“The only way to do great work, in any field, is to find time to consider the larger questions” – David Leonhardt
A few weeks back, I read this New York Times article which talks about the former secretary of state George Shultz and how he got great work done.
The author of the article, David Leonhardt explains that although George Shultz was a busy man, he decided to carve out one hour every week to think about the “larger questions of national interest”.
Shultz had come to realize that without purposely making time to think and strategize he’d be running around from one activity to the other without making meaningful and important progress on the things that mattered.
In my ebook 17 strategies for making time to create, strategy #10 talks about dividing your projects into creative buckets. Knowing how important creative thinking is, I used it as an example of a creative bucket in the book.
Yet, we seldom consider “thinking” as an activity. But it is! In our over-scheduled, over-committed societies, it has become more important than ever before to make time for creative thinking.
We are always on the go, go, go. We’re either engaged in this activity or that activity. Today, a busy person is more admired than a relaxed person.
Busyness is Not a Sign of Good Things
Busyness is our badge of honor that we wave around to our co-workers, friends, and family, showing them how productive (aka important) we are.
There are some people who even have paid time-off left over at the end of the year. Why? They’re too busy doing “important things” to take a break.
When you’re too busy to rest, it’s time to seriously reconsider what you do.
Tim Ferris – the author of the “4-hour Work Week”- in an interview with CNBC equated busyness to laziness. “Indiscriminate activity is a form of laziness,” he said. Why would Ferris make such a bold statement?
Ferris believes if you’re too busy to find time for the things that matter it means you’re too lazy to make time to figure out what your priorities are.
Creative Thinking Occurs in the Absence of Busyness
For a creative individual, creative thinking should be a priority. “Doing” is not enough. Every great creative work starts with a creative thought. These creative thoughts can’t find their way through to us when we cloak ourselves with an aura of busyness.
Yet, when we’re relaxed and day-dreaming, or in the shower or when we stare out of the window thoughtlessly, then the creative thoughts know it’s safe to come visit us. Initially, they’ll come almost timidly – as if to test the waters.
If you allow yourself to continue in a state of “thought-less-ness”, you’ll find they’ll hang out with you for much longer. And maybe, just maybe- you might get a light bulb moment and solve a problem you’ve been stuck on for a while.
The battle for our minds is on – Creative Thinking v Busyness
Creative thoughts need fertile grounds to grow. When you’re busy, your mind is not fertile for creative thinking. A relaxed and calm state is more conducive to creative thinking.
What can we do to make room for creative thinking? The battle for our minds is on. Who wins? Creative thinking or busyness?
Leonhardt makes these suggestions in his article.
5 Ways to Make Time for Creative Thinking
- Like the former secretary of state, create a “Shultz Hour” – time you set aside for creative thinking.
- Wake up to an alarm clock rather than a phone
- Put your phone away when driving, to allow your mind to wander at red lights
- Around the house, hide your phone in the drawer or in another room. (In Shave Time-off to Create, I ask you not to bring your phone into your creative space)
- Create “Cellphone-Free” time periods in your day or week. Check your phone only at specific times of the day.
Here’s to more creative thoughts and awesome creative works.
What is it in your life that you wish you had more time for? See you in the comments section.