“Simplicity boils down to two steps: Identify the essential. Eliminate the rest.” - Leo Babauta
THE PROBLEM WITH PRODUCTIVITY
One of the most difficult aspects of creativity to cope with is that creativity and productivity doesn't always work the way you want it to.
Why is this?
Because creativity isn't always a linear process.
It comes and goes, it has peaks and troughs, success and failures.
So, how do you build a routine and optimise your life to maximise your creative output?
Many people fail at habits because they don't create the habits and environments that distract them enough.
If the time you've scheduled and the work you do isn't enough to distract you from actually procrastinating then you need to work on creating better habits.
START SMALL. WORK EVERYDAY
I know of many people who have been guilty of not working at something every day and as a result their project becomes a long and difficult task (sometimes taking years!).
They think that they can wait until inspiration strikes or that the muse will provide them ideas in her own time.
As Steve Pressfield write in his book 'The War of Art', “The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.”
Because they don't work at it everyday, procrastination, rather than work, has become the norm. It has become the habit. It has become comfortable to be unproductive.
Their work isn't distracting enough.
This is not about finishing a task - that can wait.
This is about working at something consistently.
Creativity and productivity has to become more appealing than distraction. Habit-building often fails because habit-forming itself is an accomplishment.
GIVE YOURSELF A DIGITAL MAKEOVER
Notifications from email, Facebook, Twitter, etc., I think most people would agree, are probably one of our greatest distractions.
Unless your work involves customer communication, they can demand and claim much needed attention, time and concentration.
Switching between tasks and notifications takes time and energy.
Research has shown that it takes around 25 minutes to get back to focusing on a task after being distracted.
Which app do you spend most time on on your smartphone? I'll almost guarantee it's Facebook.
But, if you own both a desktop computer and smartphone, do you really need the Facebook app on your phone?
And vice versa; do you really need log into Facebook and email so often on your desktop if you have a smartphone?
Try making your smartphone "less smart". Delete your social media apps, if only for a few hours.
Remove Facebook from your bookmarks bar on your desktop.
Turn off email notifications
Turn on Silent (or Airplane) mode, unless it's essential for your work.
Log out of apps, rather than just close them.
“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”
- Vince Lombardi
DON'T LOSE THE SPARK!
I’ve met many people in my life who, while working very hard to produce something, never actually do.
They work at their art, book, business, etc., everyday, but never actually get around to saying to the world: ‘Here is my product.”
Because they get so wrapped in the details of their work, trying to make it as perfect as possible, and getting so bogged down by the details, that they lose that feeling they had right at the beginning, when they were passionate about making something, when they had that initial spark and flash of inspiration.
They lose sight of the original vision and have prevented themselves from finishing their work.
DON'T BE SCARED OF NOT BEING PERFECT
If you find yourself struggling to finish, ask yourself if there is anything more that that particular work needs.
It’s scary, I know.
Making something from nothing, scared of putting it out into the world, scared that people won't think it's any good, scared of rejection.
So we keep going, trying to make it as perfect as possible until we lose all interest in it, get bored with it.
Perfection though, is mostly abut completion.
Being the best at something shouldn’t be your goal. Your goal should be to get better.
Take Apple, for example.
When the first iPhone was released, Apple found found ways to improve it, so they followed it up with another model.
The composer Pierre Boulez often rewrote and reworked his works, often transforming them into something entirely different. Although Boulez may have had an obsessional concern for perfection, this came after he had already produced the work.
He wrote, published and performed the works, then later decided that they needed further work.
PERFECTION IS AN ENEMY
Salvador Dali said, “Have no fear of perfection - you’ll never reach it.”
Much of our daily tasks and activities consist of decisions about completion and perfection, from gardening to cooking your food.
We may not always have the time or energy available to complete every daily task to perfection, but they do get done.
Maybe you've decided to clean or decorate the house and it doesn't turn out quite how you like - you simply go back to it another day.
The same with art, it doesn't have to be right the first time.
Sandro Botticelli was one of the greatest Renaissance painters. His earlier works however, show up a lot of flaws that were later ironed out later in life.
Check out his painting The Birth of Venus, below. Possibly his most famous painting and certainly one of the worlds most famous.
Amazing, isn't it?
Check out the feet...
Yes, Botticelli was terrible at drawing feet!
Forget about perfectionism and embrace being as great as you can be be.
Perfection will only hold you back, it’s an enemy.
Focusing on perfection means you could keep putting off your business launch or product release.
You wont get that verse written or you’ll throw what could have been a great painting in the bin.
Make art, but accept that it is not always under you control.