Why You Should Schedule Time For Creativity

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The whole idea of creativity and being creative is underestimated in today’s world.

We all think we’re not creative or can’t think of original ideas but that’s not the case.

There are many definitions of creativity everywhere you look.

Simply put, being creative is about being able to combine things in new ways to produce different things.

This is such a powerful concept and one that you can apply to almost any discipline.

What’s more, creativity is like a muscle. The more you “exercise” it, the better you’ll be at being creative and coming up with new ideas.

With that in mind, I wanted to write this article to share with you the value of “scheduled creativity time”.

I’ll talk about what this involves and the many benefits it can have in your life, whether it be personal or professional.

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The Life Of A Knowledge Worker/Creative Worker

You may have already heard of the term knowledge worker.

I also like the term creative worker as this fits in with my current situation.

Today’s creative workers are living in a “create on-demand” environment.

A creative worker is anyone that is paid to create for a living. This includes UI designers, web developers, bloggers, podcasters, or YouTubers just as examples.

They are paid for the creative insights they have and the things they produce from that creative spark.

As a UI Designer and someone who creates articles on this website, I fall into this category of a creative worker.


Creative Productivity Isn’t Always At 100%

It’s important to realize that your creative productivity isn’t always at 100%.

It ebbs and flows like waves at the beach, leaving you with periods of creative insight but also periods where you can’t think yourself out of a paper bag.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of constant idea churning. This is caused by the tension created from being expected to crank out widgets like robots on a conveyor belt.

When you ignore your creative rhythm in this way, you’re failing to manage your energy in the right way. This is the fastest way to run into burnout.

Experiencing burn out can further impact your ability to be creative or even to do the basics required to work effectively.

With that in mind, you shouldn’t put too much pressure on yourself to come up with amazing and brilliant ideas at the drop of a hat.

Recognize that creative insights will come in waves and that by developing your creative muscle you can have a wealth of creative insights to draw from when the tide is out and creativity is low.


The Benefit Of Scheduled Creativity

Scheduling time for creativity each week will provide you with an outlet for your creativity and curiosity.

You’ll have a chance, without any pressure or deadlines, to explore things that you are interested in.

I already mentioned that your creativity is like a muscle. With continued practice, you can develop it to be more effective and therefore be more creative.

By establishing a weekly routine for this creativity, you’ll develop the habit of being able to generate creative insights more effectively.

The more you practice, the better you’ll become.

Additionally, the more creative insights that you develop, the more you’ll have to draw from the next time you need to create something for work or somewhere else.

You can also apply the things you learn and discover to other aspects of your life if you pay close enough attention to them.


Steps To Establish A Scheduled Creativity Routine

By now we’ve talked about scheduled creativity but we haven’t looked at defining it in great detail.

Let’s demystify the process in this section and step through how you can establish a creativity routine:

  • The truth is, you can do anything you want so long as you are creating something.
    • Pick an activity that you enjoy doing and one that doesn’t have a time-frame for completion.
    • This can be drawing, creating mind-maps, gardening, whatever!
  • Once you’ve picked something, the next thing is to define the time to work on it.
    • 1-2 hours per week is ideal but pick a time and duration that works for you.
    • Block this time off in your calendar to remind you.
  • Next, define the structure + constraints of your creative time.
    • This shouldn’t be too restrictive but writing down the structure of your creative time can allow you to have more clarity.
    • Ensuring clarity is the key to avoiding procrastination.
    • What’s more, removing distractions from your creative time can allow you to get into the flow and perform deep work.
  • Some examples of structure and constraints include:
    • No phone use during creative time
    • Disconnect from the internet during creative time
    • No checking social media during creative time
  • Keep a project list for things to work on during this time
    • This allows you to pick from a list and get right into creating.
  • Work on a few creative projects at the same time.
    • By doing this, you can see how a similar issue or idea from one project can be solved or applied to another project.
    • You’ll be able to find new ideas that you wouldn’t have thought of before.
  • Reflect on and share what you create.
    • I’ll talk more about this part in the next section.

Reflect On And Share What You Create

Regular reflection is a great way to look back on what you’ve done and plan for how you can improve.

This is at the core of the concept of Kaizen which in Japanese means “change for better”.

By taking a step back to think about what you could improve on during your next scheduled creativity time, you’re setting yourself up for success.

You’re putting yourself way ahead of the competition.

Here’s a great quote from The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carrol which sums this up:

“If we forfeit the opportunity to learn from our experiences, as the saying (sort of) goes, we condemn ourselves to repeat our mistakes.”

In addition to this, reflection has a tremendous benefit on your ability to be creative and generate new ideas.

The process of reflection is one of the ways to build your creativity muscles.

Reflecting on what you’ve learned or created will allow your mind to make new connections to things you wouldn’t have thought of previously.

Another way of looking at this is that reflection allows you to connect the dots between different thoughts and ideas in your mind to create new insights.

I wrote more about reflection in this article if you’d like to learn more:

Why Regular Reflection Can Help You Become More Productive

Ways To Reflect

A great method of reflection is documenting what you’re working on, creating, or learning during your creative time.

By writing down these things as they happen, you’ll be able to refer them later.

Looking back on these notes at a later date will give you the mental space to think about them objectively.

You might be surprised at the creative insights that jump out at you when reading back over your notes.

Learning & Sharing In Public

Sharing what you create with friends and on social media is a powerful way of generating feedback.

Feedback is a crucial step in the learning and developing process. It allows you to consider things from a different perspective.

By taking on board constructive criticism and incorporating it back into your work, you will become better over time.

If what you’re sharing is interesting to others, you will develop an audience of people that enjoy your work.

Your work might even inspire others to try something similar for themselves.


Build Upon Your Creative Output

The final piece of the puzzle is that constructing small pieces of creative output over time can snowball into something much bigger:

  • You could write enough to produce a book
  • You could learn enough to create an online course that helps others
  • You could build a new product that can be sold to others to help solve their problems

If you’re consistent with your creative time and leverage it in the right way, there are endless possibilities.

“The real gap is between doing nothing and doing something.” - Show Your Work


Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed reading what I had to share on the concept of scheduled creativity.

I find a lot of value in this concept and have found the process beneficial in my work and creative endeavors.

If you found some value in reading this article, let me know over on Twitter.

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