Productivity and creativity are often said to be opposed and at battle with one another; in order to be productive you have to sacrifice creativity, and if you wish to be creative, you must forgo being productive.
Creativity focuses on the quality of work and the development of new ideas – giving little thought to time. Productivity on the other hand, is about putting the wheels in motion – it focuses on getting things done and reaching goals in the most effective way, in the least amount of time.
But does a trade-off between the two have to exist, or can productivity and creativity be balanced so they’re not fundamentally at odds with one another? After all, if we’re to be successful we need to be both productive and creative.
You may be creative and have amazing new ideas, but without productivity, those ideas are simply that – ideas. Similarly, if you’re productive in your work but don’t have any creativity in your process, you become stuck in a routine and are likely to miss out on new opportunities.
As you can see, both productivity and creativity are important, and although the possibility of combining them is questionable, we’ve got 3 steps which will allow you to synchronise them; so each can do what it does best when appropriate.
1. Separate your tasks
In any project you’re likely to have a mixture of both creative and productive tasks. The key is to break down your project and identify whether productivity or creativity is best suited for each one. It’s important to do this because even though a project might be creative – for example, designing a new website – it doesn’t necessarily mean that every task within that project will be creative too. Tasks such as brainstorming ideas and designing the layout are creative, but actions such as proofing and publishing web pages are more about being productive.
2. Schedule creative time
Once you’ve identified the tasks that primarily require creativity, allocate yourself time and space to undertake some creative thinking. Whether it’s 20 minutes or several hours, it’s important to schedule time in your day which can be spent away from your usual activities, so you can brainstorm new ideas and gain fresh perspectives.
3. Establish a workflow
For the productive tasks, a workflow of activity should be set up to optimize efficiency and to limit work in progress. By mapping out each stage of your project cycle, you can easily monitor work as it passes through the cycle, and quickly address any bottlenecks; ensuring tasks flow through each step of the process smoothly – which is essential for a fast and consistent delivery of work.
How do you balance creativity and productivity while you work? Share your top tips with us in the comments below.
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