This morning, I watched a really great video about changing our education system. I answered emails, beat a friend in the final round of Scrabble, read an interesting article about the director of the new Spiderman musical, and researched Pi Day – all from the comfort of my office, thanks to the internet.
I also got completely off track with my day.
Because, what I was supposed to do this morning is write this blog post. My morning is gone and I am just now getting around to my writing time. Which is a shame, because writing comes easiest to me in the mornings. I know this about myself. I also know that once I turn on my computer and say something like “I’ll just check my email” or “I’ll just tweet this idea before I forget,” I am already in trouble. One tweet inevitably leads to two Facebook posts, which leads to playing my turn at Scrabble, which leads to checking what my friends are posting, which leads me to a 10-2o minute video, which leads to a trip to Amazon.com to look for books on the same topic which leads to… You get the idea.
Expanding your mind is a great way to stimulate creativity, except when it gets in the way of creating. So, how do you get back on track to actually create? You have to unplug.
As hard as it is, turn off the television or the ipod. Close out every program on your computer except the one you need for the actual creation process. Turn your ringer off and hide your cell phone so you can’t hear it vibrate or see it light up if a call comes in. Unplug from non-electronic things too. If the laundry suddenly starts calling to you or you start tackling an enormous organization project because you’re at your house, then walk out the door and take only what you need to create. Set aside a space where your paints or your clay or whatever creation tools you have can live, set up and ready to go the minute you turn your attention to them. If you can’t trust yourself to write on your computer because you can’t resist opening your email in case anything important comes in, then buy a notebook and pen you love and start writing by hand. Because the voice of creativity whispers a lot and can easily be drowned out when there are too many distractions.
Amazingly, Facebook and your friends and all those interesting TED videos, and yes, even the laundry (unfortunately) will still be there when you plug back in. That spark of creativity, well, ignore that for any period of time, and it could be lost forever. Unplug intentionally and often and your creativity will skyrocket.