myself on what is right for others. I stay focused on doing my best.