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August 16, 2011

Producing Something

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“Creativity is essentially a lonely art. An even lonelier struggle. To some a blessing. To others a curse. It is in reality the ability to reach inside yourself and drag forth from your very soul an idea.” ~Lou Dorfsman

Recently, I became the proud owner of an iPad. I absolutely love it for a few reasons, but I made a few deals with myself when I got it. Over the last while, more than ever, I have become acutely aware at the rate at which we, as a society, are consuming media. When you turn your eye, media is there, waiting for you to consume it. Twitter, Facebook, Google Reader, Email, Skype, News, TV, Magazines, Newspapers… the options are endless, but the actual use to you very limited. When last did you read something on Twitter that really changed your world? When last did consumption of some sort of media make you change something important?

A quirky video to show you what I am talking about:

So here was my list:

1. Use applications like Flipboard to aggregate awesome content that inspires me. I stopped using Google Reader, Newsletters, etc and now use Flipboard as a 10min break over a cup of coffee to catch up on news.

2. Remove Facebook off my phone and not use it on the PC any longer. I now purely use it, more or less once a week, on the iPad.

3. Move magazines and books to digital, saving paper and being able to travel with hundreds of my favorite books in my hand.

4. Limit Angry Birds usage.

5. Install 5 applications which allow me to create something, now matter how random.

For many of us, there is a one way flow of creativity in our days, and that’s consuming other people’s creativity, thereby creating nothing ourselves. As simple as writing a blog post (like this one), to drawing a bird, painting a circle and all the way to producing a feature film, creating something is vital to your happiness. As humans, we have to create. We need to be creative and make something. It’s an essential part of our joy. You`ll need to learn to master this habit in order to find the space to produce something. It starts with a bit of “me time”. If you don’t believe me – look at the success of applications like Instagram, Flipboard, Keynote, etc.

Think about why artisans are happy. Why people take reduced salaries to create something they are passionate about? Think about it.

For me, the single greatest thing I realised this year relates to this story:

Imprisoned in the ancient Greek underworld as punishment for his earthly crimes, Sisyphus was famously tortured by a never-ending task. He was condemned to roll a huge rock up a hill – only to watch it roll back down and have to start all over again.

The ‘Sisyphus effect’ is the result of endless to-do lists, which in turn are created by a constant stream of incoming demands. We start the day full of enthusiasm, but by the end of it, we’ve taken on so many new commitments that the to-do list is longer than when we started.

How many of you are nodding in appreciation right now?

How many of you know that you are filling your day with things to keep you busy that are not necessary? Being “busy” is an illness. You`ll find anything to do to stay busy, arrive at the end of the day telling your loved one that “your day was SO SO busy” and that you had no time for anything, not even time for yourself. High five yourself in the face.

Faced with the twin problems of unpredictable interruptions (some quite literally being that you interrupt your own productivity to check if anyone has mentioned you on Twitter or check status updates on Facebook) and the Sisyphus effect of never-ending tasks, you need to give yourself room to breathe, keep a clear head and stay focused on what you want to achieve. In short, you need to install a buffer between others’ demands and your response. Otherwise you’ll end up in permanently anxious and unproductive ‘reaction mode’.

When you`re working, work. Leave the rest behind. Set schedules for checking Social Media twice a day, once at lunch and once as you`re leaving the office. Check email at 10am and 4pm. Do whatever it takes to get the work done. Don’t compromise on this. Producing something, even if its work, is important. Then, make time for yourself so that you can produce something that inspires you and perhaps, that you have no talent for, but screw it, produce it anyway. Do it for yourself.

On that note, let’s close with a mega talented kid, producing insane tricks and displaying incredible maneuverability on a bicycle. It’s the new Danny Macaskill

Have a great day. Draw a pony, make a paper plane or cook your wife something incredible. Just produce something…

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