The demand for brilliance and creativity can be difficult in the workplace. Project deadlines, the evil eye from your boss that says “you better get this right” and the pressure from yourself to create valuable work that will be celebrated by clients and readers can cause your work to feel like an impossible chore with outsized expectations.
Todd Henry: The Man with a Plan
Enter Todd Henry. Henry, self-described as an arms dealer for the creative revolution, has written books and blogs, spoken at conferences and consumed himself with helping people consistently create effective work with just a few tweaks to their daily routine. One of Henry’s two books he has written is The Accidental Creative: How to be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice. In the book Henry explains how those whose work demands a level of creativity can consistently produce their best creative work by establishing methodologies and practices in their daily routine. Henry provides a number of different strategies to assist creatives in developing their ideas and producing effective and successful projects that carry meaning and value. These stratagies are revolved around managing a busy and sometimes hectic work schedule that can sap the brilliance of a creative’s work. Henry focuses on techniques that emphasize implementing time management skills that allow creatives to establish times to deeply engage in certain tasks to produce more effective work, take the time to brainstorm and develop fresh ideas, manage relationships and energy levels that can inspire a creative’s work and many other aspects of a creative’s work that is vital to producing brilliant work consistently.
Read this book! I urge people to read this book and make an effort to adopt the techniques and practices that Henry speaks of. I was refreshed when reading this book to find that Henry doesn’t simply fill the book full of clichés and motivational words, but instead articulates on the process involved with creating consistent and meaningful work.
Henry’s book was instrumental as I learned so many practices and strategies to produce consistent, valuable and timely work. The main points I took away from this book were to emphasize effectiveness over efficiency, construct routine, but also add discomfort into your life and take time to be visionary for yourself.
Effectiveness over Efficiency
I learned that being efficient and attempting to do all of our tasks to check things off our to-do list is actually counterproductive and that undertaking effectiveness is the solution. Although we may feel efficient jumping from task to task and getting multiple things accomplished we are actually sacrificing time and certainly quality in our work by not devoting enough time to fully engage and focus on these tasks. Focusing on effectiveness and fully engaging in one task at a time creates our most valuable work and ideas and we waste less time throughout the day refocusing on tasks.
Constructing Routine with Discomfort
Much like I expected in the book, Henry states that performing his practices every now and then isn’t enough, they need to be implemented into our daily routine to be truly successful, but making a conscious effort to place discomfort in our lives? Henry talks about how it’s important to experience discomfort in new situations and circumstances as a form of creating stimuli. This self-created stimuli not only allows us to grow creatively and open our mind to new ideas for our work, but also reenergizes us to pursue our work.
I wasn’t surprised that Henry set to keep sight of your bigger ideas and career goals in your daily life, but the methods that Henry suggests did capture my interest. Henry says it’s important to schedule Idea Time into our day to give yourself the opportunity to simply sit and do nothing but think creatively. Don’t skimp on the allotted period of time you allow for this, Henry says it’s important to give ourselves about an hour to immerse ourselves in thought over creative ideas. He also suggests making notecards to carry around throughout the day that envision our visionary and dreamy projects. It’s important to keep these project ideas with us in order to relate the stimuli we take in throughout the day to our ideas.