Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine Tame the muse. How to organize, focus and move daily towards creating a masterpiece: awesome summary by ebookhike

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Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind 99U 2013

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine
Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine Tame the muse. How to organize, focus and move daily towards creating a masterpiece: awesome summary by ebookhike

Why do we think so many geniuses are weird and selfish? (Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine)

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine: It seems to us that the world is against us and does not allow us to realize our potential. Clients have strange requests, we are given inadequate deadlines. Instead of being directly involved in work that carries value, we are forced to run around and do our own promotion. And when the hands finally reach the most important projects, the level of energy and inspiration sadly fluctuates around zero, and we again postpone everything for later.

In fact, the problem, as always, is not in the outside world, but in us. Yes, the environment around is quite aggressive and demanding, but being a professional means being able to win time and resources from it for really important projects and find ways to fuel your internal generators of inspiration. Think of the geniuses you admire, and you will surely notice that they often appear strange and behave not very kindly towards others, as they experiment with their limitations and protect their right and space for creativity.

In this book, you’ll find advice from 20 successful people in the creative industry who share their hands-on experience—the result of a lot of trial and error—on organizing your daily routine, overcoming blocks in motivation and inspiration, and combating the main enemies of the creative process that we create ourselves. Their goal is to help you cope with the state of eternal employment and breakdown and finally begin to implement the ideas of projects that intrigue and interest you the most.

Reorganizing the way we work

Essentials for a Productive Day
Mark McGuinness, writer, coach

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine

We often justify the stagnation in progress towards our main goals with a million different obligations: you need to pay bills, clean the apartment, speak at a meeting. We really can’t get away from many of them, but the problem is that between the obligations that need to be fulfilled and the necessary to fulfill your cherished desires, there is a large gray area of​​invented obligations: to answer all incoming letters, to fulfill the petty request of a colleague who has dropped by or attends a meeting where your presence is desirable but not critical.

Such “duties” appear because we find it difficult to distinguish between our own needs and the demands of the outside world, it is difficult to even slightly disappoint others and keep them waiting. As a result, we spend all our energy on responding to external stimuli and get to work on really important projects for us exhausted, often once again postponing them for later. In essence, we sacrifice our dreams for the minor requests of others, wanting to be good for everyone.

How to deal with this destructive trend?

  • Use uptime hours. During the hours when your efficiency reaches its maximum, turn off all external incentives (mail, phone) and focus on your own important projects. Take note of what times of the day you are most productive and book those hours on your calendar to avoid meeting requests.
  • Write down every promise you make to yourself and others so that you can visually compare the importance of the tasks ahead of you.
  • Limit your to-do list. If you have more than 10 tasks scheduled for the day and each of them takes at least an hour, be prepared to find 10+ hours from your working day for them.
  • Set hard boundaries for your activities. Instead of wasting hours in vain trying to achieve the perfect result, adequately estimate the time you need in advance and be ready to finish the job when it runs out.
  • Come up with rituals that will become triggers for the state of focus and the creative process, and stick to them. This will help you quickly get to work. It can be certain music, a workplace, a cup of coffee or tea before starting, or all at once. Consistency is important so that the brain gets used to perceiving these triggers as a signal for certain actions.

There is no universal model that guarantees effective work for everyone, it is individual. You’ll have to experiment a bit with these tips to find yours. You’ll know you’ve set the perfect routine and found the right triggers when your day-to-day work turns from a burdensome routine into a creative process.

The Path to Consistency
Gretchen Rubin, best-selling author of
happiness and contentment

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine

People tend to underestimate the amount of work they can get done in a short period of time and overestimate how much they can get done over a long period of time.

It’s not every day that we manage to find a few hours for the most important projects for us, but in our schedule, there are often “windows” lasting 15–30 minutes that we spend on social networks, small routine tasks, and conversations. If at this time we returned to work on the most important projects, it would allow us to pay attention to them daily, increasing our constancy in achieving the goal. This approach eliminates the time required for inclusion in the project after the break, since the break time is minimal, and also due to constant immersion increases the likelihood of interesting insights and allows you to work more efficiently with information. In addition, daily short-term approaches help remove many psychological barriers to creativity.

Dedicating two or three minutes of time every day to work on a project that is important to you, you are much easier to relate to the quality of the work done than when you spent weeks looking for that very perfect day that would be completely devoted to what was conceived. At the same time, the quality of work increases from approach to approach.

