Friday, 18 May 2012

Scheduling Creativity

One way to help enhance your creativity is to approach it with some organization. That can be done by scheduling your creative work. You make schedules for other important things in life, why not your creative endeavors as well?
When setting up a schedule, break things down into the smallest possible step and allow for days, weeks, months, (or even years) to acheive your goals. The balance that we are looking for in scheduling is leaving enough wiggle room but getting things done in a timely, consistent fashion. Writing these steps down makes them real -- you can look at them and then act on them.

Using either a large calander, a monthly calendar printed out from your computer (Publisher has some nice templates), or a white board, putting down your steps will keep you focused and on track. Writing your schedule for creative activities in pencil also allows for adjustments.
Being flexible is important. This is the tricky part—setting firm goals that are malleable. If we are too rigid there is the chance of anxiety coming into play which could lead to feeling overwhelmed, which could lead to procrastinating which leads to, well, nothing. Being too lax and not taking our schedule seriously though can lead to not keeping our commitment to ourselves and not getting the job done either.
 The reason for writing the schedule in pencil is because sometimes our creative projects take on a life of their own and the steps have to be adjusted. Sometimes real life gets in the way as well and things have to be adjusted. But keeping that focus, rhythm and direction set in front of us helps to get the steps done. A posted schedule is our creative map of getting to the treasure: a piece of creative work!

A word of caution: don't over schedule! Putting too many things on the daily or weekly to do list can be counter productive. Allowing plenty of wiggle room is important. A trick I learned from my brother (who is a construction manager) was to figure how long it would take if all goes well and then double the time. If you're done early, enjoy; if it takes the estimated time, you were realistic. Either way, you win. If it takes longer, take note of what caused the overtime and remember to add that into your next time-plan.
It’s ok to not be working at your creative endeavor 24/7. Thinking that if you’re not working on your creative project, then you are wasting time will not be helpful. In order for you to have the creative energy you need for your project, you need to keep life balanced, so doing your scheduled task and then enjoying (or even not enjoying things like housework, day job, homework for school) will keep you in that balance.

So, firm but malleable schedules help us to organize our thinking and organize our doing.

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