February 16, 2022

Fit the tool with the temperament


Are you not feeling particularly prolific today? Or this month? Maybe this entire year?

Don’t be so hard on yourself. It happens to everyone.

And the good news is, there is no creative problem so big that you can’t troubleshoot it with a little intention, attention, and of course, the right tools.

Let’s say you’ve been trying to record a thirty second video for the last fifty minutes.

That seems frustrating as hell. You’d think after ten takes the clip would all fall into place, right?

Perhaps you have issues with perfectionism. That’s okay. Millions of creators each day reject reality because it’s not good enough for them.

One recommendation is learning to practice what’s called selective indifference. This personal creativity management tool falls under the taxonomy of approaches, and the subcategory of boundaries. It’s when you train yourself to become discerning enough not to dwell on meaningless matters so you can conserve your best energies for other creative efforts.

Take the video you’re recording. If it’s part of a series, then you likely plan to execute that kind of work dozens or even hundreds of times over the course of your career. In which case, whatever minor production imperfections you’re worried about today will be irrelevant tomorrow, forgotten in a few weeks and not even noticed in a few months.

See what happens if you let it go, press the publish button and move onto the next task.

Here is another case study. Say you’ve been trying to compose a song and have switched topics five times until finally giving in.

Been there before myself. Sometimes focus feels impossible. But maybe that means you have an issue with simplicity.

Because understandably, complexity is attractive because it feels like progress. What’s not to like? However, if you want to make your creative process more spacious and give yourself more room to operate, then you need to introduce constraints. Sounds counterintuitive, but stay with me.

There is a tool that also falls under the taxonomy of approaches called short circuiting. This is a way of doing things before the fear has time to reach your mind. Instead of paralyzing yourself with option anxiety about which topic you should pick for your work, give yourself thirty seconds to pick. Or shut your eyes and point your finger at something. Or have a coworker select the topic for you.

Does not matter. The goal of short circuiting is to create a forcing function to overcome bottlenecks.

If you’re someone who is afraid of messing and getting discouraged from taking action, this tool is a liberator.

Still not feeling particularly prolific today?

Fear not. There are over three hundred more tools just like these. Take the time to find the right ones that fit your temperament, including personality, work style, values, schedule and goals.

Soon you’ll be unstoppable.

How well do you troubleshoot your own issue with the creative process?