A Creative’s Brief Guide to Productivity
Maintaining productivity at a rapid but high quality level is a daunting task. It can seem overwhelming to even try to begin. How can you keep yourself going without burning out? How do you know that you’re heading down the right road with whatever new initiative you’ve got in your brain? Where should you begin? Are you just crazy?
Overcoming doubt and hesitation about creative endeavors — blogging, making videos, coming up with new products — can seem overwhelming in and of itself. Let’s look at tried and true successful techniques and methodologies for maintaining that productivity that you need in order to be profitable in a highly competitive world.
Cut to the chase.
A super-successful creative man named Neil Peart, who is widely regarded as one of the very best percussionists and one of the very best writers (lyric poetry, essays, and autobiographical writing) in the world, wrote a lyric for his band Rush back in 1994 which stated: “You may be right:/It’s just a waste of time./I guess that’s just the chance I’m prepared to take,/A danger I’m prepared to face./Cut to the chase.” Don’t get lost in hesitation. Trust yourself to begin creating with whatever new writing, content, or product idea you’ve got. If you’re a making a mistake with it, so what? You’ll find out about that and be able to correct it or learn from it a lot faster when you just cut to the chase.
Build foundations under your fantasy castles in the air.
Henry David Thoreau wrote: “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost. There is where they should be. Now put foundations under them.” Fantasy is extremely important to the creative life, be it artistic or entrepreneurial or both together. Fantasize big. Think big, no matter how small you may feel. Your big fantasies are what you should be having — not miniscule thoughts or mere daydreams. Once you’ve got one, start building the foundations of anchoring reality under them. Cut to the chase and start doing what you need to do to drag your fantasy existence for all to see.
You’ve got to begin with rough ideas, rough drafts or first drafts. Even if you have a sudden flash of insight into an idea and think you see it all at once, you then need to figure out how to bring it into hard reality. And that’s probably going to somewhat alter what you initially envisioned. Creativity isn’t a neat, clean, all-at-once process or event. You’re going to jumble your work desk and you’re going to get your hands dirty before you have before you what you want to share with the world.
Scope creep this way comes.
Scope creep is a term for all of those additional bright ideas that you get once you begin a creative endeavor. Those additional ideas become the problem of scope creep when they start distracting you from focusing on the initial idea that you began work on in the first place. You need to keep yourself focused on that project before you let yourself move on to work on another one. So, keep notepads, sketch pads, and voice recorders close at hand. Make note of the new ideas as they come in (keep it as short as you possibly can, too), but then quickly move back to finishing your initial project.
Ritualize your approach.
The root meaning of “ritual” is “a something done”. Daily ritualized approaches to completing an endeavor prevent us from getting all caught up in what’s novel or some imagined need for “variety”. They prevent us from getting lost in thinking about the tools instead of thinking about the end product. They also keep us going day after day until we have completed the creative work. They give us a sense that we’re getting something done even when we feel like we didn’t have the most creative or productive day.
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