The project is no longer associated with feelings of overwhelming pressure and shame that inevitably arise if you keep putting it off, and the feeling of achievement and progress when you finish part of the project motivates you to continue. As a result, the habit of sitting down to work every day, even if there are only 15 minutes, taking root, lays the foundation for productivity: the reluctance to interrupt a successful series of approaches motivates not to waste this time in vain.

Naturally, sometimes working in boot camp mode, when you have a free day to implement an idea and not a minute more, contributes to the achievement of incredible results, many people know this from student sessions. However, the creation of a genuine masterpiece, as a rule, takes much longer. Therefore, acquiring the habit of daily work is a necessary step on the path to mastery.

Uncreative Fears
Seth Godin, American entrepreneur and writer

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine

Every creative person has two big problems: how to find inspiration and what to do next with the work that you just finished, because, as a rule, everyone wants the world to see and appreciate it. And if everything is more or less clear with the first problem – find your strategies to practice regularly, and inspiration will find you by itself – then only a few can solve the second. The rest usually do not understand that you can not finish the work and only then run around trying to sell it. It is necessary to think about this while working, to realize in advance who will become your audience, what you want to convey to them, and why they need it.

The ability to present and sell your work is by no means innate, everyone who has this skill learned this specifically because they needed to earn a living because they wanted the world to see their work.

Paradoxically, many want to be noticed or even remain in history and at the same time are afraid to make themselves known.

One of the manifestations of this behavior is the work on short-term projects. It is much easier to do a few small jobs here and there than to invest time and find the money for a grand and interesting idea. Because then you will have to take the position of a person who knows what he is doing, is confident in his abilities, is ready to take responsibility for his actions, and listen to criticism in his address. And not only today but also tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. Of course, it is difficult to overcome the voice in your head that repeats that you are not good enough, especially if because of this fear you have not yet had really serious projects. However, no one will introduce you to the world for you and will not make your dreams come true. Either you overpower yourself, or your ideas remain just ideas.

This is a necessary recovery
Tony Schwartz, CEO of the Energy Project

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine

For a long time, people lived in a world where they had enough energy for everything: work, family, hobbies. Now the world is changing, and its demands on us are growing, while our reserves of strength and energy have remained the same. We cannot be focused for more than an hour and a half, and we still need seven to eight hours of sleep and time to reflect after receiving information.

Unfortunately, many do not realize or accept these limitations and try to artificially push their own limits of what is possible by replacing sleep with coffee and sugar and reacting reactively to every incoming message. As a result, such an approach either leads to complete burnout or turns a person’s life into a destructive cycle, consisting of periods of painful forced concentration, followed by periods of weak-willed and meaningless pastime in bars and in front of a screen with a game or series.

Instead of denying the limitations of the human body, it is much better to learn how to work with them. It is important to realize that by taking away an hour of sleep, you will not be able to do more, because you will become much less efficient during the day and end up doing the same amount, if not less, but feeling much worse.

Set aside half an hour to an hour daily in your schedule for a walk or a quiet lunch with your phone off. This will be a time for reflection and removal of cognitive and emotional stress, allowing you to recharge and process the information received. Listen to yourself and set your life on a rhythm: work on your most important projects during the hours when you are easiest to focus, and restfully during periods of energy decline. Remember that in music, not only notes are important, but also pauses.

Space for Solitude
Leo Babouta, creator of Zen Habits, one
of the most visited blogs on the internet

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine

People are often afraid to be alone. Not only for practical reasons but also because alone with ourselves we meet with all the fears, desires and thoughts that live deep in our minds. However, in conditions of constant social contact, we run the risk of completely wasting our energy, often switching between different streams of information.

Regular five-minute meditations help to overcome the fear of loneliness and conduct an informational detox. To do this, you do not need to download popular mindfulness apps or get into a difficult asana, just find a quiet place where no one will disturb you, sit down and focus on your own breathing. Notice each inhalation and exhalation. Then switch to your own body and focus on relaxing each muscle. At this time, various thoughts will pop up in your head, and your task – without being distracted from your main occupation – concentration on the body or breathing – is to note them for yourself, but not to continue and not develop. Thus, you will not only get to know your own consciousness better but also learn how to maintain concentration without being distracted by third-party information signals.

Focusing on what matters most

A job that distracts from work
Cal Newport, Associate Professor of Computer Science
at Georgetown University, Writer, Blogger

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine

Those working in the knowledge or creative industries have often experienced the paradox of being asked to solve extremely complex research or creative problems that require extreme concentration while being asked to always stay in touch and immediately respond to any incoming requests and questions. This frustrating phenomenon is so common because the losses associated with diverting from the main project to solve an ad-hoc task are difficult to assess, especially in terms of money. This complicates negotiations with those who bombard you with requests since you are not able to oppose something material to his momentary, but quite specific anxieties and problems.

