7. Energy (Creative Qualities)

January 21, 2020

Have you ever wished that there were two of you?

When I co-founded my business, almost every week I wished I had a clone. There was so much I wanted to do and not enough hours in the day!

I finally got to a point when I realised, what if I just focused on being the best version of myself? From that moment, I’ve been trying to figure out how I naturally work at my best and what allows my creative energy to flow.

“Don’t fight the way nature made you.” – Tony Scott (Film Director)

Have a go at creating a list of things that help you work and see what you come up with …

Q. How much downtime do you need?

Q. How much sleep?

Q. What kind of music?

Q. What kind of films?

Q. What do you need on your desk?

Q. Who do you need around you?

Q. How much time present and away from social media?

Let’s kick things off with the ‘How much sleep?’ question. I consider myself to be a bit of a night owl. However, researchers say only 10% of the population do their best work at night yet over 30% of us are self-confessed “night owls”. Truthfully, I don’t perform well the next morning if I stay up really late.

Technology has made our creative processes so much faster and efficient. It’s tempting to think we need to keep pace. Instead, try taking a break. Learn what you need to avoid and don’t push yourself too hard for too long because otherwise you will burn out.

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Neuroscientists say, multitasking is a rapid way to deplete brain energy. It’s actually just task switching. Every time you switch your attention, your brain has to engage, disengage and reengage somewhere else. Studies show that a person who is interrupted takes 50% longer to complete a task and also makes 50% more errors in the process.

The reason I love my job is because I get to be part of the whole process; meeting clients, project development, filming, editing and delivery. The truth is, I can’t do all of these things well in a single day. I am at my best when I work uninterrupted for a designated period of time. Brain research shows that 25 minutes is approx the amount of time to get on a roll.

The challenge is when somebody interrupts that workflow and needs you to help with another task. What do you do?

I guess it’s easier to break off and help others once you’ve finished a short task. I try and group my short tasks together (like emails, calls, meetings) and make time between tasks to support others. However, I also dedicate time to long tasks (like filming and editing), and that sometimes means saying I am unavailable.

I am guilty of over-working and it’s easy to camouflage it by saying I have a strong work ethic. The truth is I struggle to shut off sometimes. I enjoy my work and I can get too wrapped up in it.

The “I will sleep when I’m dead,” mentality is a problem for a lot of people. There is a lot of advice shared on this subject and most of it revolves around eating well, exercising, breaking off from work several hours before bedtime and getting a good night’s rest.

I recently met with a mentor and friend who tapped me into the conversation of Energy. He asked, “Who gives you energy when you talk to them and which people take it away?”

It really got me thinking because as much as sleep, and eating habits and working hours are very important, I wasn’t thinking about how other people effected my energy. In some cases I was giving too much of my energy away and feeling worn out.

My friend made me realise that I need people around me who will cheer me on, offer an insightful word and even coach me. Creating and maintaining relationships is so important to being our best selves. Without the energy we gain from others, how can we expect to be creative?

Who is the John Lennon to your Paul McCartney?

Consider where your creative energy is coming from and then make adjustments to keep it flowing.

Thanks for reading. One more Creative Quality still to go!

Tom Marshall

Creative Director, Captive North