TAKING TIME TO CULTIVATE CREATIVITY
Blog Post, Posted on July 16, 2013
I’ve been thinking a lot about time lately... Definitely spurred on by my recent trip to Europe. My friend and I (who had also just come back from a European vacation) were going through Europe-withdrawal together. As we were reminiscing about our amazing experience over dinner several weeks ago, we shared this same simple, but awesome observation — the Europeans know how to slow down and enjoy life. To essentially live in the moment, and not be rushed or hurried for time. This caused us to reflect on our own life and how we view time here back at home.
This is obviously a gross over-simplification and yes, stereotype of Europeans (and by default, Americans). It’s not meant to be. But there is a very real cultural and societal difference in how we Americans view time. It seems like we're always running out of it and can never have enough — perpetually striving for more productivity and efficiency. Constantly asking, how can we fit in more and do more? We value it so much that in some ways, we've become very greedy with our time, professionally and personally.
The consequence of this is that while the value of time is increasing (i.e., time = money, efficiency, productivity, etc.), the value of creativity and thoughtfulness that are cultivated with time seems to be rapidly decreasing.
The time required to develop meaningful relationships and dialogue with people, the thoughtfulness and creative thinking in our work, the attention we give to one single task at hand without being pulled (or choosing to be pulled) into a million other tasks. I can go on and on.
In that way, I think we’re missing out on something valuable that the Europeans seem to have gotten right. By focusing so much on maximizing productivity, we risk leaving behind or devaluing the intangible fruit that is hard to measure, but is foundational to our growth, development and yes, success.
Ironically, I was inspired by this Fast Company article that provides a different perspective on what being stingy with your time means, but leads to the same conclusion — you need time to cultivate creativity (and ultimately anything else that is meaningful and worthwhile). Of course, there is balance to everything, as this should not be a manifesto of sorts to excuse laziness... please.
Simply put, if we rush through life (or in more tangible terms, the process), we have to be willing to ask, what are we giving up? What are we missing out on? What brilliant idea or connection did we miss cultivating because we didn't take the time?
Life is all about compromises of course, but as designers, the responsibility is on us to fiercely (but politely) protect and defend this grand pursuit.