By August 18, 2010 Read More →

Day 18 – Add Creative Hours to Your Week

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“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”
Scott Adams

Your Outcome:  Add more Creative Hours to your week.  Let your ideas and imagination come out to play, while you uncork your creative genius and flex your creative mind.

Welcome to day 18 of 30 Days of Getting Results based on my book, Getting Results the Agile Way.   In day 17, we learned how to add Power Hours to your week.  Today, we learn how to add creative hours to our week.  With our creative hours, we can innovate or think of new ideas or work on our creative art.

Just like adding Power Hours, you might benefit from adding more Creative Hours to your week. Count how many Creative Hours you have during the week. If it’s not enough, schedule more and set yourself up so that they truly are Creative Hours. If you’re the creative type, this will be especially important. If you don’t think of yourself as very creative, then simply think of these as free hours to let your mind wander and explore or reflect.

Creative Hours are Your Free-Form Thinking
It’s those times when your mind feels free to explore ideas: creating new ideas from scratch, putting new ideas together, or simply reflecting.   Your Creative Hours are really a state of mind—a state of daydreaming. It’s the mindset that’s important. Whereas your Power Hours may be focused on results, your Creative Hours are focused on free-form thinking and exploration. You might find that Creative Hours are your perfect balance to Power Hours. You might also find that you thrive best when you add more Creative Hours to your week. Ultimately, you might find that your Power Hours free up time for your Creative Hours, or that your Creative Hours change the game and improve your Power Hours. Your power hours might also be how you leverage your ideas from your Creative Hours. Test your results.

3 Common Patterns for Your Mind at Work
For simplicity’s sake, let’s start by calling out three common patterns or modes of thinking:

  1. Creative inspiration.  Your creative juices are flowing.  This is where your imagination runs wild and your ideas are free-flowing and you are full of creative inspiration.  You’re able to think out of the box and ideas seem to come to you.
  2. Thoughtful Task.  Your brain is engaged and this is where you have to think your way through your activity.  You are actively thinking and processing information and using your memory.
  3. Routine Activity.  Your brain does not have to be engaged.  It’s a  familiar or repetitive task that you can do without thinking.  You just know what to do and you can just do it, without much mental intervention.

You can use these patterns as a lens to help you better identify when you are in your most creative state.  Keep in mind that the nature of your work will influence your pattern.

3 Steps to Adding More Creative Hours to Your Week
Here are three ways to add more Creative Hours to your week:

  • Step 1. Protect the Creative Hours you already have. First identify the when you’re at your creative best throughout the week.   You might find that your best hours for creativity follow certain routines or occur at repeatable times.  For example, maybe your ride home from work puts you in a creative state.
  • Step 2. Create Space.   You might need to add space in your schedule to give yourself room for imagination and creativity.  For example, if you’re always rushing to make a deadline or always worried about what you have to do next, you might not be making enough space or downtime to experience your best creativity.  You might need to create space in terms of time or create space in terms of location.  See Day 7 – Setup Boundaries and Buffers.
  • Step 3.  Change up your routines.  You might need to change your routines to find patterns that help you get into your creative mode more easily.  For example, maybe by simply moving around some of your routines, you find that you suddenly experience more creative energy and your ideas flow on a more regular basis.

The key in all this is simply being more mindful of when you are at your creative best, and finding ways to experience more of your creative mindset by design instead of just lucking into it.  Experiment and test to find what works for you.

Experiment Between Morning Person and Night Owl
Some people find that they are more creative at night but are more productive during the day. Other people find they simply can’t be creative in certain situations or that they can’t be productive in others. Experiment between being a night owl and a morning person to see which patterns work best for you. You might even find that these patterns switch, depending on the season. For example, you might prefer to be a night owl in the winter and a morning person in the summer.

Today’s Assignment

  1. Identify your Creative Hours.
  2. Create more space for your Creative Hours.

My Related Posts

Photo by juliejordanscott.

8 Comments on "Day 18 – Add Creative Hours to Your Week"

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  1. rob white says:

    Hi J.D.
    Carving out those creative hours and making them sacred is the best way to realize our creativity. It may take discipline at first, but the act of creativity will become essential to our being. I know I need to write and philosophize everyday… it wasn’t always this way… It takes knowing thyself and taking command of the mind.

  2. I love the idea of adding creativity hours to my work week. I am a very creative person and if I’m not writing or crafting something then I feel anxious. I’ve been trying to use my power hours to be more creative. It’s when I’m must productive and playful.

  3. JD says:

    @ Rob — It really does take knowing yourself and your cycles and optimizing what works for you. It’s true that you get what you measure, and I’ve found that simply by counting the number of creative hours in my week, I find ways to have more of them.

    @ Karl — I find that the best way to get my creative hours is to really set the stage for them. If I don’t create enough space or time, I rob my creative mindset. I depend on my creative hours for innovating at work and in life.

  4. alik levin says:

    “Create space” is indeed what i need to focus more now.

  5. Hilary says:

    Hi JD .. I am quite creative as I’m often drafting things in my mind – which are way better than what gets written about later (well I think so!). So once I’m settled in the next couple of weeks .. the tape recorder, or iphone recorder will be got out and working & then I can carry it round with me .. and speak to remember the thoughts.

    Once I’m sorted and organised – perhaps the free form will flow too ..

    So as you rightly say creative hours are so important and talking and listening to people to get ideas ..

    Then I can map and plan this future journey more easily .. and walk my way up the hill and down again! with my thoughts in tow and something to record them into – I might become the “iphone notetaker of Eastbourne” – rather than a bag lady!

    Have a good weekend .. Hilary

  6. JD says:

    @ Alik — Your solution architect skills will definitely come in handy ;)

  7. yumi says:

    I had an Aha-moment from contemplating on “your Power Hours free up time for your Creative Hours” and “your Creative Hours change the game and improve your Power Hours.”

    Instead of rushing through some of my start-up routine for the day, I am going to move them to the mid day to see if I can make some “creative hours” in the afternoon, in between my power hours. I think this is doable… I just made a note for start-up routines and set a reminder on my iPhone.

    I just finished the week 4 of T-25. My body fat went down 1.2%, which is a huge difference to me. My energy level is up. The weekly sessions with my chiropractor guy and sports therapist lady helps to improve my mood. With their suggestion, I decided to get an extra large stability ball to use it as a chair in my work space… Good changes are happening.

    In fact, bouncing on the stability ball while I am working seems to help me get things done faster. Strange? Who knew changing a chair can make us more productive…

    Three quotes for the day:
    “If necessity is the mother of invention, discontent is the father of progress” David Rockefeller
    “Progress is the activity of today and the assurance of tomorrow” Ralph Waldo Emerson
    “Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people.” George Bernard Shaw
    My word of the day, obviously, is “PROGRESS.”

    • JD says:

      We need more unreasonable people.

      Congrats on building your temple.

      I tried a stability ball a while back. I tried. And, I tried. Unfortunately, it distracted me too much. That said, it might be good for me to try it again. It’s a new ball game.

      Whenever I find myself rushing through things, I remind myself of a few things:
      1. Slow down to speed up
      2. I ask myself, “What am I rushing through for?” If it’s monotony or burden, I try to deal with it.
      3. Less is more. If I’m rushing through because I have too much, then I try to cut stuff as best I can, and eliminate waste.

      Your creative hours will help you find and reveal opportunities to innovate in your personal processes. That’s why they are such a game changer. I use my creative hours either to come up with new ideas, work on something that takes a creative mindset, or to innovate in my processes to get better, faster, easier.