However, there is a way to tangible your time of concentrated work – to reserve it in the calendar like an appointment or meeting. This is especially true if you work in a corporation where everyone has access to each other’s calendars, but even if you’re a freelancer, this technique can help you psychologically resist the feeling that someone has the right to distract you during this period.

This touches on the other side of the problem – our own attitude towards responding to incoming requests. We all want to feel in demand, and often the temptation to click on the icon with a highlighted number of messages in the corner exceeds the desire to finish the current work faster and better. That is why, in addition to the calendar trick, you need to turn off the phone and the Internet on the computer or block the mail client and social networks, there are special extensions for this.

Naturally, without habit, this practice can seem painful, so it’s best to start with an hour of concentration, and then add 15 minutes every two weeks until it becomes clear that it is no longer possible to maintain concentration. It is important to be disciplined and in case of violation of concentration in favor of a two-minute visit to the Facebook page, cancel the elapsed time and start over.

The practice of booking time will be easier to apply if you plan for this period a very specific task with a measurable result: finish a chapter where the action is in the Moroccan market, or write the code for a function that adds the selected item to the cart. All preliminary preparation: collecting materials about Moroccan markets or developing an algorithm at the heart of the function, as well as the subsequent verification of the work done, are separate tasks, time for which is also reserved separately. This is the main condition.

multitasking Christian Jarrett, psychologist, writer
and blogger at the British Psychological Society

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine

Research shows that the human brain can only efficiently perform multiple tasks at the same time if they are categorized as mechanical, like walking or making coffee in the morning. For more complex activities, simultaneous execution is impossible, only a quick switch between them is possible, and with a rather significant loss in performance quality.

The proof is in an experiment conducted by Laura Bauman and her team at Central Connecticut University. Some students were allowed to access social networks while reading a chapter of the textbook, others were not. As a result, the first group spent an average of 25% more time reading the chapter, excluding time spent on social media. The results were also confirmed when students were given a written task instead of reading, and television was used as a distraction instead of social media.

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine

The problem with switching is that it takes time for us to refocus on the task we were distracted from; and the more often we are distracted, the more difficult it is for us to re-enter the “flow” state.

And even if a person successfully resists the temptation to be distracted, having such an opportunity, it still negatively affects his productivity, since it takes a significant part of his mental efforts.

This was proven in an experiment at the University of Copenhagen where one group of students were allowed to watch a short funny video after completing the first part of the task, and another was given the opportunity, but they were asked to resist the urge to do so. As a result, the results of the second part of the task in this group were significantly worse than in the first.

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine

Conclusion: it is more effective to artificially remove all temptations – turn off the phone and take it to another room and block all distracting sites with the help of a special extension than to force yourself to resist them all the time.

Another problem with switching between tasks lies in the effect of “residual attention”. This is what psychologists call the state when, without finishing one lesson, we switch to another, while our brain still continues to think about the first in parallel.

Researcher Sophie Leroy conducted an experiment in which two groups were given the task of solving a crossword puzzle. She interrupted one group in the middle and asked them to switch to evaluating several resumes for compliance with the vacancy, the other first let them finish, and only then asked them to work on the resume. As a result, the average time spent evaluating all resumes was significantly lower in the second group. In addition, at the end, both groups were offered one more task: to highlight real words in a stream of letters.Participants from the first group were several times more likely to find words that were present in the crossword puzzle or related to it (“vertical”, “solve”), which signaled that their brain is still actively processing the experience with the crossword puzzle.

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine

Naturally, sometimes it is useful to take a break from work and, returning to it later, look at it with fresh eyes. However, it is better to do this without interrupting in the middle, but by defining some intermediate milestones in your project in advance.

Your brain against you
Dan Ariely, economist, professor of psychology,
one of the most famous specialists in behavioral economics

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine

There are many psychological characteristics of a person that subconsciously influence our behavior and often lead to irrational decisions. So, we like the feeling of progress, which is why we often prefer going through our inbox to continuing to work on a big important project, because in the first case we can feel the result right now. There is a technology that supports this trend in us: this is a calendar where any meeting or task can be fit into intervals of half an hour or an hour, and where complex tasks rarely appear that require 30-50 hours of independent work, the very ones that give us reasons for pride. In addition, we are less aware of the opportunity costs when it comes to time. We understand that if you budgeted 300 rubles for a movie ticket, but spent them on a cup of latte, we won’t be able to go to the cinema. However, the illusion is alive in us that if we spent half an hour of working time on social networks, then we will definitely find another compensating half an hour.

