If you saw my post yesterday “Starting a New Tiny Newsletter“, I’m starting up a new way to share out my smaller, more “informal” thoughts, articles, and other topics. It’s called “Frog Pond Thoughts” and I’m publishing the 2nd one below. I haven’t decided if I want to cross-post on my blog long term or keep them separate in TinyLetter.com / Twitter. If you have any feedback or suggestions please do share in the comments, email, or on Twitter @BrianTJackett as I’m listening. For now though enjoy this 2nd one as I expect it will be after the USA holiday of Thanksgiving before then next is published.
#2 – Creativity, Times of Day, and Email Productivity Hack
How do I become more creative?
- Do creative things.
- Share with others.
- Repeat #1 and #2 on a regular / scheduled basis.
Yes at first these sounds silly or simplistic but I’ve found them to be true (for me personally at least). What does “do creative things” mean though? It might be drawing in a notebook, writing a blog post, creating a new presentation, building blocks with my kids (see pictures below), playing a musical instrument, learning a new language (computer or spoken), etc. Just as exercising your muscles during a workout needs variety, so do you need variety in the creative things you do. Additionally doing something creative on a regular basis (once a week, once a month, or whatever works for you) ensures that it isn’t a “once and done” type of activity.
“Thanks Brian but what does sharing with others have to do with creativity?” Glad you / I asked. Have you ever had a friend, coworker, or family member who told you about a new TV show / game / restaurant / etc. and your first reaction is “that’s cool, have you heard about…?” By sharing more not only do you become someone that people rely on finding out new things from but they may reciprocate by sharing their own things to you.
Times of Day
Semi-related to creativity, I find that I am more productive with specific categories of tasks at different times of the day. Every day is different with I don’t have anything written down or a routine (perhaps I should) but the following is a rough order for my day:
- Plan out day, create tasks or to-do list, review day’s meetings, send out meeting agendas if needed
- Write up documentation, blog post, or other creative writing
- Deep focus on code, prototyping, etc.
- Read up on blogs / Twitter / LinkedIn from the previous day
- Deep focus on code, prototyping, etc.
- Emails and other communication
Schedules will always be changing depending on meetings, customer questions, etc. but knowing what types of activities I will be most productive at during different times helps me plan out when I should schedule those tasks. If you open your email first thing in the morning, blink, and then it is suddenly 3 hours later then that is a good indication that you should either time box how long you spend on email and / or schedule it for a different time of day.
Email Productivity Hack
Speaking of email, I don’t like to send email after 5pm local time. It’s my own personal guideline. After 5pm is family / me time and if I’m sending emails to peers, customers, etc. it sets the expectation that they should also be reading and responding to emails “after hours”.
Instead of sending emails in the evening, if I have open time after my kids and wife go to bed I’ll draft up a number of emails that I need to write or respond to and then use the “delay delivery” feature of Outlook
(desktop version). I then specify not to deliver those emails until at least 7am the following morning. This way when I open my laptop in the morning, usually around 7:15-7:45am, all of those emails will be sent then. This helps reinforce my personal rule that email is only for during business hours and also clears those emails off my plate to focus on other tasks that I’m more productive at (see above section).
Do you have any productivity hacks that you use?