The Key To Consistent Creativity and Productivity

Charlie Gilkey, a Momentum Coach (he describes it as a mixture of life coaching, productivity coaching, business coaching, and launch coaching) has an awesome
site , titled Productive Flourishing. Awesome. I’m not worthy. Visit him. Here is a blurb from his ‘about’ page:

 This blog is for people who:

  • are interested in being holistic, integrated people.
  • can’t press pause on their life while they learn how to fix it and have to learn to fix their plane while it’s flying.
  • are compassionate, creative, and trying to change the world without selling out.
  • realize they’ve saved a bunch of time but aren’t any better off as a result.
  • are tired of productivity and personal development being about things instead of people

This is from a blog of his written on DECEMBER 8, 2009:

The Key To Consistent Creativity and Productivity

How long can you concentrate and focus on one thing before your energy and attention begins to falter? How long does it take you to engage in a particular thing to make the effort of engagement worth it?

The answers to those two questions make up (what I’m calling) your engagement threshold, and figuring out your engagement threshold is probably the most important thing you can do to become more consistently creative and productive.

What Really Keeps Us From Engaging

Every time you switch tasks, there’s a switching cost. Since this switching cost is intangible, many of us don’t recognize it.

On paper, our schedules are spacious, but it’s more common for switching costs to make it such that we don’t have time to engage in some of the meaningful, bigger projects that we’d like to advance. Despite the fact that the time isn’t there, we beat ourselves up like crazy and are both frustrated and unproductive.

Different Things Have Different Engagement Thresholds

One of the reasons we default to things like email, Twitter, and list-fiddling is because we know we can do something in those contexts. What you might not expect me to say is that this is probably the best way to use that time, assuming that they’re things that need to be done in the first place. It’s far better to plan on doing that stuff during those transitions zones than to plan on doing a lot of creative work – it keeps you consistently productive and allows you to use the energy and resources you have to your best ability.

Engagement Threshold ≠ Flow

It might seem like engagement threshold and Flow are one and the same thing, but they’re not. You can be engaged in something without being in Flow, but you can’t be in Flow without being engaged. In that sense, Flow is a type of engagement.

You can be insanely productive and effective without being in a hypercreative state – in fact, it’s learning to harness the power of the “engaged but not Flow” state where some of the biggest gains in effectiveness can come from. There are two reasons for this: 1) this state is more common, and 2) with some self-discovery, you can figure out how to get yourself in the near-peak state easier than the Flow state.

But wait, there’s more! The near-peak state happens before and after Flow. If you can consistently get yourself into the near-peak state, you’ll experience Flow more frequently. And the more you figure out the best things for you to do while in near-peak, the less dependent you’ll become on all the magic happening during Flow.

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