Social media itself is a great example of the reinforcement effect.

In a classic experiment confirming this effect, the rat continued to try to press the lever longer if it received a reward not after a certain number of clicks, but by chance.

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine

The same thing happens with social media: usually checking a page on Facebook doesn’t give us much emotion, but sometimes it happens, and we can’t predict the moment, and this forces us to check it more often.

Another concept that encourages our irrationality is the environment-driven choice architecture. It is known that if salads and fruits are at the beginning of the buffet, then the number of properly eating employees in the office is higher than if there were a variety of snacks. If you think about it, the mechanisms that drive your choices within the Facebook and YouTube architecture are specifically designed to get you to spend more time there, helping these companies make more money; The most illustrative example is the recommendation algorithm.

Multiply these effects together and you have a recipe for disaster. At the same time, it is insanely difficult to resist them on your own, diligently training self-control, because the more energy you have already spent on-resistance, the more you want to stop it. However, you can help yourself, for example, by adding progress markers to your work. It often happens that at first we spend 30 hours on failed attempts and searching for information, and then we really work for half an hour, since the idea finally came to our mind. In order not to feel like you have only worked for half an hour, it is important to record every attempt you make and every step you take towards your goal. Therefore, if you work on a computer, keep a diary at the same time with notes about each stage of your reflection, if you draw, save drafts.

How to Work Without Inspiration
Erin Doland, Writer,

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine

Most of the recognized artistic geniuses did not have rich patrons and were forced to earn a living by outside pursuits or use their talents in commercial projects.

Mark Twain worked as a miner for a long time, and then traveled around California, lecturing for a dollar an hour; Kurt Vonnegut taught English in schools, was a car dealer and wrote advertising articles.

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine

Naturally, this distracted them from creative work and exhausted their energy reserves. However, they somehow still managed to create masterpieces that remained in history.

We don’t know what techniques the greats used, but some modern research suggests a couple of ideas on how to get yourself to work, even if the inspiration counter is depressingly hovering around zero.

At Stanford, they conducted an experiment with children: they were offered to eat one piece of marshmallow now or wait a couple of minutes and get two. Those who managed to overcome the temptation of a quick reward, as a rule, used the method of distraction – singing, banging on the table, talking to themselves.

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine

With regard to focusing at work, you can also use a similar method: for example, focus not on the goal of finishing the chapter in the evening, but on filling the sheet with phrases related to it to the maximum in an hour, after which you can reward yourself with a cup of tea. This way, you will get back to work without feeling nervous about the complexity of the task at hand and the need to exercise self-control and not be distracted.

You can also develop self-control in areas not directly related to your work: train yourself not to say “well” at the beginning of every phrase or take contrast showers in the morning. Surprisingly, the development of willpower in one thing has a positive effect on its application to other tasks. Also, if you train your self-control to automate some important daily tasks like exercising, it reduces the amount of energy that was previously spent on these tasks, leaving more energy for creativity. If you still find it very difficult to show willpower, you can start with strategy games or listening to audiobooks, where it is important to maintain concentration throughout the session.

In addition, scientists from the University of California have shown that the ability to focus on a complex task is positively affected by a change in activity from mental to physical. Therefore, during periods of rest, it is more useful to go for a walk than to sit down to read or watch a popular science lecture.

It may seem that all these tricks are reminiscent of the life of athletes who have a whole set of rituals, how and what to do before, during, and after training in order to achieve maximum results. In part, this is true: if you are aiming for Olympic gold in your field, you will have to listen carefully to yourself and invent an insane amount of methods to help you keep moving towards your goal every day.

Time to Defocus and Find Inspiration
Scott Belsky, Behance Creator, Writer, Entrepreneur

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine

There are often moments in our lives when we can’t get down to business, even if we really wanted to: the queue for coffee, a haircut, or an intermission at the theater. Usually, at this time we take out the phone and dive into the Internet and social networks, missing out on valuable opportunities for reflection and making new acquaintances. The Internet doesn’t promote discovery: either you type in a specific query and wade through a tropic of suggested sites, or your reading list sets up a recommendation algorithm that circles around your past interests. But when you put your phone down and look around, you might hear an interesting conversation, spot an unusual inspiring architectural design, or see someone’s unfulfilled need., which can become a new niche for your products and ideas. People have come up with a million formats for networking, but don’t underestimate the magic of chance encounters.

