Do the distractions of Christmas and Omicron hinder creativity?Dec 13, 2021
How do you find your focus and creativity at this time of year? The distractions, whether they be shopping, parties or family visits, can take their toll on your ability to concentrate, especially if you're already trying to produce new content for your business. This can lead to excuses like I don't have time to write now, or It can wait until after the holidays, but if it isn't dealt with quickly, it may snowball into an excuse not to create at all during the holiday season and beyond.
I like the dyslexic view, so let's take the opposite view: distractions fuel the creative fire!
Focus or Distraction
Ideation, Application, Execution is the academic view of the creative process, so let's get real, it means; having an idea, writing it down, and then making the vision a reality. Here's the thing distraction is an excellent aid to creativity. Do Distractions Make You More Creative?
In the Wall Street Journal, Jonah Lehrer recently argues that people who are easily distracted are more creative and productive than those who find it easy to maintain a laser-like focus?
To support his argument, Lehrer cites the findings of several research projects:
People who daydream are better at generating new ideas.
Employees are more productive when allowed to engage in 'internet leisure browsing.
A sample of people who were unable to concentrate due to severe brain damage scored above average on problem-solving tasks.
In a sample of 60 arts and science students, the highest achievers were those who had been diagnosed with ADHD.
In another group of students, those who found it hardest to ignore distracting stimuli were seven times more likely to be rated' eminent creative achievers based on their track record.
So we can only assume that distraction is a good thing. So when that great new idea comes to you as you are being crushed in ASDA, fighting for the last bag of sprouts, surrounded by the great unmasked, make sure you have your notebook to write down the idea.
I have already explored the notion that the best ideas come in the most unexpected moment. So get distracted. However...
When Distractions are bad
Distractions during the creative bit of ideas seem to be a good thing. BUT, when it comes to writing them down to share with others, to apply the rigour of thought, that's when focus becomes key. I've always maintained you can have the best ideas in the world, but if you can't communicate them to others, you will never get very far. So focus is required once you get to the development stage. Once again, if you hit a problem that requires a solution, don't sit and squeeze the problem from the corners of your imagination. No, go for a walk, browse the internet, talk to a friend, play Everdale. Then get back to the focus.
Creatives always have to think, "when is this finished" in their minds. Overthinking is the blight of all creativity, as is a lack of confidence or a Good Boss or Editor to help with the "we are done" (in a good way) conversation.
This is the generally accepted view of distraction. It's a bit like the "but what about your pension" comment as you suggest a sabbatical year travelling the Nullabor in a VW to your Godfather.
"Too often, when we're working on a creative project, we get frustrated or demotivated because things aren't flowing as easily as we want them to. It might feel like there are too many distractions or not enough support; when you try to shut off all that noise, it can be harder than you think. But if you're going to create anything worthwhile, you have to focus. Being strategic about how you spend your time is often more important than being creative with your content ideas."
The truth is sometimes you need to daydream, sometimes you need to finish the presentation today. A "creative" needs to adapt. Don't schedule your distractions. Allow them. Be hard on yourself when you are writing the ideas up. During Execution, there's a whole other set of parameters. A lot of other people. In television, Execution is often institutionalisation. You go into lockdown with the team, and the outside world ceases to exist. This seems like a period of laser-like focus. Apart from the distraction of fun, yes, it will be with colleagues, it will be silly, but boy, it is vital to let off stream to cope. So go to the pub, you will talk about work, but you may learn something or have a moment of realisation.
There is no right or wrong; it is about permission, like all things in life. During the creative period, a guilt-free morning off is regenerative. An hour watching "Wheel of Time" because the new episode dropped. During the Application segment, you will need a mix of daydream and laser focus. And during Execution you will focus on nothing else, every joke every social meal will be about the programme, And that's fine too. Know yourself, understand time, and be aware when a wander in the garden is appropriate and when it isn't. That's creativity.