If you want to remain productive, and you want to have ideas when you need them most, then the kinds of stimuli you allow into your mind are important. Because creativity is essentially the combining of existing pieces of inspiration in your environment into something new, the quality and relevance of inputs will often directly affect your creative output, thus either propelling you forward or impeding your progress.
Many of us lack the kind of latitude over our schedule that we’d like to have, but all of us have some discretion about how we spend our time. The best way to prevent distractions and make steady progress on your most important work is to dedicate predictable time to it.
There's no delicate way to say this: many of us carry weapons. Not literal weapons (most likely), but figurative ones, and we get trigger happy the moment we experience something we don't like.
Run YOUR race. Execute YOUR plan. Do YOUR work, not someone else's. Don't allow envy, spite, ego, or greed to derail you or cause you to chase a phantom ideal that was never meant for you.
Anything of value that you wish to create will require a significant investment of time. Brilliant work is expensive.
Don’t be lulled into the idea that being busy and making progress is necessarily going to net you a win. You have to be intentional and deliberate about your activity, and you have to be willing to sprint when the occasion calls for it.
The work you do is a gift to the world, but that doesn't mean it's for everyone.
Simply changing your circumstances or your productivity system might inject a measure of energy into your work and give you a boost for a short while, but that increase in output will be short-lived if you aren’t committed to an outcome.
You have 168 hours each week. Some of those hours you will probably spend doing things you have to do, some of them doing things you choose to do, and some of them doing things simply on autopilot.
Yes…we need coaches. However, don’t be “The Coach”. Instead, offer feedback that is timely, contextualized, empathetic, and helpful in the context of the outcome you’re committed to.
As you consider the gift that you have to offer - the expression that is uniquely yours, and yours alone to give away - consider this: the impact of a gift given away in freedom is vast, while a gift spent on the giver quickly fades.
Are you acting, or waiting? Steve Jobs once said "Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you'll never be the same again."
What is the first thing you do in the morning? The last thing you do at night? Your first action when taking on a new project? Your impulse when receiving good (or bad) news?
If you asked those questions to many highly productive creatives, they’ll have immediate answers. Not because they are micro-obsessive about their schedules, but because over time they’ve developed predictable rituals around key areas of their life and work.
Here are three career investments that I think every single creative should be making now, and should continue to make consistently. These are the three aspirations that you should be chasing in order to ensure that you won’t be left behind.
Any time you are attempting to learn a new skill, or experiment with a new means of doing your work, you will inevitably go through a season in which you risk coming across as incapable of performing well.
Feeling a bit stressed? Manage your energy and bring more of your best effort every day by establishing buffers between important meetings and tasks.
For creative pros - those charged with turning our thoughts into value every day - the promise of a quick path to successful work is alluring. If there were proven ways to avoid the uncertainty and pain of the process, they would be worth their weight in gold. Unfortunately, they don't exist. Not really, anyway.
In my brand new book Die Empty, I examine the common places where bright, sharp, talented people eventually get stuck in their life and career. The goal, of course, is to get your best work out of you every day and to not leave it inside or take it to your grave with you like so many people do.
Brilliant work is no accident. It’s forged daily by those willing to engage their work with urgency and diligence, and to empty themselves of whatever is burning within them.
You cannot pursue great work and comfort simultaneously. While you may experience comfort in the course of your work, or as a by-product of your work, great work and comfort are mutually exclusive objectives. Brilliant bodies of work are built as people choose over time to do the right thing, even when it's the uncomfortable thing.
We each have danger zones we have to watch out for in the course of our work. They can be particular habits or patterns we fall into when we go into "coast mode" or areas or situations where we are likely to get irritated and short-circuit collaborative relationships.