Productivity and creativity do not dance together

On achieving efficacy by balancing the two states of mind
April 24, 2021

Dear Child,

Ever since I established this project, I tried to find the right balance between productivity and creativity. I decided I would publish a new post every Wednesday and Saturday. Still, I allowed some room for creativity to come up with the contents. 

It didn’t work for me. 

Yesterday, I found myself struggling to come up with a new post. I was digging into my journal, my old writings, and nothing was giving me that sparkle. Luckily, I had a coaching session scheduled with my dear friend Mafalda. The goal of yesterday’s session was to come up with a better system. After some rounds of questions, she asked me what productivity and creativity meant for me. I love those tough questions that provoke thoughts. Remember the post about finding the support you need? Linked here.

I will phrase the answers as a feeling that I get from being either productive or creative. 

I feel productive when I achieve something I envisioned within the allocated time and space. 

I feel creative when I enter the deep flow of imagination, which bends my reality of time and space.  

They are both subjective states of the mind. 

As I was thinking out loud, I realized the issue. Productivity runs by the clock, and creativity flows with the current. The two do not dance together. Only when you address the two in proper balance, efficacy – the power to produce the desired outcome, is achieved. 

Here again, I took note of the importance of finding the balance; yin and yang – productivity and creativity. Check my other post on this subject here. 

To tackle the issue, I revised my weekly schedule. I decided to separate the days when I use my brain to achieve productivity and vice versa. A Google search after the coaching session also proved that neurologically, productivity and creativity used different hormones to stimulate the brain. Reading on, I found that a certain amount of stress can enhance productivity but kill creativity. Aha! That was why I felt stressed yesterday, as I was trying to force my brain to generate creativity while staying alert to the time and space constraints. 

My take away for maintaining the balance between productivity and creativity are :

• Separate productivity days from creativity days

I can also do it in hours, but I decided to let my brain shift in either mode. My productivity day is when I plan what to write about and what actions I am going to take for the week ahead. From now on, I will dedicate my Mondays to such productive days. Also, when I have the container of a planned week, I can let myself flow in it, which secures plenty of space for creativity.

• Alternate environment to create hot triggers for the mind

I am writing this post sitting by the pool, and it’s flowing! Ideas are. Not the pool. I usually sit at my desk at home or the coffee shop downstairs. I find that alternating the environment creates the “hot triggers” for your mind to get into that desired mode. I will spend productive Mondays in a quiet environment at my home desk while exploring other spaces for my creative days.

• Dedicate a day for learning and maintenance

Creativity requires practice. It also requires a constant source of inspiration and maintenance. I have so much to learn, on the topic I am writing, web design, blogging, building a community, social media management. The list is endless. Knowledge takes time. It is hard to be either productive or creative with learning. It takes as much time as it needs. So, my suggestion is to dedicate a particular day to that.

• Create space to rest

Do you relate to the aha moments? I believe the best state of mind for creativity is when your brain is relaxed and has nothing to do, like in the shower or during weekends. Do not over-plan and leave the weekends free for some additional flow of ideas.

• Remind yourself 

Set reminders to remind yourself why you started. Why are you writing? Are your writings authentic? Do you honor the creativity within you? Bottom-line, we all need reminders – don’t rely on your genius self because life happens, and there are things you cannot control. The least you can do is to set your future self for success. Reminders keep me not only accountable but motivated.

Whatever you do in life, I believe you can find some parallel situations where the above reflections would come at hand. 

What is your relationship to productivity and creativity? 

wholeheartedly,

lana

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