How to Be More Creative When You’re Pressed for Time

“I’m inspired to make my project better, but that’ll take so much time! How can I change and get it there?”

I get this email a lot after people listen to Unthinkable. The show is intended to inspire you to use the craft of creativity to build something meaningful. Many who listen are already building something, but a gap exists between what they’re inspired to create and what they’re actually creating.

In the quote above, the key word is “there.”

“How can I change and get it there?”

“There” implies a final destination. When we want to improve, for some reason, we think about static states. We agonize over moving from today’s static state (poor or fine) to a future, equally static state (amazing and on par with those we admire).

When those two states seem far apart, we point to time constraints as our excuse:

“I have three kids AND a house.”

“I’d have to go back to school to pick up the skills.”

“I wasn’t a first-mover on Twitter. I need to work harder to build that kind of audience today.”

“I’m inspired to make my project better, but that’ll take so much time!”

To that I say, You’re right! Change takes a ton of time. But not in the way you’re thinking.

Again, to think about “change” is to think about those static states — today versus tomorrow or yesterday versus today. But this is something you manufacture in your head. You’re comparing two points in time that you can only crystallize by pausing from your work, picking up your head, and telling yourself a story about two moments. But what if we didn’t stop to compare and instead just kept going?

Think: When you’re busy telling yourself the story of two different moments in your life, what are you no longer doing? Doing. You’ve stopped improving, stopped making. You’re staring at some big future project that you see as amazing, at some future moment in time, and you think, “To get from here to there would take too much time.”

But there’s that pesky “there” again. It’s causing us to stop forward progress, and it’s void of meaning. After all, do you know that “there” is June 21 at 9:55 in the morning? Is your work suddenly amazing at that point? Have you reached “there” then?

This idea of achieving change is too fluffy, too unattainable.

But the goal is never to achieve change. The goal is to always be changing.

Unlike change, changing happens while you’re working, tinkering, shipping, and creating. If you commit mentally to improving and have pride in your work, treating it like a craft, then you’re well on your way to that unknown “there.” However, you’re not paralyzed by it, because that’s not the goal. Getting to the next second is the goal. Continuing to work with intention is the goal.

Unlike the false stakes in the ground that represent massive change, “changing” is just a bunch of little moments all strung together, which most people call DOING. It’s about the continual flow of time and using that time not to compare things but to make things.

Because even if you could point to June 21 at 9:55 in the morning as “there,” guess what happens as soon as you get there? 9:56.

So stop trying to get get your work “there.”

Stop staring at meaningful change like it’s impossible to reach. Because it’s not the thing you want to reach in the first place. You don’t need to switch from one static state to another; you need to create constant, fluid, forward action. To do anything else is to waste time — time you just told me you don’t have.

Don’t tell others you want to improve. Tell others you’re in the process of improving. The former feels unattainable; the latter requires merely showing up and working hard at your craft when you do.

Don’t aim for change. Aim to always be changing.

Everyone has time for that.

The post How to Be More Creative When You’re Pressed for Time appeared first on Unthinkable.

1 thought on “How to Be More Creative When You’re Pressed for Time

  1. I see you have a rather simplistic concept of change. et me refine change a bit for you. There are two events in life that are static, birth and death. That time in between is called life and life is a process. You see, all processes have a start and an end. Change is part of this concept called process. Change has a start and an endpoint. Goals, or endpoints are important and natural to any process, or subprocess or any change process. To pretend they don’t exist is to pretend in unicorns.

    An example I can offer that is specific to me and yet allows someone else a theme to pursue is writing fiction. I start with a title first. That is I look for a general theme I wish to pursue. Let’s take an easy one, “She’s Gone”, title from a Hall and Oates song. There’s our theme, a rather broad and general one. What is the approach I want to use? Another part of creativity kicks in and sometimes it may take a month. That is why I usually keep half a dozen titles on file, the creative process is not a craft that one bends to one’s will. If I want to write about a woman, friend or wife, who has left me and isn’t coming back, then I have a particular vehicle for crafting the story. Or maybe a woman who was loved has died, different story. The point being there are many variations on a theme, I just have to think of one and make it work. That variation gives me a ballpark. I now have a ticket to at least see the game and become a player on the field. The story will end in this ballpark. Ain’t no hitting it out of the park allowed. I’ve got nine innings and twenty seven outs to a side. Each at bat, each position is a breakpoint. No two baseball games are ever the same, just like in real life. Now these breakpoints can be small changes, a ball or a called strike. Or they can be big changes, a home run. But they can’t all be the same, each must be a change for it’s own purpose. This is how we live our lives and in the living, tell our stories. I merely aim to tell some subset of a story. I never know who will win the game, all I know is the the game will end and someone will win. But from the order, “Play Ball!”I know the story will take shape and change, sometimes from paragraph to paragraph with small changes to a few paragraphs with a big change. But the story always ends.

    So the point being that we do not need and shouldn’t make change a continuous habit. Change needs a purpose, a goal. It takes though to come up with the right approach to make the right change. Living is the main process, working on a project is one of many subprocesses. Keep that perspective and one’s view of the world changes.

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