The Different Seasons of Creativity: Finding and Following Your Patterns

paint brushes

Wherever we live in the world, we’re used to the pattern of the seasons. We know that some months are good for planting new seeds, others are good for picnics in the park, others involve warm soups and thick blankets. The rhythm of each year is the same, but the seasons turn from hot to cold, from wet to dry. We wouldn’t blame the weather for being unsuitable for harvesting when it’s time to sow, or for being no good for wearing our favorite shorts when kids are out building snowmen.

Our creative abilities follow seasons too – but we’re often unable or reluctant to recognize these. How often have you blamed yourself for not being creative or productive at a particular time? How often have you tried to rush on with something, only to quickly stall?

Focusing Your Mind On The Difficult

focus your mind

Competitively, that which is easy gets you very little. If it is easy, anyone can do it, so it is of low value. Tying your shoes in a special way will get you no recognition from anyone except maybe a kindergartener. Doing a couple of simple math problems to review for a placement test won’t help you much. The point of tests and the free market is to separate those that go a bit further.

Doing items at a medium level of difficulty will get you somewhat valuable gains. Running 3 miles to train for a half-marathon will keep you on pace, and will take a good amount of your energy. This will be worth it to you, but it won’t amaze anyone else. While average types of actions don’t necessarily hurt you in any way, sticking at the median level leaves you unable to build up real momentum. Awards, support, and recognition don’t tend to arrive for those who are sticking to doing the average. It isn’t that others don’t want to acknowledge your work, but that someone else’s work shines brighter than yours, moving yours into the invisible category. On the other hand, it is good to keep some of your regular habits in this category.

Planning is Good, Doing is Better


A few months back, during a conversation with one of my mentors, he said something that I will remember for the rest of my life. “All this planning and focusing is good, but doing is better” was the exact phrase that came out of his mouth. It hit me like a ton of bricks. It was one of those “aha” moments we get every so often.

Now the reason he was saying this to me is because I had been working on a semi large project for that past month or so and I was really close to finishing it. However, I had stalled somewhat and found myself in a state of “planning and focusing” rather than “doing”. So, for weeks I was fairly unfruitful in churning out anymore work on this particular project. I was explaining to him where I was in the process and mid conversation is when he let out the phrase I will never forget. I know this may seem simple but it’s very profound. From that day forward my workflow has changed incredibly and productivity has increased tenfold.

How Getting Used To Silence Can Help Your Productivity

alone on the lake

Sitting alone in a quiet place can be a difficult experience. Without distractions, we can feel bombarded by unpleasant thoughts and emotions. All the ways we’re unhappy about ourselves and our lives come raging back into our awareness when there’s space for them to come up.

It’s no surprise, then, that our culture is hostile to silence. Everywhere we go, it seems, we’re confronted with some kind of noise—whether it’s background music in stores and restaurants, cars and airplanes going by, or something else. And when we’re alone, we often find ourselves habitually switching on the TV or radio to fill the emptiness.

How to Stop Procrastinating & Start Writing That Book Inside You

writing a book

Whenever I tell a new person I’ve met that I’ve recently had a memoir published, the response is, invariably, “You wouldn’t believe my story. I should write a book, too.” And my response to them is, invariably, “Then, why don’t you?”

The gap between having the desire to write a book and actually sitting down to write one is quite large, but with some effort, it can be bridged.

3 Keys To Developing Inner Productivity

inner productivity

Looking at the number of books and articles on organization and time management available today, one would think the market for productivity strategies was close to saturation, and the demand for more would be dropping. But this doesn’t seem to be true. Instead, it seems like a new book, article, or seminar on productivity comes out every day.

Why are people still hungry for productivity advice, even with so many techniques on the market? I suspect one reason is that the existing literature doesn’t address one of the biggest obstacles to our productivity — the patterns of thinking and feeling that limit our ability to get things done.

Here’s a common example. As I’ll bet you know firsthand, it’s hard to get much done when our awareness keeps drifting into the past or the possible future — replaying arguments we had with a loved one, worrying about how much the bonus in our jobs is going to be this year, and so on. The “tips and tricks” productivity gurus offer us — more efficient ways to organize our e-mail inboxes, make to-do lists, hold shorter meetings, and so forth — can be useful, but they won’t do much to help us get more done if we can’t focus our attention.

3 Ways to Identify and Master the Bug of Creative Procrastination

creative procrastination

Procrastination is the bad habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday – Napoleon Hill (1883-1970) American speaker and motivational writer.

Procrastination is a term that needs no introduction. I’ve lived much of my life battling this bug, and I have come to believe that it grows from a fear of action.

Creative procrastination is a trick our mind plays to defer things we should do now until the future with an abstract goal to banish our desire.

Gradual Organization: How to Go from Slob to Productive

I’ll admit it: I used to be a slob. Several years ago, I would have been lucky just getting my clothes in the right drawers. To-do lists, calendars and detailed systems for managing my energy and time would have seemed like a fantasy. Instead I had nothing written down or sorted, relying on memory to keep track of important dates and tasks.

Looking at the way I run my life now, it would be hard to recognize my prior messiness. I went from slob to productive, simplifying my life by…

17 Tips for Being Organized, Staying Sane, and Getting Things Done

being organized

If you read last week’s post Well… I Have A New Job, you will be aware that I am now also working as an editor for the popular self improvement blog Pick The Brain. I was very excited when I was offered this job a month ago, but I also realized that I would need to be on my best game if I were to perform well not only in this new role, but also in all the other roles I have in my life.

In the past being organized has not been a strength of mine. I was that person in university who would hand an essay in that I had had months to work on with only minutes to spare (and this was only after several frantic coffee-filled days of last minute research and writing). Anyway I have changed a lot since then, so as promised last week I will let you into my life and show you how I have prepared myself for this new commitment. I hope, of course, that you may pick up a couple of tips and tricks that may be of benefit.

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