Why having too much time can actually stifle creativity

I have so much work that needs to get done right now.

  • I am revamping my website, so I am working around the clock trying to come up with the best copy that represents me and speaks to my clients.
  • I am working on an app with my husband that requires me to write questions.
  • I am trying to get my blog off the ground again and begin sharing it with people. (If you are reading this, it means I actually did this one!)
  • I need to write new proposals for clients.
  • We have another round of Platinum Exchange starting up, so I need to work on the material and meet with my new clients.

The list goes on and on.  But the problem is, I am not a list person.  I am very much against making lists.  My mom loves it.  Whenever I get overwhelmed she starts saying, “Write it down.  Get it out of your head.”    I know, I know.  But it’s just so hard for me to do.  The trouble is, by keeping all of this in my head it makes it really difficult for me to make any forward progress.

But on Monday, I came across a different way of thinking about this whole dilemma.  I was in a coaching circle and we were discussing the topic, “How to do the things you know you should do but aren’t very good at?”  And one of the coaches recommended an article that helped him called “Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule. “

As soon as I read this article, it hit home.  But I had to read it three times before I really pulled something out of it that I could put into practice.

Interpretation after 1st Reading: This is interesting and it makes a lot of sense.  I guess that’s why I feel like when I have a bunch of reactionary work (responding to urgent emails, putting out fires, trekking around with the kids) in a day I don’t feel fulfilled because I wasn’t able to get any big picture (reaching out to potential clients, business strategy, self care) work accomplished which is what I really want, and need to be doing.

Interpretation after 2nd Reading: Perhaps I should create more “maker” time in my schedule so that I can do that big picture thinking.  But in the past, this really hasn’t worked for me.  If I have too much time on my hands, I feel paralyzed and do nothing.  I wander aimlessly through my day and still don’t feel fulfilled.  Or even worse, I spend the entire day doing laundry.

Interpretation after 3rd Reading: What if instead of creating more time for the Maker’s schedule, I embraced the Manager’s schedule a little more.  And that’s when the “aha” happened.  Yes!  That is exactly what I need and am already starting to do.

I have long since known that I worked really well under pressure and deadlines.  Taking action fuels me.  When I have more to do, I am actually more productive.  So why not start scheduling my time for creativity?  At first this felt like opposites, but I realized it’s actually not opposite at all and completely corresponds with Paul Graham’s manager’s theory.

And I also know how having too much time on my hands can actually create paralysis in me.  When I left my full-time job to pursue my own coaching business five years ago, I spent the first year doing a whole lot of nothing.  I had no real focus.  I would wake up each morning with nothing in my calendar and then proceed to do absolutely nothing.  I mean it wasn’t because of lack of trying.  I just couldn’t focus myself.  Plus, I had no idea really where to start.

It took me an entire year to get out of this stuck place and start actually doing the work.  It was not a fun time in my life and I don’t plan on recreating it.

So for my self-coaching experiment this week, I have started to block out time in my calendar and create real (if they are fake I can feel it and don’t actually take action) deadlines for myself.  Some examples are:

  • Scheduling writing sprints in my calendar.
  • Scheduling my design week with my web designer and working backwards from there. I also created accountability by promising my husband that I would not wait until the last minute to finish my copy (this time).
  • Signing up for a Masterclass to do the work that needs to be done to get more clients and write those proposals.
  • Brainstorming with friends and colleagues when I come up with new copy to see what actually resonates, with both them and me.
  • Not worrying about what is not getting done for my business while I am spending time with my kids. Having it locked in the schedule gives me freedom to know that the work will actually get done the next day.

I am really curious if having too much time on your hands actually stifles your creativity too and what you have done to counteract this idea?  Please let me know what you think in the comments.

All the best,

Stacy

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About Your Host

Hi! I'm Stacy Mayer, a Certified Executive Coach and Promotion Strategist on a mission to bring more diversity to the leadership table by getting 1000 underrepresented corporate managers promoted into senior executive positions each year worldwide.

I help undervalued executives scale to the C-Suite using repositioning strategies that build your confidence and visibility, so you can earn the recognition and support you need from key stakeholders while embodying your unique leadership style.

My podcast “Maximize Your Career with Stacy Mayer” tackles topics like executive communication, getting more respect in the workplace from challenging bosses and team members, and avoiding the common mistakes that sabotage career advancement.

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