Personally, I love how email works. You see, I can be sitting here and just like that I’ll get an email from a friend (thanks Brian!) with an awesome question like:
“How do creativity and productivity relate to one another?"
Ok, so I’m going to be very transparent with you: They’re tied together like the strands of wire that create the cables that suspend the Golden Gate Bridge.
That’s how they’re related...
Now, I can almost see you from there. You just rolled your eyes. You’re thinking something like, “But Jason, I want to be free to create. Being productive - even just thinking about being productive - pulls me out of my creative space.
In the book, “Your Best Just Got Better,” I wrote:
We use words and phrases to let others know what we think about creativity, possibility, goals, even our own performance preferences and methods.
Consider even a casual conversation like this one:
Friend 1: “Hey, how are ya?”
Friend 2: “Not bad. How are you?”
Friend 1: “Busy. Seems like I’m always behind. Too much to do, you know?”
Friend 2: “Oh, wow, I know. I’m completely stressed, too. In fact, just last week I had to . . .”
Try to be creative, without being productive.
And, try to be productive, without being creative.
I think what we’re facing isn’t a defining issue; I believe we’re facing a meaning issue...
Let me share a story... Just last week, Jodi and I were DEEP in a discussion (ok, it was on the verge of an argument) about a single aspect of our business that was causing us stress. (If you really want to test the value and strength of your relationship with your partner, start a business together. It's awesome!)
We were facing a deadline, and we needed to “be productive” quickly. So, what did we do? We talked “about” producing; we didn’t try to produce. Did you catch the subtle difference? We gave ourselves benefit of thinking before doing. We stood in front of my office white board and filled it with ideas, possible avenues, and a brainswarming process of idea generation.
Then what did I do? I sat at my desk, and I organized that thinking. Again, I wasn’t doing…I was dancing in the space between “Productivity” and “Creativity.” Do you give yourself that gift? I call it, “Put it where I’ll find it again."
It took about 30 minutes. I loaded up my “Evernote” notebooks and stacks with all kinds of tasks, projects, outcomes, areas of focus, and then...
And then we returned to the table where the discussion began. (It WAS about 3 hours later…) There, in about 15 minutes we uncovered a solution to the part of a project that was driving us crazy. It was a SIMPLE solution, so simple in fact that had we just focused on “being creative” or “being productive,” I don’t think we would have found it.
You see, for me the SOLE purpose of "Being Creative" is NOT to actually produce anything.
Production, productivity, producing something is actually pretty easy.
To me, thinking is one of the most critical components of creativity. I've got to let myself have the time, the space, and even the tools to THINK and then I can be a bit more creative. When I’m overwhelmed by the unfinished, in motion, disorganized “stuff” all around, I simply can’t do that.
And, when it comes to producing, I need to stop - one a week or once a month at the minimum - and think…create…dream…wonder.
- Creativity: the use of the imagination or original ideas
- Create: cause (something) to happen as a result of one's actions
- Productivity: the state or quality of producing something
- Producing: cause (a particular result or situation) to happen or come into existence
The best thing I ever did, and I suggest you do this too, is to study what the meaning behind those words is to me...
What do YOU want to create…and, what do you want to produce?