One of my favorite mentors once told me about the importance of making space in your calendar for thought and creative thinking. He was talking about the need to make time for whatever might come, to resist the urge to fill your to to do list to the brim just for the sake of keeping yourself busy. His thinking was — and I agree — that we need unplanned space in order to think clearly and creatively. That’s not to say that you should just loaf around expecting brilliance to strike. Instead, think of it as creating opportunities to delve deeper into thought processes and back-burner projects that spark new ideas.
While many of us understand that concept instinctively, we also often fall prey to the busyness trap. No one — especially at work — wants to look like they are lazy or worst of all, encourage others to give them more tasks because they appear idle. That is, I think, a large part of the challenge. How can we in our work and social cultures become more comfortable with the idea of free time being a boon rather than a burden?
I don’t yet have a perfect answer. But I think I’m slowly finding ways, at least in my personal life, to make space for creativity. I tell people I have plans and can’t make it – even if, or especially if, those plans are just a promise to myself to finish a book that’s been languishing on my nightstand. Or, I schedule time each night between sleep and winding down for silence and no activity. For just washing the dishes while I think, for just putzing around the house for a few minutes, no music, no TV. At least for me, these little changes help relieve my brain of the constant barrage of stimulus available in our era. It frees me up from the tiredness that can come from constantly doing something or from constantly receiving information.
I’m excited to maintain this type of unscheduled time in my calendar each week and to enjoy the bursts of freedom and inspiration that come from it.
I’m curious, what are favorite ways to spark creativity?