As an entrepreneur, your life probably runs on schedules; you have to-do lists, calendars, and reminders set on every electronic device you own. In your world of endless meetings and projects, it might seem as though your planner is the only thing keeping you from falling apart. Schedules are great tools for time management, but are they always a good thing? When do schedules start becoming a hindrance rather than a help?
Micromanaging your day kills creativity
If you plan out every hour (or maybe even every half-hour) of your day, then you are leaving no time for your brain to think creatively. According to creativity expert Michael Michalko, “creative thinking depends on continuing the flow of ideas long enough to purge the common, habitual ones and produce the unusual and imaginative.” In other words, you need to give yourself time and space for creative-thought evolution. You may be cutting off ideas of inspiration if you’re forcing yourself to switch tasks prematurely. For example, if you work on a project (let’s call it Project 1) for one hour and then switch to Project 2, your brain may still be in Project 1 “mode.” In this case, forcing yourself to work on Project 2 will cause two things to happen: A) you will crush potentially brilliant and insightful thoughts for Project 1, and B) you will not be able to fully focus on Project 2 because you are still preoccupied with Project 1. This means you’ll be killing your creativity and wasting your time.
Set goals rather than time-blocks
You should absolutely stick to your schedule for client meetings and business events. After all, you need to stay professional. So meetings with other people, whether they are clients or employees, should be treated as immovable events. But if you are working privately on your own tasks, go ahead and give yourself some scheduling wiggle-room. Set goals for yourself rather than blocking in an hour-by-hour schedule. For example, in your planner, write down, “I need to complete two hours of work on this project by the end of the day.” You can even go ahead and schedule a time-slot to start that work as long as you remain prepared to shift your schedule around to accommodate your thinking process.
Don’t fight your brain- you’ll never win!
Despite our best efforts, we can’t control our brains. According to Barry Gordon from Scientific American, “our awareness only sets the start and the end of a goal but leaves the implementation to unconscious mental processes.” All of our creative thoughts depend on unconscious processes that require time and space to develop. So if you catch yourself thinking about a project, take a break from whatever you’re currently working on and allow your brain to play around with whatever ideas keep encroaching on your thoughts.
By creating a flexible schedule, you will allow your brain to work freely, openly, and creatively. Stick to your goals (after all, deadlines are still important), but whenever you can, let your thinking process have full control. Try following your brain’s whims and you may be surprised how much more productive you’ll be.