Productivity and Creativity

It's my birthday on the 8th, so permit me to be a little introspective. I felt a distinct difference between my creativity and productivity, to the point where they're mutually exclusive. Now, this is just for me, your personality may steer in a totally opposite direction. It's a semantic distinction at that, to the point where I wonder if it's peculiar to the English language to have two words for what some cultures might consider the same concept. In any case, you might recognize some of these habits and attitudes in your daily life, too.

Rock Out

My creative state is info-absorbent, constantly synthesizing all inputs into varied combination. It's a fun, exhilarating way to be, which is why I tend to view this as my "normal." My daily access to content just encourages this aimlessness. The convenience is also what makes the state so unproductive. I check refresh my email, twitter feed, RSS reader, forums eagerly waiting for a new morsel that I'll barely savor anyway. I flit from one subject to the next without anything to show for it.

Peace Out

If I want to channel those random ephemeral ideas into something more substantial, I must unplug. I pour a cup of hot green tea, disconnect my ethernet cable and focus on the task at hand. It takes a good ten to twenty minutes for me just to settle into enough a flow that I can get properly productive. Even then, it is a tenuous state, easily broken by a phone call or some house work that needs to be done. Temporal real estate is hard to come by, so my productivity is usually limited to early mornings or when I'm alone in the house.

Of course, I need both states to do anything worthwhile. I can't produce something from nothing, so I need the inspiration of the world around me. Just the same, I need to disconnect for a while so I can pay attention to my work. This is just a little observation of my own work habits lately.

Now if you excuse me, I have to check my email. :P

» Illo: Sivartha CC BY - Jhayne
» Photo: blur CC BY NC ND - Matthew Vandenbossche
» Photo: the " ∞ " creativity CC BY - Nasir Nasrallah


  1. There is a sweet spot that lies between the point of creativity and productivity. That's where my very best work lives.

  2. For sure. I wish I could stay in the middle more often, but I find it's easier for me to be in one state or the other.


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