This is a short story about two kinds of people and I’m telling it to make an equally short (and sweet) point.
The first person in our story gets up every day at 4:30am, makes the bed, immediately answers emails, reviews his to do lists, works out, eats breakfast and, coffee in hand, goes to the office to spend the day getting as many things done in between meetings as possible. Then, after work is done, has dinner, watches a little TV and is in bed and often fast asleep by 9pm. This person is a model of efficiency, discipline and, of course, productivity.
The other guy will often wake up in the middle of the night only to record an idea into the voice memo app on his smartphone, tends to skip shaving on especially creative days and can spend hours staring sightlessly at the wall looking for something inarticulate that feels just out of reach until he can finally get it down in some kind of written or recorded form. A classic “creative type.”
To the casual observer, these two people would appear to be polar opposites except that I am both of them.
As an independent contractor for the past thirty-plus years, I’ve learned that organization, discipline and productivity are the keys to keeping my business afloat. However, given that I make my living as a professional songwriter, I’ve learned to make room in my life for pure creativity without which I wouldn’t have much to produce or organize in the first place.
While I’m sure that nature had a role to play in both sides of my personality, I’m equally certain that I’ve had to nurture both the productive and creative sides of my life in order to build a career around my passion.
Another truth that I’ve discovered over the years is that I genuinely need both sides of the productive/creative coin in order to be truly happy. Productivity and discipline on its own would feel dry and uninspired. However, staying in a creative mindset all the time would feel overwhelming and exhausting. The best way I know to describe my particular situation is that each side of my personality makes the other side more worthwhile and fulfilling.
As I said at the start, this is a short story but stay tuned for more of my thoughts about ways to make room for – and balance – productivity and creativity in your own life.
Find out more about Cliff’s creativity & innovation workshops for business teams.