Creative energy is what you use when you are working on things that require you to use your brain to solve various tasks and problems. If you deplete your creative energy you burn out. Here are some of the things I try to have in mind to keep my creative energy up.
Creativity cannot be force, contradictory to what a lot of managers like to believe. Working 16 hours instead of 8 does not produce twice the results and, more likely than not, will do the opposite. It could mean that the last 8 hours will not only be a waste but also the hours you plan on putting in the day after. Exhaustion will also hinder your creative though and can cause you to be sluggish, grumpy, lazy, unfocused, stressed and unproductive.
Rest can be anything, as long as it's not what you do all day at work. Take a break, get away from the keyboard and rest until you are ready to get back to it. Know your limits.
For me this is often the time when I have a great idea relating to some problem I am trying to solve. Even though I try not to think too much about work when I am resting.
But when I am exhausted that never happens. If I push myself too much and deplete my creative energy then I am pretty much done for. I won't have a sudden idea pop into my head and the quality of work I produce is lacking. I make mistakes and I am unfocused.
So put yourself first and go get some rest!
Focus is extremely important in the creative industry and if any manager wants their team to be productive, they should do whatever they can to enable focus for themselves and their team.
Focus on the goal
- Before starting a new project give time to think it over and plan it properly. Don't rush yourself, take the time you need to be confident that you are on the right path.
- Do your best to kill bad ideas.
- Don't get sidetracked by unimportant details.
- Don't be afraid to throw away features that have been developed, if you see that they distract you from the real goal.
- Don't attach your ego to your work.
Focus on your task
Avoid interruptions. Interruptions really hinder productivity. It takes a lot of time to get back that focus you lose when you are interrupted. Be it by a person, a device or anything else. Losing focus eats away at your creative energy.
Stop multitasking. People have come to believe that if you are not doing 10 things at once then you can't possibly be productive. It's true that many things happen but it is very unlikely they are of much quality and most definitely don't happen in less time. this podcast has a really good experiment to demonstrate how multitasking takes longer, I suggest you give it a listen.
Instead of multitasking try single tasking. By single tasking your way through one thing at a time you are able to focus and be extremely effective. Your results will be of better quality because you're able to see everything more clearly and notice problems earlier.
Noise is a lot more damaging than most people think. To be truly able to focus you need to be able to control your environment in a way that reduces any background noise and conversations happening around you.
Put away your tools, find yourself a quiet place and give yourself time to simply think. This can often look to others and even yourself like you are not being productive, because you are not sitting by your computer and hammering away at your keyboard. But believe me it is one of the most productive things you can do. Her are a few things you can think about:
- All the assumptions you made and if there might be a better way.
- If you are using your time in an effective way.
- If you can somehow improve the flow of information between you and your team so that everybody will be on the same page.
- And countless other things that help you to be more effective.
Learn from your mistakes. After a project make time to think what could have gone better.
- Did you waste too much time pondering minor details.
- Were things not planned or designed well enough before starting
- Were you lacking essential tools needed for the project?
It can be hard to produce great results when you are under a lot of stress. Often stress is caused by unnecessary factors relating to the things I have mentioned in this post, like bad morale, lack of focus, exhaustion and also unsustainable pace. To reduce stress:
- Put yourself and your family first. Family emergency trumps company emergency.
- Keep up good morale.
- Plan ahead.
- Be realistic about deadlines, don't promise what you can't deliver. Personally I double my assumptions to make room for error.
Without good morale you and your team are likely to end up frustrating each other and depleting each others creative energy. Working with people you like and get along with is probably one of the biggest boosts in productivity you can find. I don't think this can be said enough. Here are some tips to help it improve:
- Give constructive criticism and be ready to accept it.
- Put yourself in others shoes.
- Show appreciation
- Listen well before speaking out.
- Don't be passive aggressive.
The key to good morale is good communication.
These are the tips I can think of right now to keep up your creative energy and overall productivity. I decided to write them all down so that I can look them over once in a while and see if I am doing everything I can to keep my creative energy up. I will be editing this post later on when I remember and learn more.