“The key to getting in a creative state is to avoid interruptions.”

So says John Clese in this wonderful, ten minute video from the recent World Creativity Forum in Belgium.

My own experiences also validate this statement. My wife heard this excerpt of the video tonight as I was playing it on my laptop and asked, “Is that why you stay up so late writing?” My reply: “Yes, exactly.” I crave uninterrupted time to learn and reflect. With a day job, a wonderful wife and three terrific kids, late at night is about the only time I can find which meets this requirement for creativity.

While I agree with John’s observation about creativity and interruptions, I heartily DISAGREE with his assertion that “We know we don’t get them [our creative ideas] from our laptops.” I am positive a great deal of my ideas which become the raw materials for new sytheses (at times creative thoughts) are brought to me precisely by my laptop. I do agree with John’s point that our unconscious mind brings us creative ideas, but I will assert that the raw materials with which our minds (both conscious and unconscious) forge new neural connections certainly CAN come from digital communications, on laptops.

I also agree with John’s observation that we can’t be creative people by simply “keeping all the balls in the air” during the day and checking off items on our “to-do” lists. While busyness does not lead to creativity, I do think there is merit to the GTD idea that being able to securely “deposit” all our to-do’s into a trusted system (mine is Toodledo) can free our minds to be more creative.

John argues that we have to create an oasis amidst the busyness of our lives which includes boundaries of SPACE and TIME in order to be creative. Boundaries are very important. As I’ve noted previously, defined boundaries allow us to have “margin” in our lives which is critical for not only mental health but also “success” in economic as well as relational contexts.

Turning a cell phone off or putting it in “airplane mode” is critical in creating real boundaries of space and time for creative thought, as John discusses in this video. He doesn’t make this point, but it is an idea which immediately came to my mind as I listened to him.

This final quotation from John struck a major chord with me. I won’t relate why at this point, but it certainly does.

If the people in charge are very egotistical, then they want to take credit for everything that happens, and they want to feel that they are in control of everything that happens, and that means consciously or unconsciously they will discourage creativity in other people.

Some great thoughts to think about. If you say you want to encourage creativity, are you still fretting over who gets the credit for the good work which is done? This is an instructive litmus test for many contexts.

Nod to Ewan McIntosh for sharing this video.

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  • Great video–thanks for sharing. I am so happy to see the idea of creativity coming up over and over again when we talk about education. It seems that the goal of creativity was lost for a while and was not being discussed as an important goal. Creativity seems key to me.

    Franki

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  • Wesley, thanks for sharing! Very insightful.

    Creating “boundaries of time and space” is so important when focusing on any task.

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