You are typically far more creative first thing in the morning right after waking. This is why it’s such a great ideas to get to work immediately on your hardest, most creative task of the day. It doesn’t matter what it is, just so long as it draws upon your most creative self. A lot of great writers wake up and write at 4 AM. 4 AM is nuts to most people, which means they must be on the right path. But there are no distractions at 4. There are no emails, no texts, nothing vitally important, no socials at 4 AM. Nothing has changed much from the previous day at 4 AM. Why not use that “non-time” to be your most creative time, and knock out 2 or 4 hours’ worth of fabulous creative work before most people are even ready for the day? That’s creating amazing value up front, getting after it.
The other key to productivity in creativity is block time. You must block time to get things done, and only those things! The farther out you block it, the better. You know what you need to work on. You know what needs to be done. You have a pretty good idea how long it is all going to take. Block out those hours in your calendar! It’s the only way you’ll start to be dedicated to those time blocks and to get after the most important work there. It’s shocking how few people block out time in their day to work on the most important things. They just keep responding to other peoples’ stuff all day long and then wonder why they’re no closer on their own projects at the end of the day. They didn’t prioritize and execute accordingly. Other peoples’ requests are actually not your top priorities. No. You have your most important 3 things you have to do today, and then you can see what the rest of the world wants from you in your inbox, which is chock-full of other peoples’; agendas.
Our creative day does not start with checking-in. No. Our creative day starts with our creative projects as priorities. Our creative day doesn’t start with emails, text, DMs, etc. Our creative days starts with hammering on work that matters the most, the long-lasting work that will matter in six months, 12 months, two years. What we’re working on here is built to last!
Most creative work today is building some form of long-form content: podcasts; videos; courses; on-demand trainings; go lives; marketing campaigns; sales funnels; lead magnets; books; etc. These are the hard, creative work that content developers and entrepreneurs take on each day as sales, marketing and products. And it is never one and done. It is build, build, build, because there is always something next for your customer to do, to take, to move forward toward their goal. This is why our creative work is never finished. There is always more to be done. More creative work. More creative promotion. We need to be assertive, creative promoters of our work, consistently in front of our audience with value for them. This work /is/ the business, the twin engines of the jet blasting it forward to the destination.
This is one of the reasons why today’s top executives value creativity in their leaders so much. They need to have the strategy and the execution part down, but the missing ingredient has always been creativity to wrap it together. Without the creativity baked in, we’re simply doing what the other guy has always done. We’re copying. We copy naturally, so it is no surprise that we do this. But if we’re looking for more genuine innovation, something closer to originality (if we’re looking for that), we need creativity in leadership and execution. We need new connections. We need new sales funnels and new marketing campaigns. And we need to not be afraid to try them. Top leaders want creativity in their people today. They just have no idea how to instill the skill for their people. The part that they don’t get is that creativity is a bottom-up skill, a practice, not something granted in certification or credential from the top-down. People have to seek it out and do it, practice it. Practice. Practice. practice. Then, you start to develop the muscle. People have to be into it and dedicated to it first like a discipline or else it isn’t going to happen. It is just like going to the gym. Exactly the same. It is a muscle you work every day.
Ideally, your day will look like this: create in the morning; consume in the afternoon. Consumption being meetings, phone calls, admin work, follow-up work you seek to automate or outsource; working on the business aspects. You could even think of your day as two big time blocks, to categories where you can place creative tasks in the morning and business admin in the afternoon. I know people will push back on this. Nobody really likes to have their day toyed with, and most workers insist that they have little control over their day’s tasks. And yet everybody complains about their productivity and not having enough time in the day to get it all done.
I think the value adding professional pushes back and questions what is most important here today? What’s most important to the project? What work will last? What’s the real challenge for us here? What will truly move the business forward? What top three moves? If activities and meetings are not moving us forward, what reason do we have to continue them? A large part of productivity is knowing where to cut out. We cannot be afraid to cut. We cannot be afraid to cut, and to defend our time. Be a time defender! Defend your top priorities! Defend your Creative Time like your professional life depends upon it.
The other thing top performers do that separates them from the rest is they’re always looking to develop several skills and they schedule time to do just that. They know what they’re sharpening. And it is usually something Creative. Could be writing. Could be video editing. Could be creative storytelling. Could be podcasting. But they have it scheduled and they dedicated time each week to do it. Of course, they want to get better. They realize that nobody is going to hand them a curriculum — they have to design it themselves. The classes, the courses, are on us to take. We have to make the time to take them. Carve it out. If you don’t carve it out, nobody is going to do it for you. If you want to take the course, you take the course! If you want to get better through practice, you go and practice! It isn’t that you don’t have time; it is that you won’t make the time to do it. That’s the real tragedy, even for the highly intelligent. It doesn’t have to do with intelligence nearly so much as it has to do with discipline. The discipline to schedule it and execute on it and not blow it off for another meeting. There are A lot of highly intelligent people out there and all they do is go to meetings. Is that what you want your day to look like? A legacy of meeting attending?