Perhaps the man in the chair to your left, who came to the same production, may become your biggest client in the future, and the girl walking the dog in the same park as you turns out to be a brilliant web designer who can greatly help you with the development of the site. .

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine

This does not mean that you absolutely need to impose your company on everyone around you, but if you are immersed in the phone all the time, even those who want to get to know you themselves are likely to pass by. But most importantly, by not giving yourself time to distract from information flows and focus on the present moment, you overload your own mind, reducing its potential to create ideas and develop interesting solutions. Often the answer lies on the surface, and all you need is to listen to yourself, instead of opening a search engine.

Taming Technology

E-mail: time thief
Aaron Dignan, CEO of a firm that develops digital
transformation strategies for large corporations, writer

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine

A McKinsey Global Institute study found that, on average, white-collar workers spend about 28% of their workday writing and reading e-mail. If your statistics are not so depressing, you are lucky. However, many of us often chase after the perfect order in the mailbox and then wonder why so little gets done in a day.

Of course, there are a million techniques for optimizing your email experience, but they all require complex setup, additional extensions, and discipline. Instead of introducing even more tools, and trying to cope with one, it is easier to change your approach and your attitude towards it.

Imagine that your mailbox is an extension of your brain. Then define a shortlist of your top goals. To write a book? Travel to New Zealand? Interview your favorite director? Create folders for these goals, and evaluate each incoming e-mail in terms of its potential contribution to achieving these goals. Then you will stop losing important opportunities for urgent matters and will be able to accurately determine the place of those letters that contain material that is interesting, but not yet relevant to your goals – the archive.

Social media for and against work
Laurie Deschen, creator of the blog

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine

Few businesses today can exist without using social media as a channel for promotion and analytics. However, this tool is tricky: social media is a source of easy satisfaction that’s hard to resist, especially if you’re frustrated, angry, or looking for a way to put off work on a big, complex project. Therefore, the first step towards the conscious use of social networks is to set boundaries for yourself when, how much, and why you can use them. To do this, it is enough to answer a few key questions:

  • What value will the planned actions bring to me and the people who are important to me?
  • Are there any emotions or things I’m trying to avoid?
  • Is social media the best way to get things done or do I just want to use it because it’s modern/fun?

It is also important to understand that any social media-related metrics are not yet an indicator of the success of your business. Growth in subscribers or traffic is great, but until it brings in money, there is no point in spending time tracking these changes. It is better to focus not on the quantity, but on the quality of your contacts. A long and deep conversation with a few smart people with the expertise and resources you need is usually more rewarding than a lot of posts aimed at a general audience. In addition, in this context, you do not need to come up with an enticing presentation model for yourself, you can safely enjoy the luxury of being yourself, and at the same time, the feeling of personal involvement and return from helping others will be much higher.

The Physiological Consequences
of Technology
Mismanagement Linda Stone, writer and consultant, former
executive at a technology company

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine

Over the several thousand years of human civilization, we have domesticated many animals, plants, and materials, learning how to successfully avoid the dangers that they can potentially carry. But our relationship with technology is still too young, we carelessly and unwisely lead our digital life, not even suspecting that it can negatively affect our physiological life.

The first danger posed by technology is muscle weakness and poor circulation of blood and lymph due to continuous sitting in front of the screen. Therefore, it is important to periodically take breaks for movement: go pour yourself some tea, get up to do exercises, get distracted and take a walk. By doing so, you will reduce the likelihood of many health problems, including thrombosis and being overweight.

Another danger, which is much less known than a sedentary lifestyle, is screen apnea. Many people know about sleep apnea – a sudden stoppage of breathing during sleep, but the experiment showed that in a sample of 200 people who used smartphones and laptops, the majority during this time held their breath or breathed very shallowly, especially when responding to incoming messages. This reaction leads to a decrease in the oxygen content in the blood, which negatively affects the functioning of the kidneys, the immune system, and, most importantly, brain neurons. The latter is mainly associated with a decrease in the content of nitric oxide, which is part of the mediators in nerve cells associated with learning, pain, and, possibly, depressive states. In addition, shallow breathing activates the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the stress response: the pulse speeds up, and signals from the body that indicate hunger, lack of sleep, or painful sensations are suppressed. So we can spend hours behind the screen without a break for lunch, noticing the pain in the neck and lower back.

