Here’s a challenge. Take everything you do this week and divide it into 1 of these 4 boxes:
If your life is anything like mine, the Urgent & Unimportant list outweighs the others many days. All those tasks that suck up our time because they are right in front of us– answer that email, check Twitter, pick up milk, volunteer to help with a school event, get the mail, change the laundry– are so tantalizingly easy to check off the list.
But for those of us who want to lead a purposeful life, bring creativity to our work, and be present for our children, it’s the Important & Not Urgent list we need to attend to. What’s the next big idea for a client? Is the current strategy working, or does it need to be tweaked? Am I just running through the paces, or am I bringing my best and most creative thinking to my work? Am I present for my children when they really need me, or am I too busy baking cookies for the PTO? It’s so easy to put off the big questions that require clear and focused thinking when I’m running around like a crazy woman completing task after task.
For me, protecting space to be creative is something I need to be very intentional about. Otherwise, the urgent feels important, even when it’s not. Here are a couple ways I try to keep the creative juices flowing and my mind free for the important things in life:
- Change the scenery. If you’re starting at a blank screen with your fingers hovering over the keyboard waiting for brilliance to strike, you may need to change your space. For me, some of my best and most creative thinking occurs on a solitary xc ski trail.
- Schedule your day around your energy. Some people are night owls; others find peace and clarity of mind in the early hours of the morning. Rather than schedule your day around other peoples availability, protect those precious hours of productivity for yourself, your writing, and your big picture thinking.
- Create space. Back in my agency days, we used to have “writing days”– one or two days a week we were encouraged to block out and work from home. No meetings, no interruptions, no office drama. Blissful.
- Find inspiration. I know it sounds kind of hokey, but attend a lecture, find a workshop, or borrow a book from the library that inspires you and gives you a new perspective.
- Know when to quit. For me, the words are either flowing, or they’re simply not there. Writing a paragraph is either arduous and painful, or my fingers are flying. If it’s the former, I’ve learned I’m much better off doing something else and coming back to it later.
- Spend some of your best thinking on your family and relationships, don’t squander it all on work. Make time with your spouse or partner to really connect on important questions. One of my friends books a “retreat” with her husband every spring and even keeps an agenda for their weekend.
- Set a goal. For me, clearly articulating what I’m working for helps me to navigate my priorities and not get too wrapped up in the problem-du-jour. This is equally true for my kids as it is for my work.
Creating and protecting space for the Important, but not Urgent, things in my life is a constant endeavor for me and I would love to hear from anyone who has tips, ideas or inspiration to add to this list.Filed under Uncategorized | Comment (0)