You Can Be Productive And Creative — Just Not At The Same Time

office desk

Creativity and productivity are often seen as two polar opposites, but in reality, you can’t have one without the other. They are deeply intertwined. If there is an imbalance in one, you will find shortcomings in the other.

Although, it’s no wonder they are often at odds with each other. They require two different ways of thinking: divergent and convergent. With divergent thinking (creative), you use your imagination and think of new ideas and solutions to problems. With convergent thinking (analytical), you make quick decisions, you analyze one solution and you’re efficient. So how do you get the two to work together in harmony?

Systems, Systems, Systems

Ahhh, magic to the convergent thinker’s ears. Yes, systems are a huge help to your creativity. What they do is streamline and organize all your busy tasks that often take up a huge chunk of your day. Without them, you may find you’re bopping around from task to task, drowning in emails, confused about who is doing what, etc. By having solid systems for yourself and your business, you hopefully will be able to see what is on the docket for you each day and can do achieve those goals quickly. You can also delegate easier with systems and put things on automation. That way, you’re being productive without spending the whole day overloaded with busy tasks.

Schedule Creativity

Schedule your creativity as if it’s one of your daily tasks. Depending on your work, it may be time each day or maybe once a week. Treating creativity as a productive task that is equally important as the ones that have deadlines will help you prioritize it. It’s easy to get weighed down with other tasks and push back one that seems fun and open-ended, but in order to thrive creativity, you will have to change that mindset. It’s also important to show people around you that you value your creative time and therefore will value theirs. What I like to do is start the day with physical activity (a walk or a workout), then work on something creative for an hour and then dive into my daily tasks. I also like to schedule at least one day a month for a creative field trip, where I go explore.

Creativity and productivity are often seen as two polar opposites, but in reality, you can’t have one without the other. They are deeply intertwined. If there is an imbalance in one you will find shortcomings in the other.

Change Things Up

If you’re balancing both analytical and creative tasks each day, it’s important that you give your brain a chance to switch gears. Maybe you take a walk outside. Fresh air helps activate your creative thinking and gives you a new perspective. Physical activity is also great for stimulating creativity. Maybe you have a bliss station (I spoke about this last month) that you can go to where you have inspiring books, music and art. Whatever it is, find a place to switch gears.

Avoid Distractions

Whether you’re being productive or creative, you need to be focused. Make sure you are turning off most of your alerts on your phone and computer, batch your emails, turn your phone on airplane mode, etc. Multitasking isn’t a skill, it’s one big messy distraction that won’t lead you to great creative discoveries or help you in get-it-done mode.

One of the biggest takeaways I’ve found is that you need to really separate the two ways of thinking in order for them to work together in harmony. Have a time of day for work, busy mode and a time of day for creative thinking and play mode. This will help you stay focused, reduce stress and give your creativity room to blossom.

You may also want to check out Hear Me Out: Paper Calendars (Not Virtual) Are The Way To Go, and Simple Things To Do BEFORE Work This Fall That Will Change Your Day!

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Author: Taylor Sterling

Taylor Sterling is the founder and creative director of Glitter Guide. When she's not working on all things GG, she can be found reading and sometimes art directing photoshoots for @LolaJayne. She enjoys spending time with her family and eating french fries (not necessarily at the same time, although that's definitely the best combination). Follow her at @TaylorSterling