Screen apnea is more difficult to deal with than a sedentary lifestyle. However, there are categories of people who are not affected by it: musicians, dancers, athletes, and pilots who use various breath control techniques in their professional lives. This may seem like overkill, however, if we want or have to spend a lot of time in front of the screen, we need to develop the ability to control our breath: do yoga, martial arts, or swimming.

You are smarter than your smartphone
James Victor, art director, designer, writer

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine

Think about how much our smartphones know about us and how easily we let them into our lives, completely changing many cultural norms. Previously, a weekend call from work was considered an invasion of privacy, an exception, but now everyone expects us to be always in touch, even friends who are bored from doing nothing, let alone bosses and clients. At the very dawn of the advent of mobile phones, taking them to the table with you was considered a manifestation of disrespect for those who sat down at this table with you, now the smartphone is firmly entrenched in modern etiquette, there, to the right of the knife.

Through the fault of notifications and constant availability for requests from others, we lose our understanding of the difference between important and urgent. , and we often spin like a squirrel in a wheel, doing only the latter, even when we ourselves don’t really need it. We have almost ceased to trust ourselves, even in matters of choice we rely on the algorithm of recommendations: Google, Amazon, and Tinder choose what we have, what to use and whom to meet. Of course, this makes our life more convenient and easier, but at the same time more limited and boring. Previously, getting lost in a new city and finding your hotel after a few hours, having got acquainted with a good half of the inhabitants of the city, was an adventure, which was then told to friends over a glass for several years. Now it seems like a stupid mistake and a thoughtless waste of time for a person who does not know how to use Google Maps.

It would be foolish to completely refuse the benefits that smartphones give us, but we should not forget which of us owns whom. Don’t let your smartphone colonize your life: be mindful of the data you share with apps and the information you upload to social networks, don’t accept 24/7 availability as a default option, and let yourself try to solve some of the issues that we habitually delegate to the company from Silicon valleys. Even if you make a mistake, be sure to learn something.

Overcoming blocks of motivation and inspiration

Create for yourself
Todd Henry, founder of Accidental Creative, writer

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine

If you manage to make money with your creativity, that’s great, but sooner or later you will most likely realize that all your work over a long period of time was made under the idea and vision of the customer. In this state of affairs, it is difficult for you to fully use your creative potential and actively develop. You begin to focus more on competitors than on your own long-term goals, and your creativity becomes not an expedition to explore yourself and the world around you or a tool for self-expression, but a struggle to achieve success, where mistakes are undesirable, and the chances of creating something unique are minimal.

However, you should not impose your preferences on customers and struggle with the restrictions imposed within the company – you will only ruin your reputation and nerves. It is better to leave some part of your free time for creating works that would be of interest to you. It makes no sense to start with the ideas of grandiose projects, it is enough to devote half an hour or an hour a day to the rough embodiment of any ideas that come to mind. Even if you don’t have free time, look for it: don’t take on so many projects at work, treat the edits sent in easier, and don’t waste time on resistance. Such a switch will allow you to avoid burnout associated with the loss of interest in creativity, explore yourself, and find directions for further development. As soon as these areas are determined, you can start devoting half an hour or an hour to some specific projects and actively look for opportunities to reinforce them with resources from the main place of work without compromising current client projects. But even if you don’t have any concrete potentially embodied ideas,

Set the stage for inspiration
Scott McDowell, owner of an executive search
and development firm

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine

No one knows how inspiration occurs and what parts of the brain need to be stimulated to create a masterpiece. However, the most successful writers, artists, and musicians have always tried to hack this process in every possible way and find, if not a recipe for a guaranteed creative flow, then at least individual tricks that stimulate approaching this state. Salvador Dali fell asleep in an armchair with a spoon in his hand, and when she fell on the saucer below, he woke up and rushed to write down the thoughts and images swarming in his head, and Ray Bradbury every morning first of all put random phrases in his notebook that appeared in his head. If you don’t have the inspiration to create now, experiment with what you already have in your head when you’re not focused on the task.

You can even specifically distract yourself from work and immerse yourself in some kind of contemplative process for this: explore an unknown part of the city or take a ride on public transport without a specific direction. Another way is to try to immerse yourself in a completely unexplored environment by switching to using techniques and tools for work that you do not know how to use or collecting a lot of unrelated ideas that are not directly related to the project you are working on, and try to combine them into something meaningful.

