My latest theme, creativity vs. efficiency, has led me to consider how a creative person goes about becoming efficient in his or her work. Creative work is well known for having elastic timings; “how long is a piece of string?” would greet me often when asking a creative about time needed to solve a creative problem. But what if you want to ensure you or your creatives are not so much sticking to pre-determined deadlines but more importantly using their time to the best of their ability, not shirking, flunking, avoiding or procrastinating?
Flow. A popular word used in this topic. Coined most prevalently by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Happy Birthday by-the-way Mr. Csikszentmihalyi). It’s a word used to describe a heightened mental state that we achieve when creativity is going really well, we forget ourselves, we have clear goals, we do not self-doubt and importantly we get things done. Sounds brilliant. It brings us real happiness – which is really the focus of Csikszentmihalyi’s studies. But how do you achieve this at work? Csikszentmihalyi suggests aiming for a balance between challenge and skill: What challenges you? What are you good at?
In reality, the feedback I’m getting from creative friends and colleagues is that this is merely an observation of work, not something that can be manufactured. If you find a project that you have the skills for and that poses challenges then great, but even this doesn’t automatically mean you will achieve a sense of flow. Don’t try and replicate it if it does happen to you, just enjoy it while it does!
Well, ok, there are some methods for achieving flow in your life, but they are sometimes a bit too much effort…