Thursday, September 9, 2010

Productivity Can Equal Downtime

Astronomical Clock detail The last few weeks have been really crazy for me. I’ve been working on a November deadline, working on revisions for a separate project, volunteering for Scouts, and trying to make sure the kids have everything they need for the start of school.

And, actually, I’ve gotten a lot done. If I run an errand, I can I hurry in the house from the grocery store, put everything away, and immediately plop down and start writing—that’s just out of necessity, since I don’t have any time to waste on a transition from the boring to the creative.

Unfortunately, my multi-tasking has increased a lot lately. And I know from experience that sometimes multi-tasking means that I get really strung out in the process.

Yes, I can catch up on emails on my phone while I sit in the carpool line in front of the elementary school. And I can make every minute count for the rest of my day, too—I’m very good at reviewing my daughter’s multiplication tables with her while cooking supper, while also making the kids’ lunches for the next day.

But what I miss, sometimes, is the daydreaming. I still fit in some story planning while doing things like getting ready for my day, but I miss the empty pockets of time where I could really let my mind wander.

When else can we really generate new ideas? If we’re distracted to death because there are emails and Twitter and Facebook notifications popping up, if the phone doesn’t stop ringing, etc.—then how do we have space in our head for fostering creativity?

That’s something I’m trying to work out now. But it’s been so nutty lately that if I have a meditative moment, I’m likely to fall asleep!

Do you make time for mental downtime? Do you find that’s when you get your best creative ideas—or is your brain too fried by the time you finally get a quiet moment that it just shuts down (which is where I am now)?