The Practice of Creativity

7 Habits that Hamper Creativity

Posted on: November 23, 2015

This week a colleague of mine sent me an article about productivity, “7 Super Common Habits That Productive People Ditch (Because Who Has Time for That?)

This is a great article as it highlights behavior that can derail us at work. The author presents compelling research and evidence that the habits listed below make us less effective. However, I also looked at this list and thought that many of these habits can hamper creative work, too. I used the categories as a jumping off point for thinking about how these habits affect our creative aspirations and how we can change them.

 

1. Checking Email Constantly

Guilty! When I’m not fully committed to writing or I don’t know what to write next, email becomes a constant temptation. It’s so immediately rewarding.

Solution: Take 5-7 minutes at the beginning of your writing session to outline your goal for that time. And make the goal manageable and specific. So, instead of, “I’ll work on Chapter 3,” try instead, “I’ll add sensory details to the second scene in Chapter 3.”

2. Waiting for Things to Be Perfect

Perfectionism is a type of inner critic. Often perfectionism is about delaying anticipated possible rejection or disapproval of one’s work.

Solution: Let others know that you intend to submit your manuscript (or whatever you want to get accomplished), by a certain date. Post it on Facebook or social media where people will hold you accountable. Savor the experience of letting something go. Remind yourself that if something of yours is rejected, that’s OK. You’ll survive.

3. Multitasking

I find that I multitask when I have anxiety about doing the next aspect of a task, especially if I don’t have a clear sense of what I need to do. Or, if I think that the task is going to be very difficult. It’s easier to do several things to avoid the challenge of deeply focusing on one thing. Multitasking is often a creativity killer. Creativity needs our focus and presence.

Solution: Ask yourself, are you multitasking because you haven’t efficiently budgeted the appropriate time for your creative work? Are you multitasking because you are stuck? If you need help with something, reach out to your creative community.

4. Inviting Interruptions

Don’t you hate when you are in the flow of your creative work and someone interrupts you? It’s imperative that you set up the optimal conditions so that you won’t be interrupted.

Solution: For some people that means putting a sign on their door letting others know that they are unavailable for a certain period of time.

5. Being Disorganized

Being disorganized according to many organizational experts is when you can’t get your hands on needed information within 2 minutes. I like to give myself a bit of a broader time period. I should be able to find something within a half hour or less. Can you find things in your studio? Do you have a record of where you are submitting your stories? Do you capture your great ideas in places where you can easily find them later?

Solution: Schedule quarterly cleaning and organizing sessions. Need more tips of how to get started getting your creative space organized and not get overwhelmed? See my spring cleaning for the creative life posts.

6. Failing to Delegate

This is a hard one as most creative professionals are juggling multiple jobs, a family and other commitments.

Solution: More support is always a good thing.  Are there things on your to-do list that you can trade with someone else, even for a short period of time? I’ve known writers who detested writing query letters and so traded this task with another writer. They then completed a task that their writer friend found difficult.

7. Never Saying No

Creative work takes time of all sorts, including incubating, developing and implementing. If you habitually say yes to things that don’t support your creative life, you’ll find yourself frustrated and resentful.

Solution: Practice saying no ten different ways. Eliminate what’s not essential and things that drain your energy.

 

Do you have any of these habits? If so, how are you working on them?

See the full article here.

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2 Responses to "7 Habits that Hamper Creativity"

Lol I just read an article on how to say ‘No’ this afternoon. I have difficulty in that, and sometimes get distracted multi-tasking, too.

Hi Claudine! Thanks for your comment. I think learning how to say no with grace and persistence is a lifelong practice!

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Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

Author, Academic, Creativity Expert I'm an award winning writer.

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