I’ve been thinking rather a lot about time lately, probably because with three children I have so little of it. I have always considered myself to be at my best under pressure, a last min creative thinker that just pulls it out the bag but thinking about it…I’m not. I spend a lot of my time mulling a question/challenge/idea before ever ‘actively’ trying to solve it. On closer inspection, it turns out that I am a real incubator (I’ll resist the obvious joke here!) So having mulled it over here are five ways we can use time to help us be more creative…
1. The extended effort principle
Dr Sidney J Parnes, an American academic, professor at Buffalo State College and the co-founder of the International Center for Studies in Creativity, showed that the longer you go on having ideas, the more ideas you have, the greater the chance of something good. He called this the Extended Effort Principle and it is the foundation of all idea generation.
2. Use time as an accelerator
When stuck give yourself a deadline, try just taking 15 mins to finish what you are working on. Whatever it is…work you are doing…session you are planning…the thing you are writing etc… And stick to it.
3. Speed time up
Give your self a challenge. Work at speed in order to get out as many ideas as possible. Because of the pressure of time, there is less time for judging and filtering – and this is a great volume generator and a great inhibition-loser. It’s also good for energy. So, it could go like this:
– Give yourself 5 minutes to generate10 ideas
– Or 1 minute to have as many ideas as you can – challenge a colleague
– Race a colleague – First person to 25 ideas wins a prize
– Put yourself on the spot
4. Embrace time as an incubator
Take a break…go away and do something else…sleep…eat…read…tackle some different work…watch a movie and come back to it after a while.
The most famous anecdote told about Archimedes is how he discovered the principle of buoyancy. According to Vitruvius, a new crown in the shape of a laurel wreath had been made for King Hieron, and Archimedes was asked to determine whether it was of solid gold, or whether silver had been added by a dishonest goldsmith. Archimedes had to solve the problem without damaging the crown, so he could not melt it down to measure its density as a cube, which would have been the simplest solution. While taking a bath, he noticed that the level of water rose as he got in. He realised that this effect could be used to determine the volume of the crown, and therefore its density after weighing it. The density of the crown would be lower if cheaper and less dense metals had been added. He then took to the streets naked, so excited by his discovery that he had forgotten to dress, crying “Eureka!” (“I have found it!”)
5. Put yourself into ‘Time Out’
Take a 30 second pause and ask your self ‘is there a better way?’…What can you do differently?…what can you better? …Look at every element to see what the alternatives might be…Are they an improvements? Have a good, productive time.
Written by Now Go Create trainer Anahita Milligan.