Some of my friends (not many, but there are a few) who know how I use the web will tell you I’ve always got some kind of neat Firefox add-on or a little Mac app that can help getting over problems of productivity, self-management or creativity.
But my addiction to this sort of thing goes further. I actually spend a lot of time procrastinating by reading through self-help articles relating to such things as productivity or procrastination. Obviously this habit has become a bit excessive, since I usually end up spending more time finding new ways to work more efficiently than actually doing any work.
…My point being, I’ve become reasonably slightly knowledgeable on these topics of psychology. All that means is, I’ve read quite a few great articles around the web. And I’d like to share a few of these with you, since, although the conversation is generally more one-sided, I believe you’re all human beings (and most likely creative ones) and must often run into problems of productivity, creativity, self-management and self-improvement. Am I wrong?
Well, if this is where you’re having trouble, I’d advise figuring out which type of creative block you’ve got.
Concerning what to do about it however, most creative blocks revolve around an issue with your inner critic – you know, all those negative thoughts telling you it’s not worth it or you can’t do it? well in most cases those thoughts can be envisioned as coming from your inner critic. But don’t be fooled, the inner critic doesn’t manifest itself as obviously as one might think. As Denise Jacobs over at A List Apart explains (she likes to call an inner critic a troll):
“The resourceful and clever troll employs many tools to complete its task, ranging from the subtle (distractions and boredom), to the complexities of perfectionism, to diminished confidence and a paralyzing fear of failure.”
And once you’ve dwelt with that biggie, how do you get back to work? I’d suggest this great read on how to reignite your creative spark by the same author.
If that’s not enough expert advice, listen to Brian Eno, he’s got a fair amount of street cred. And maybe even download his cool idea-generating app– Oblique Strategies
I have three regular social networking service profiles [Facebook ~ Google+ ~ Twitter], one very comprehensive RSS-reader [Feedly], a few other profiles I’m slowly building up [Diaspora and Linkedin] and countless other accounts on services such as Tumblr, Pinterest..etc. And finally a couple email addresses; one personal and one for the blog.
Gosh, it almost looks like I’m bragging about this neat chain of distractions I’ve wrapped around myself. But the truth is, I do completely embrace the social web, and I have a hard time resisting the urge to open a new account on every new service bringing something enticing to the table.
So instead of shutting myself off from these ‘distractions’ that constantly nag me for attention while I’m trying to produce some kind of work, I read on how to improve my self-management.
First one must understand the science behind procrastination, and how it is a basic human impulse. Everyone procrastinates, it’s not just college students putting off essay deadlines– but also politicians, generals, economists; people who’s actions (or lack of) have real consequences.
That’s if you care about knowing what it’s all about– obviously there are lots of cool tips and tricks on overcoming procrastination.
But it all boils down to self-discipline and self-control or in other words self-management. And again, one must consider that science is revealing more and more on how our self-control may be a muscle that gets tired like any other muscle if used too intensely. I think it’s fair to say that makes sense to most of us– our willpower and the strength to resist an urge is limited.
That’s why re-gaining your self-control or self-discipline when you’re down isn’t a one-step process. You can’t just decide to go back to the gym, spend less money, stop watching tv crap and focus from 9 to 5 everyday from now on. Take little steps one way, and it will affect all other parts of your life with time.
When it comes to online self-control, I like to use the app appropriately named SelfControl.
What’s your take on avoiding / overcoming a creative block or a bad case of procrastination?
p.s: have a great weekend guys!