Many people recognize their creativity. They recognize the multitude of ideas they have. What they may not have realized is their flow of productivity. The result is a highly creative, yet disappointed individual with an enormous store of unrealized potential. The solution is much more a perspective shift with attending behaviors than it is a simple behavior change.
The perspective in 4 steps is:
- Identify a product to produce.
- Identify the elements of your product that you can produce.
- Feed a productive lifestyle.
- Schedule time to be productive, even 30 minutes a day.
Allow me to explain each of these utilizing the example of a Writer producing a Book.
Identify the Product
You want to be a writer. You have a number of stories rolling around in your mind. You are hindered by the daunting task of writing a feature length novel. You have seen that novels can be as many as 300 pages. You are intimidated to think of even writing 100 pages.
Let us address that with granularity. When writing a book, the number of pages is not the first thing to consider. You must first outline the story that you want to tell. Organize it with a beginning, middle, and end. Ask yourself about story arc, characters, the journey, and key dialogue. All these elements should begin to provide a view of how large the product will be.
Once you have the beginning, middle, and end, conceptualize the chapters you will need in each section to provide a clear sequence of the story. A typical story of average sized chapters will have as many as 5 chapters per section. Now, realize that your 150 page book is now 15, 10-page chapters. After outlining, you only have to write a 10-page paper. This is much more doable.
Your product may not be a book, but the point is still valid. Put your finger on what it is you can produce. Break it down into manageable parts. Chip away at the parts systematically.
The task is to think through the different activities and thoughts that are part and parcel of the product development process.
For example, if your product is a book, you must think through the story line, characters, journey outline, moral/message/feeling, and style of progression. Here is the solution: Even if you are not feeling the urge to produce by writing, you can draw out the story arch. You can produce character profiles. You can explore journey outlines. You can work through dialogue pieces that represent your moral/message/feeling. You can also read other authors, watch other stories in movies or television and refine your style of story progression.
This task of identifying elements gives you a clear sense of what you DO NOT KNOW as well as what you DO KNOW. Rather than shrinking at the task of learning something new, embrace the challenge with a positive view of networking. Connect with others who share your passion or at least own a passion for helping you learn.
Feed Your Passion
Subscribe to something: Web, Magazine, Blogs, or People who inspire or provide technical skill for your production. Just like surrounding yourself with friends that inspire you, your world should be full of media that serves both to remind you of your production requirement and educate you into increased competence.
Informed by what you know and what you do not know, continue to build and expand in both areas. Explore the latest and the newest reflecting on the traditional and time-tested in the areas that you feel competent in. Schedule time to learn and be challenged in the areas that you identified for development and collaboration.
In both cases, approach your learning as a meal. Feed your passion. Ensure that your meal is balanced with information, exercises, and application in real projects. Make the feeding daily as if your project would be malnourished without time. Keep the project lean by expelling waste and producing prototypes for dissemination.
Schedule “Must Do” Time
Nothing replaces the reality that, at some point, you just have to DO.
I recommend setting aside time first thing in the morning. Some may mistakenly interpret that as “early in the morning.” It is not my place to say how early in the morning it is. I only know that the benefits of exercise and productivity are best for mental health if completed first thing in the morning. Productivity makes the whole day go better. It offers a more restful sleep. Try it and prove me wrong (if you can).
I know quite a few people who lie in bed until the absolute last minute in the morning. I suggest that, if this is you, evaluate your sleep patterns. A normal sleep cycle will cause you to wake on a predictable schedule. If this is not your experience, you may not have enough routine in your sleep habits. Train your body by routinizing exercise, eating, work, AND bed time scheduling. Your body will resolve to awaken routinely as well.
Find creative ways that you can contribute to productivity even though you remain in bed. For example, writing and element productivity can be done via your phone while you lay in bed. Many phones today have automatic sync functions, meaning that they automatically save to your computer what you have typed on your phone. Use these tools and others to address your first-thing-in-the-morning requirement.
Another technique could be to exercise while you put in your time in the morning. As little as 30-minutes of squats or treadmill walking while you watch an instructional video or listen to a CD would be productive. I like to ride a stationary bike while watching trainings. I have practiced to the point where I can also type on my phone while riding. Many phones and tablets have a voice-typing feature, which can be useful to those who haven’t mastered the ride and type method.
Bottom line, being creative does not naturally result in being productive. Productivity requires some discipline, but also a change in perspective. My wish for you is that your potential is realized. May your flow of productivity achieve your goals and refresh the world.