CREATIVITY & Why Creative People Say No: Because Saying “No” Has More Creative Power

“Creative People Say No” is an extract from Kevin Ashton’s book, “How to Fly a Horse  —  The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery,” available here.

A Hungarian psychology professor once wrote to famous creators asking them to be interviewed for a book he was writing.

One of the most interesting things about his project was how many people said “no.”

Management writer Peter Drucker: “One of the secrets of productivity (in which I believe whereas I do not believe in creativity) is to have a VERY BIG waste paper basket to take care of ALL invitations such as yours — productivity in my experience consists of NOT doing anything that helps the work of other people but to spend all one’s time on the work the Good Lord has fitted one to do, and to do well…”

The professor contacted 275 creative people. A third of them said “no.” Their reason was lack of time. A third said nothing. We can assume their reason for not even saying “no” was also lack of time and possibly lack of a secretary.

Time is the raw material of creation. Wipe away the magic and myth of creating and all that remains is work: the work of becoming expert through study and practice, the work of finding solutions to problems and problems with those solutions, the work of trial and error, the work of thinking and perfecting, the work of creating.

Creating consumes. It is all day, every day. It knows neither weekends nor vacations. It is not when we feel like it. It is habit, compulsion, obsession, vocation. The common thread that links creators is how they spend their time.

No matter what you read, no matter what they claim, nearly all creators spend nearly all their time on the work of creation. There are few overnight successes and many up-all-night successes.

Saying “no” has more creative power than ideas, insights and talent combined. No guards time, the thread from which we weave our creations. The math of time is simple: you have less than you think and need more than you know.

We are not taught to say “no.” We are taught not to say “no.” “No” is rude. “No” is a rebuff, a rebuttal, a minor act of verbal violence. “No” is for drugs and strangers with candy.

Creators do not ask how much time something takes but how much creation it costs. This interview, this letter, this trip to the movies, this dinner with friends, this party, this last day of summer. How much less will I create unless I say “no?”

Read more at … http://www.businessinsider.com/successful-creative-people-say-no-2015-1

WEEKLY SABBATICAL & Productivity Increases When Time Off is Made Predictable—and Required

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: You think we would understand the importance of a regular sabbatical, when even God who would seem to never need it took a day off after creation. Yet in our ministry worlds we sometimes don’t get a reprieve from emails and work related duties. Yet research shows that having “required” and “regular” time off makes a team more productive. Read the research here.

Making Time Off Predictable, And Required

by Leslie A. Perlow and Jessica L. Porter, Harvard Business Review, 10/9/09 (view here: 8.95.)

People in professional services (consultants, investment bankers, accountants, lawyers, IT, and the like) simply expect to make work their top priority. They believe an “always on” ethic is essential if they and their firms are to succeed in the global marketplace. Just look at the numbers: According to a survey we conducted last year, 94% of 1,000 such professionals said they put in 50 or more hours a week, with nearly half that group turning in more than 65 hours a week. That doesn’t include the 20 to 25 hours a week most of them spend monitoring their BlackBerrys while outside the office. These individuals further say they almost always respond within an hour of receiving a message from a colleague or a client.

Yet our research over the past four years in several North American offices of the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) suggests that it is perfectly possible for consultants and other professionals to meet the highest standards of service and still have planned, uninterrupted time off. Indeed, we found that when the assumption that everyone needs to be always available was collectively challenged, not only could individuals take time off, but their work actually benefited. Our experiments with time off resulted in more open dialogue among team members, which is valuable in itself. But the improved communication also sparked new processes that enhanced the teams’ ability to work most efficiently and effectively.

Predictable time off is the name we gave to the designated periods of time that consultants were required to take off…

(Lessons learned, included the following:)

Lesson 1: Impose a strict time-off mechanism

To get hard-driving consultants to agree to take time off during an assignment—not just when there happened to be a break in the work but at predictable times—we had to establish a mechanism that made it clear to everyone how time off must be taken: either a full day or a full night each week for everyone on the team, which was scheduled at the start of each project…

Lesson 2: Build dialogue into the process

In each of our experiments, we used explicit tactics to generate conversation around the time-off goals in particular, and around work processes more generally…

Lesson 3: Encourage experimentation

Beyond creating a safe space for open dialogue, we found it imperative to encourage people to experiment with new work processes. Ways of working that would have previously gone unquestioned were suddenly fair game for reconsideration…

Lesson 4: Insist on leadership support

Individuals won’t willingly engage in these experiments unless they are able to suspend their disbelief. For that to happen, people need to know that there is value in trying; that they will be respected for participating; and that they will bear some responsibility for the success or failure of the experiment…

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2009/10/making-time-off-predictable-and-required

TIME MANAGEMENT & The Research Is Clear: Long Hours Backfire for People and for Companies #HarvardBusinessReview

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Having coached hundreds of churches for 25+ years, I’ve observed a general expectation that everyone works extra hours for the mission. But research consistently shows that overwork undermines the mission! It actually makes you less effective. Read this good article summarizing the research.

Read more at … http://s.hbr.org/1UT7cJR

TIME MANAGEMENT & How to Overcome the Midday Slump

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2015/07/how-to-overcome-the-midday-slump

TIME MANAGEMENT & Use ‘The 10-Minute Rule’ to Revolutionize Your Productivity

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “The 10-minute rule involves setting a 10 minute timer (typically on a smart phone) for any ‘to do’ task you undertake. If you can’t get it done in 10 minutes: it should: 1) either be delegated or 2) be broken down into smaller tasks. Learn how to focus your energy and productivity with his helpful Inc. article on the 10 minute rule.”

Read more at … http://www.inc.com/the-muse/the-10-minute-rule-to-revolutionize-your-productivity.html

TIME MANAGEMENT & Always late (or annoyed by someone who is)? Research shows what’s to blame

by Sumathi Reddy, Wall Street Journal, 2/2/15.

Read more at … http://online.wsj.com/articles/we-know-why-youre-always-late-1422900180

TIME MANAGEMENT & How to Spend the Last 10 Minutes of Your Day #HarvardBusinessReview

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Good time management also means good sleep management, for as this article points out there are manifold negatives to not getting enough sleep. It also points out that almost half of the people you meet tomorrow will be sleep deprived. Learn seven tips to keep sleep deprivation from wrecking everything else you’re trying to accomplish in an eye-opening article based upon solid research.”

by Ron Friedman, Harvard Business Review, 11/10/14

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2014/11/how-to-spend-the-last-10-minutes-of-your-day