Want To Be More Creative? Do the Same Thing Every Day

Steve Jobs may be most famous for his creative endeavours in founding and growing Apple, but he’s become slightly iconic in the fashion world, too – for wearing the same thing every day.

Each morning, Steve Jobs donned a black mock turtleneck, blue jeans, and new balance sneakers. He didn’t change colors based on the seasons or branch out into business suits and trendy ties. His wardrobe was what many people would consider the essence of not creative.

But Jobs knew the importance of saying no:

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”

The average adult makes 35,000 decisions per day, but our ability to be creative actually diminishes the more decisions we have to make. (That’s why so many people do their best work early in the morning, before they’ve waded through a full day of decisions.)

By wearing the same thing every day, Jobs completely eliminated an entire set of decisions from his life. He said no to choosing what to wear every morning, and all the consequences that follow from it: where to shop, when to shop, price and brand comparison, various laundry choices – all the things that are tied to having a varied closet.

He refused to spend his creative energy on his wardrobe, so that he could spend it on what mattered to him. Jobs put getting dressed on “automate” so he never had to think about it.

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Creativity and Productivity: Can We Have Both?

Have you ever thought about the difference between creativity and productivity? Or struggled with how to be both? It seems to be a theme that is popping up a lot – perhaps because January is simultaneously a season for nature being at rest, in preparation for the creative burst of spring, while the modern world is trying to be as productive as possible, implementing new habits, losing weight, and finally doing the things they had been procrastinating through Christmas.

On the one hand, pursuing creative work is a worthy goal. On the other hand, it’s hard to look at a day that looks like January — where not much happens with that lengthy to-do list — and say, well, at least I was creative, even though I have nothing to show for it.

Where is the balance? Every great writer seems to offer the same advice about creative work: it’s still work. You can’t just wait for a muse to strike you, you have to sit down at the keyboard every day. But is creativity the same as productivity?

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Want to Feel (and Be) More Productive? Maybe You Need to Change How You Measure Success

How do you measure a job well done? How do you judge, at the end of a day, if you’ve been “productive” at your work?

(Of course, being productive isn’t always the end goal. Sometimes just being is what’s important. But sometimes, we do have to work, and when we do, it can be helpful to think about how we measure our success.)

This came to my mind recently because I’m about to take up a long-neglected project that, to be honest, isn’t at the top of my priorities list. It isn’t something I’m enthusiastic about. But, frankly, it’s something that needs to be finished.

This is one of those situations where I do want the goal, but I don’t want the process. But in the grand scheme of things, I am almost done, and my husband reminds me that an undone project can lead to being unsettled – and I definitely don’t want to keep being unsettled.

So, as I sat on my sofa, wondering how I could motivate myself not just to finish the project (I’m definitely motivated for it to just be done already), but to do the project so that it will be done, it occurred to me that I need concrete measures for success along the way. Continue Reading

7 Ways Hand-Writing Can Improve Creativity

We’ve all had mental blocks. Whether it’s writer’s block, a total lack of ideas for projects, or just feeling “stuck” about what to do next, everyone experiences creative dry spells. In those moments, I’ve noticed that a pen and paper, rather than a blank screen and blinking cursor, are an immense help. Here are seven reasons why. Continue Reading

Coming Up Blank

Photo Courtesy of Unsplash

Last week I had a creative project to work on. I needed to come up with an idea, but I found myself completely and utterly blank. Usually I can think of something, however bad, to start with, and then edit and analyse and improve… but this day I was empty. I couldn’t even think of one single terrible idea, let alone a good one.

Still, I was trying to be disciplined and so I took Ann Pachett’s advice and applied it to my situation. I went to a coffee shop with a notebook and a pen and I just sat there, staring at a blank page. Continue Reading