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11 Rules That Creative People Live By

11 Rules That Creative People Live By

Creativity sometimes gets a bad rap in school when teachers are trying to push students toward the STEM fields. Truth is, we need creativity too! It’s the driving force behind innovation, and it can add interest to drab and dry situations. Creative people are a key part of society, and they contribute much-needed perspective to our culture. It doesn’t always come easily, however. Even creative people aren’t constantly creating. Here are 11 rules they live by to keep the creativity coming, even through setbacks.

1. Things don’t always have to go your way

Sometimes, things don’t go according to plan—and that’s okay! Creative people know that the best ideas sometimes emerge when plans fall apart. Artists sometimes find that their best work is born from “mistakes,” and writers who let their characters lead the way often reach amazing breakthroughs. Take risks and fail sometimes, but find a way to create out of those failures.

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2. Listen constantly

How many people ride through life listening to nothing but the music in their headphones? Sure, music can be inspiring, but listening to the world around you is another way creative people fuel their ideas. That one person on the bus not on their phone? They’re probably observing the world around them: people-watching, listening, and gathering information for their next big project.

3. Is it aesthetically pleasing?

Style and power work best together, as Steve Jobs knew when building the Apple brand. The constant question was: is it aesthetically pleasing? This principle guided him through many innovations, resulting in one of the most popular brands in the world. Today, Apple products are praised for their combination of great hardware and attractive design. Beauty may be dismissed by “serious” thinkers, but it’s a key part of what makes us human, and creative people know that it’s important to our identity.

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4. Don’t forget the arts

The most successful people know the importance of the arts. Product design, understanding markets, and other aspects of business all rely heavily on the talent of creative people. Entrepreneurs know the importance of art in business, and the most successful are exposed to art at an early age. In fact, studies have shown that STEM graduates who file for patents or open their own businesses are 8 times more likely to be exposed to art as children than other graduates.

5. Daydream often

Considered a waste of time to many educators and parents, daydreaming is actually an essential creative process that many creative people use to their advantage. Inspiration strikes when you’re not expecting it, and daydreamers often get their best ideas when they let their minds wander and play without guidance.

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6. Carve out some alone time

Though not true of all creative minds, it is very common for creative people to be introverts, and to enjoy solitude. Carving out some alone time in their busy schedules helps creativity blossom, since it allows for time to think without distractions or interruptions.

7. Create time for experimentation and focus

Alone time is what allows most creative people to “recharge,” but it’s equally important for them to carve out time specifically for experimentation and focused work. Inspiration may strike at the most surprising times, but to build on those creative ideas takes time and hard work, which creative people prioritize by making time to experiment.

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8. Remember the importance of humor

Humor is how many creative people express themselves, and for good reason: it’s a way of looking at something from an unexpected perspective, something that creative people are very good at.

9. Say yes

Creativity does not come from doing the same thing over and over again every day. Creative people make it a point to say yes to new experiences and opportunities. Whether it’s a trip around the world, or a project in a new medium, creative people take chances and try new things in order to find inspiration and new information

10. Honor your own schedule

Very few people work best on the typical 9-5 schedule, and creative people know that it’s best not to try to force creativity. Instead, they honor their own internal tendencies, and work when they’re at their most productive and creative. For some, that’s the middle of the night. For others, it’s right after they’ve woken up and made a pot of tea.

11. It can be done

Above all, creative people believe in the impossible. They believe that anything can be done if they just come up with the right pieces. They’re curious, motivated, and persistent enough to solve complex problems and prove to the world that yes, it can be done, no matter what “it” may be.

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Last Updated on October 20, 2020

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future. Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

Bonus: Think Like a Rhino

More Tips for Procrastinators to Start Taking Action

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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