Sometimes it’s worth considering what exactly is blocking you in your work: perhaps there are too many parameters to take into account, or, on the contrary, there are too few restrictions, and you don’t even know where to start. In this case, the solution may be to experiment with the removal or addition of boundaries in the process.

One of the challenges with inspiration is that it’s individual, so you probably can’t just copy the techniques others use, and you’ll have to experiment a lot. Think about what you were doing before the last time you felt at the peak of your creative form, and take that as a starting point. Be persistent in your search and remember that if you always stay within the familiar and comfortable, you will hardly be able to surpass your past achievements.

Get Rid of Perfectionism by
Elizabeth Saunders, writer, coach

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine

Perfectionism is an individual striving for perfection, setting excessively high standards of performance, coupled with an overly critical assessment of one’s own actions and achievements, as well as a painful attitude towards evaluation from others. Perfectionists force themselves to achieve the level of productivity that they imagined in their head, even if it absolutely does not correspond to their real capabilities, and feel at their best only if they succeed. In all other cases, they inevitably experience severe stress.

Of course, with such settings, it is likely that the result will exceed all possible expectations, but the question is in the price. The first is the enormous stress that always accompanies the implementation of any project and often leads to burnout. The second is the fear of ambitious projects, similar to those that once failed to achieve an ideal result. The third is the limitations associated with the fear of making a mistake and preventing you from trying risky, but interesting ideas. Fourth, is the fear of others giving the perfectionist developmental feedback out of concern for his emotional response.

In addition, perfectionism puts barriers at every stage of work. . The perfectionist is looking for the perfect moment to start, but it never comes because it just doesn’t exist. Then at the last moment, he pulls himself together, develops a frantic pace, does not sleep at night, and suffers, because he thinks that the quality of work would be better if he started earlier. He then goes into detail, trying to make every little thing perfect, and spends hours gathering information that seems relevant to his work, but doesn’t solve the problems the project has right now. As a result, the first part of the project is completed well, but the perfectionist has almost no time for the rest, and he is also too overwhelmed by the absorbed amount of information and the super-fast pace at which he had to work. The perfectionist makes another superhuman effort on himself and approaches completion, but he can’t hand over the project in any way, making more and more changes to it, until it becomes as similar as possible to the image in his head or starts to dream at night, begging to hand it over to the customer. As a result, when the project is finally delivered, even if the customer jumps with delight, but at the same time makes some minor remark, the perfectionist feels devastation and shame.

At the same time, it probably seems to him that if you abandon this approach, then the quality of work and his reputation will fall and there will be no chance to create something unique and outstanding. This is not true. By stopping looking for the perfect moment to start and starting early, you can better appreciate the complexity of the work and the resources needed for it and not add problems to yourself by finding them at later stages. By investing not in working out the details, but in creating the first finished version of the project as quickly as possible, you will definitely not miss the deadlines and leave yourself much more room for maneuver not only in the details but also in the overall concept of the project. Having determined in advance the minimum requirements, upon reaching which you can call the project completed, you will set clear guidelines for movement for yourself, ensuring you from spraying, and give yourself the right, on occasion, to switch to another interesting job without feeling pangs of conscience. Finally, when you stop thinking that everyone should like you and your work, you can see many new directions for development, just by opening up feedback.

Turn Enemies into Friends
Mark McGuinness, writer, coach

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine

Sometimes, after careful introspection, we are quite able to determine for ourselves what exactly hinders productive work. However, just identifying the causes is not enough, you still need to correctly develop a strategy to eliminate them, or at least reduce their negative effect. Here are six of the most common creative blocks and tips for working with them.

The first block is the depletion of forces and ideas specifically for the current project. If this project is not urgent, then the best strategy is to leave it for a while (sometimes a few days of a break is enough), and then get it from the mezzanine again, shake off the dust and try again.

So Mark Twain did with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: after working on the book for a considerable time, he realized that he could not finish it, and abandoned it. Two years later, having accidentally stumbled upon an unfinished manuscript, the writer again felt the desire to work on it, and so one of the most famous books for children was born.

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine

The second block is the fear of error and condemnation. Such a barrier is common among beginners, but even professionals are sometimes subject to it, especially if they decide to move away from familiar topics and tasks and try something new. In this case, the best strategy is not to immediately set out to create something for a wide audience, but first, try to show your work to close friends and only then decide if you want to make it public.

