being busy is not the same as being creative

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So, what does your to-do list look like?

If it’s anything like mine ….

  • it’s full of life-maintenance-type activities like grocery shopping
  • it’s full of half-finished creative projects I started in a flurry of creative energy and then got distracted from
  • it’s full of ‘someday’ projects that I haven’t yet had the time to do
  • it’s full of ‘next step’ activities for bigger projects I am still working on finishing

Sure, I may spend hours working on these things, diligently crossing off my finished projects and keep on chugging along to work through all this work…. There is ABSOLUTELY a benefit to working this way. Setting SMART goals and creating an action plan with identifiable tasks to complete at each step will undoubtedly set you on the path to really finishing your big projects and reaching your goals.

But really, working on the activities and tasks and completing projects step-by-step is NOT the same thing as creating.

Being BUSY is not the same thing as being CREATIVE.

Both have their own place, of course, but don’t mistake your full schedule for doing creative work.

There’s a reason those rote, mindless activities we are forced to do in school (and at work) are called “BUSY-WORK” …. Just something to keep us busy, keep us from thinking, keep us from creating, keep us from connecting the dots and problem-solving.

Creativity means making connections between seemingly unrelated things …. and there’s not an easy way to do that if you are focused focused focused on your next task in your action plan.

Busywork is shallow, surface task-completing. Thinking creatively is more of a meandering and deep-thought activity.

Being busy means focusing on what needs to be done today. Being creative involves thinking big-picture and what you want to accomplish this year.

Creativity needs space.

So this week – take something off of your to-do list.

Heck. Take 5 things off of your list. Build in some padding and pauses. Give your brain some room to breathe.

Try doodling or day dreaming or ‘resting your eyes’ …. Anything to give yourself a chance to explore the edges of your thoughts and think more creatively.

And THEN take your new creative idea and create the to-do list to help you finish that new project.

For more actionable tips on jump-starting your creativity, make sure you grab my free guide SHIFT.

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  • Han October 17, 2011 at 5:59 am edit

    A friend of mine wrote her to do list down on a sheet of A1 (so that’s like A4/letter size x 8) it was broken down into categories and then she started on it – she counted how many to-do’s were on her list and she was on about 100! eep!

    I think mine gets to about 30 then I start crossing off. I need to start a new list though other wise my brain might turn to mush at the moment.

  • Han October 17, 2011 at 6:00 am edit

    that should be x8 ) not 8)

  • Amy October 17, 2011 at 9:35 am edit

    I love the activity of doing a brain dump, and writing EVERYTHING down that I’ve been planning/thinking about doing ….

  • Kelly October 17, 2011 at 9:21 am edit

    Great post, Amy! I’ve been letting my busy schedule get in the way of creating, but that does nothing but get me all scatter brained & flustered. I think I’m going to re-evaluate my To Do list, pare it down & make some room for my creative side to get things done.

  • Amy October 17, 2011 at 9:34 am edit

    thanks Kelly …. Personally, I love the feeling of accomplishment that comes with crossing things off my to do list, so it’s always hard for me to remember this …
    Maybe, I should put “make room for being creative” on my To Do list :) Best of both worlds … ha!

  • Nancy October 24, 2011 at 6:24 pm edit

    My most creative times are when I have a change of scenery, away from home and all the reminders of what my daily tasks and to-do’s are. Long drives or road trips are great or when I don’t have that much time, just sitting alone at a coffee house or park are a good start. That’s when I can clear my head and really think outside the box.


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