As creatives we are often viewed and placed value upon by what and how much we produce. Right we get it that is what we love to do, generate ideas, design, write, film, animate, vision and so on and on and on! The truth is one can not always be producing something, the shear energy required to stay plugged in at that level leads to burnout and mistakes. Ideas don’t just come from nowhere as Todd Henry talks about in “The Accidental Creative” to cultivate and harness the ability to generate ideas and solve problems comes from energy management and building a routine that fosters it. Watching how and where we spend our time and energy is very important when it comes to our ability to sustainably function at a high level.
K. Anders Ericsson a leading expert on performance states that we are optimized for about 90 minutes of deep focus at a time where after we will be fatigued mentally and need time to rest and recuperate. He explains that we are able to work for about 4.5 hours a day at a very high cognitive level which would be three 90 minute session each followed by a period of rest. Ericsson also talks about the importance of sleep, energy management and practice, practice, practice. Pretty interesting dude nonetheless so I encourage you as well as myself to look into his work a bit more closely.
So on to being less productive right? Not exactly, but there is also a period of time that is needed in a project for idea generation, concept art, testing ideas and discovering new techniques or mediums. This is often referred to as R&D time and is not always afforded in the busy hustle and bustle of a deliverable based environment. However I think that making time for practice, exploration and testing is vital to broadening our creative tool box and coming up with bad ass ideas that win the hearts and minds of our audience! Without it we would stagnate and our work would suffer over the long term and eventually we may even loose interest in what it is that inspired us to be creative to begin with. Just because you don’t have a tangible thing at the end of the process does not mean it was time wasted, in fact you might just have found a solution to an challenge on your next project.