The third block is a mixed motivation when participation in the project is connected not only directly with interest in it, but also with some reputational and financial opportunities. Most of all, such a block is common among musical groups, many of which eventually get tired of the pressure associated with the need to maintain the image of the group and without fail to collect stadiums even at the cost of limited creative freedom. Here, the best strategy is to separate the desire for success and the desire to create. Do not enter into contracts that impose too many restrictions on you in an empty pursuit of quick success, and once the contract is concluded with you, put aside all thoughts of rewards that accompany the achievement of the result and focus on the process.

The fourth block is personal problems. You may be in the middle of a divorce, have a falling out with your best friend, or have a restless and arrogant neighbor move into the apartment above you. Such things always happen unexpectedly, often at the same time, and can unsettle you for a long time. Try to think of your creativity as a distraction and don’t beat yourself up if you manage to get very little done.

Frida Kahlo, whose life was full of tragedies and pain, often repeated that painting for her is a way to find solace in herself and get away from the loneliness associated with difficult life circumstances.

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine

The fifth block is the lack of money, time, or knowledge. The need for fiction is cunning – drop your worries and start perceiving resource constraints as a challenge. If you are still in doubt, then remember the first two parts of Star Wars or the first album of the Liverpool Four.

The sixth block is difficult with sales. Few people naturally have the skills to promote themselves and their ideas, and often representatives of creative professions avoid the need to get to know people and present their projects in every possible way. Sometimes this avoidance goes so far that it even affects the work on projects, especially after receiving negative feedback or a reaction to an attempt to meet. The best strategy for dealing with this block is to develop communication skills and build resistance to criticism. Whether you’re just starting your career, or want to come back after a long hiatus, don’t be afraid to find someone who can help you with that. So, David Bowie saved Iggy Pop’s career in 1976 by inviting him as a guest to go on his tour and deeply impressed the rocker with the organization of both the tour itself and the marketing campaign.

You are not alone in dealing with creative blocks, most geniuses have experienced them, and what sets them all apart and makes them great is the perseverance and tenacity to resist self-doubt, criticism and rejection.

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine

Top 10 Thoughts

1. We live in a mode of eternal employment, because we try to always be available and fulfill the requests of other people, it is difficult for us to draw a line between our own desires and the demands of the outside world, and as a result, our own sacrifices for the sake of insignificant requests from others, wanting to remain good for everyone.

2. The simplest recipe for moving towards the realization of your main goals: determine what hours your energy is at its peak, and reserve them in your calendar for working on the projects that are most important to you. Divide this time into blocks of an hour and a half, allocate a specific task for each block with a measurable result and concentrate on its implementation, if you get distracted, cancel the elapsed time and start the block again. During work, turn off your phone and take it to another room and block social networks and your email client.

3. Don’t try to extend your day by taking time for sleep, family, or hobbies, but build your day in advance so that you have at least half an hour to yourself when you can recharge. Leave time for physical activity, even if it’s just a quiet walk: switching from mental to physical activity favorably affects our ability to focus.

4. Don’t fall into the sin of multitasking. Our brain is still unable to cope with several tasks at the same time if they are not mechanical like walking or making coffee in the morning.

5. Perfectionism does not lead to better results, but only to chronic stress and inhibition in development.

6. Instead of waiting for inspiration, take a cue from famous creative geniuses: create an environment that is most conducive to productive work, train yourself to work for at least 15 minutes a day, and experiment with ways to hack your idea generator: for example, try new tools or dive in an unfamiliar environment.

7. Remember that you are the owner of your electronic devices, not they are your own. Do not look for solace and easy fun on social networks. Don’t spend hours parsing e-mail, keep folders there for your main goals and evaluate each message in terms of its contribution to achieving them. Do not give your smartphone the right to be with you everywhere and take any free 15 minutes, it is better to look around and explore the world around at this time, it can give you much more ideas than Google’s recommendation algorithm.

8. Analyze what is blocking you and be persistent in dealing with it. Remember that lack of motivation is not an indicator of your abilities, there is a strategy for overcoming any barrier. Too many work restrictions? Try to solve the problem by removing some of them. Too little? Add restrictions. Are you afraid of judgment? First, show the project to someone you trust, and then decide whether you want to make it public. Run out of energy and ideas? Postpone the project for a while.

9. Even if you really want to make money with your business and succeed, do not make a race out of it, leave time to create for yourself. This will save you from burnout, help you find areas for further development, and acquire skills that may be useful in the future.

10. To become a professional, you will have to take the position of a person who knows what he is doing, is confident in his abilities, is ready to take responsibility for his actions, promote himself and listen to criticism in his address. And not only today but also tomorrow and the day after tomorrow.

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