Does rigid timelines help creativity?

Timeline rules us.

Deadlines, projects schedules, invoices and regular business days all revolve around timeline. We remind ourselves through calendar, blackberry applications, and sticky notes.

But does chasing time help us? Help our work, help creativity? Let’s walk through some scenarios:

Regular Office- The pressure of timeline doesn't enhance creativity in most cases and leads us to “The Intrinsic Motivation Principle of Creativity. People will be most creative when they feel motivated primarily by the interest, enjoyment, satisfaction, and challenge of the work itself, and not by external pressures or inducements.” So, for those who like creativity and challenge in their work should sought out similar assignments. Look for more encouragement from your boss and find a mentor who knows how to match creativity with the end of the month salary scenario.

Bloggers/Entrepreneurs – It is said that time management skills contribute to creativity . It seems very true since most of the successful bloggers are multi tasking all the time. Look carefully at the project management bloggers- they know thing or two about maintaining schedules and some of them use it to their best. They blog, they run their own thing, work 9-5 job, write books, papers, participate in numerous profession related websites, network, are active participants of their community and perhaps even doting parents. They run their lives as they run their project. They plan, they schedule, they prioritize and get the work done. And to top it all they are creative – it takes some to manage time so effectively if nothing else.

Also, the most frequently mentioned contextual factor characterizing high-creativity events was freedom. Think about entrepreneurs, individuals who are self employed, people whose writings you bookmark and read everyday- think Seth Godin, think Chris Brogan, think Pamela Slim, think Tim Ferris, think Scott Berkun…..when the pressures off performance and delivery; people might come up with real creativity.

But can everyone be creative? Do you want to be creative? Anyone with the inclination to be one perhaps can find a way to be creative to an certain extent and how life changing it is
But then, there are people like J K Rowling who were creative under tremendous pressure initially and some more here.

Here’s an interesting aspect of creativity- giving time to think might just be the answer you are looking for.

Edison spent a good deal of time just thinking. He fished off the end of his dock for an hour almost everyday of his life. He always fished by himself but he never caught any fish. Observers always thought it was strange that Edison would spend so much time fishing when he really wasn't that good at it.

Late in life, he was asked about his obsession with fishing even though he was probably the worst angler anyone had ever seen. His answer was, “I really never caught any fish because I have never used any bait.” Most people were shocked and thought he was crazy so they asked, “Why in the world would you fish without bait?”

His answer? “Because when you fish without bait, people don’t bother you and neither do the fish. It provides me my best time to think.” (Source)

Science of Creativity- Tim Ferris has written about his own creativity and I find it quite interesting.

I think creativity is as complicated as it seems. Here’s another of my favorites from Elizabeth Gilbert who practices creativity.

I like being creative and for most part want to be considered as one, so if wrote poetry when I was 21; now I try to bring creativity in my work I do- in my blog, my website, food or simply my everyday life.

Want to have fun and learn more from real life Project Managers, check out


TyauvinOn said...

Liked you post very much. It is interesting how the technology is a double edged sword; as you point out the blogging and web site content are great examples; but I recently heard a case where an graphics artist was bemoaning the lack of thinking time now available because of the ability to almost instantly send material and receive a reply.
So we all need that "fishing time" - for me it is getting out on my bike, when I can have the time to think and get a workout.


ClaudiaV said...

Your post points out key reasons we all could use a little more breathing room for creativity, continual motivation (internal or external) and a good set of project management tips.

Thanks for the post!