Do Less, Boost Your Creativity

By November 8, 2011

“The zipper displaces the button and a man lacks just that much time to think while dressing at dawn, a philosophical hour…”  – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

A moment of solitude is hard to find these days, no matter who you are. We are constantly connected, engaged, or distracted by technology. Speed is our first priority. Who can turn out the most product at the lowest price in the least time? We collaborate on documents simultaneously while stationed around the globe. We check our inboxes as we roll out of bed, throughout the day, and one last time before turning off the lights. Our jobs, families, and social lives demand it.

In both our personal and professional lives, every day is a new challenge. Whether our goals are based in profits or something more profound, we don’t set out to do as others have done — we take our individual experiences, thoughts, and ideas, and we build upon others’ accomplishments for the better.

Creativity is essential. But not everyone is creative. Creative people aren’t lazy — they go above and beyond in seeking out information, as they are naturally curious. Their diverse interests allow them to make the abstract connections between seemingly unrelated thoughts that define innovation. Unfortunately, even as technology has allowed us to work more efficiently than ever before, it has saturated our lives to the point that it is inhibiting our ability to think creatively.

The creative process is well-studied. The first two steps involve gathering and weighing information. Since you’ve read this far, you probably have those down. Unfortunately, for that same reason, you probably haven’t given the third step its due. Step three is incubation. You walk away from the subject completely. You let your mind digest.

It’s proven that employees who are allowed to practice yoga during the work day are more productive. Still not sold? Ever had a really good idea while taking a shower? When your mind is at ease, something inexplicable happens. And creative thought depends upon that inexplicable process.

Eat lunch by yourself outside. Go for a run without your headphones in. Turn off your phone and computer, and sit down in your office for five minutes with your feet on your desk. For those five minutes, your competition will be working harder than you, but you’ll be working smarter.

In those five minutes, you may suddenly realize how to resolve a dispute at home or in the office. You may finally have the break-through insight that drives a project forward. You may do nothing more than realize that you like spending time alone with yourself. You’ll be more at ease, and wisdom will result. Something good will happen.

Image Credit: TBTAOTW2011jaliyaj