Productivity vs. Creativity (and how to integrate them in your work)

September 7th, 2018

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Productivity and creativity. Both are needed to successfully run a business, no matter the size. In larger corporations, these qualities are often designated to different department~ fulfilling specific job descriptions based on individual strengths. However, if you’re self-employed, working at a startup, or simply interested in expanding your company’s process, learning how to integrate these aspects is ideal. The ways in which we approach productivity and creativity are vastly different, yet incredibly complementary. Finding a way to balance these components involves a bit of fine-tuning, but makes a world of difference on both an individual and corporate level in the long run. Read on for insight into both the productive and creative process, as well as tips on how to integrate the two approaches. Productivity Productivity by nature is measurable. While there are varied approaches when it comes to achieving this quality, the ultimate goal is efficiency. How can the greatest amount of work be accomplished in the least amount of time? In order to be productive, you’ll want to be both physically and mentally organized. Figure out systems that work well for you, and give yourself deadlines to achieve specific, measurable goals. Likewise, you’ll want to focus on time management. There are several helpful tips when it comes to being effective with your time. Consider utilizing the following methods:
  1. Pomodoro Technique ~ this technique breaks your projects into smaller blocks of time (typically between 20-25 minutes, with a 5 minute break in between.) This allows you to fully focus on your work for a designated amount of time, with the promise of a mental refresh after you finish. After every hour, take a longer, well-deserved break.
  2. One Touch Rule ~ one of the greatest lags in productivity, is procrastination. When you sit down at your desk, consider using the One Touch Rule. This rule outlines that every time you encounter a task, you complete it immediately (rather than adding to your to-do list). While this may not be relevant for every project, it can easily be applied to most routine tasks ~ like catching up on your morning emails.
  3. Do Not Disturb ~ hit that ‘Do Not Disturb’ button on  your cell phone. It’s an easy, yet effective way to become significantly more productive.
Creativity Although creativity is complementary to productivity in the workplace, it is fundamentally different by nature. You cannot muscle your way through the creative process, or set a timer to help you stay on task. Rather than being an active effort, creativity manifests in a non-linear way. It cannot be produced. Instead, you must construct an environment that allows for inspiration. A few tips on how to curate these conditions:
  1. Give Yourself Space ~ so much of the creative process is fueled by physical surroundings. While the standard office setup may be ideal for most productivity, inspiration comes from openness. Take some time to go for a walk, or read in your favorite cafe during lunch hour. Removing yourself from the direct work environment, even for a moment, can do wonders for your imagination.
  2. Be Curious ~ creativity often comes from a place of sincere interest, empathy, and curiosity. So pay attention to the world around you. Visit museums, chat with people outside your field, listen to music. Giving yourself a broad outlook on life will actually feed your work, rather than detract from it.
  3. Go Easy On Yourself ~ judgement is death to the creative process. And part of this process includes trial and error. Some of your ideas will work brilliantly. Others will completely flop. It’s just the name of the game, so don’t take it personally. Simply learn from your mistakes and improve upon them.
Integrating the Two Since productivity and creativity are necessary to a successful business, you’ll want to craft an environment that allows for both. In this process, you might want to consider the following strategies:
  1. Differentiate Deadlines ~ some projects require the final draft to be completed by 10am on Tuesday morning, and there is simply no getting around that sort of task. But if you have the option to integrate flexible deadlines, this can help provide structure without restricting the creative process.
  2. Design Your Time ~ do some exploring of how you work best, and design a time management plan around your strengths. If you find that you are most productive in the mornings, then consider completing all deadline-based tasks before lunch. That will help you feel accomplished at the beginning of your day, and give you the space to be more creative following your afternoon break. Constructing a specific time management format will actually provide you with greater freedom for imagination in the long run.
  3. Socialize ~ building a cohesive team is essential to both productivity and creativity. It gives employees a sense of responsibility and autonomy in their work, while also curating an environment that allows for imaginative brainstorming. One simple way to strengthen your business is to provide non-work related opportunities for bonding. This will show your team that they are appreciated, as well as give them the opportunity to interact and learn about one another in a different setting.