Take a look at a website of a random advertising agency or check out several CVs and you’ll almost certainly spot the word “creative” there. With such an incredible number of creative people around, one can only guess why our ways of living and working are not changing every month.
Creativity is an ability to come up with new ideas, solutions, suggestions on a specific situation or problem. Needless to say, the degree to which creativity is valued in business, art, science and, in fact, every other area is immense.
People usually have a quite straightforward opinion on creativity: either you have it or not. In the first case you are highly likely to succeed in any kind of work, in second one you can quietly analyze endless columns of figures for quarterly and annual reports and try to make the best of it.
Good news for everyone who have already decided to tolerate the fact they’re not going to re-invent the bicycle: creativity can be learned. For the time being let’s omit many techniques and advice on enhancing employee creativity and turn to some facts.
In his book, The Innovator's DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators, Clayton M. Christensen, one of the world’s leading business theorists, researched that creativity is not just a function of the mind but a function of behavior. While things like opportunities, motivation and involvement are absolutely necessary, the most important factor is practice. In other words, the more you train, the more creative you can become. Or how Chuck Close, a famous American photorealist, has put it: “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just show up and go to work.”
Practice means work and the more objective you are on your progress, the more odds there are that you’ll achieve excellent results eventually. Tracking time is great at providing you with objective data on your performance. Let’s now see how exactly it helps shake our common thinking patterns and break us free from usual paths our brain chooses to take every time a new problem has to be solved.
1. Keeps us focused and pinpoints distractions.
Someone once calculated it takes 25 minutes to get back fully to the task once it was interrupted. Every time you try to focus again you use new resources and so the brain gradually exhausts. Now think how many times you are distracted by emails, social media or meetings. With frequent distractions your brain finds it harder to solve routine tasks, let alone produce creative solutions.
Once you start tracking your time you instantly see how much of your time is spent on what. You set up the time for accomplishing the task and its deadline and then check if you’re able to do everything in time. In other words, time tracking gives you a bit of a self-imposed nudge. Better focus means being thoughtful, understanding the roots of the problem and therefore more odds for identifying new, creative solutions.
2. Frees up time to be creative.
Everyone has a feeling they lack just one more day to accomplish things. Learning creativity takes time. How are you supposed to become creative if you don’t know where your time goes?
Brilliant ideas won’t come by chance. Only people who work hard can expect to produce the best answer which will reward them for their efforts.
Your mind is already curious about everything you deal with in your work. All you have to do is give it more time to think it all over and investigate new opportunities. Real time tracking helps you organize your daily routine in ways best to spur active enquiring. With it, you can distribute your work evenly, perform everything on time and leave enough time to wake up your creative genius.
3. Helps preventing creativity crisis and fatigue.
Similar to the feeling of too little time for a task one also has a feeling of “Today I just can’t come up with something decent”. It feels like thoughts are swirling in your head, very scattered and unorganized, and you try hard to bring them together but for some reason you can’t.
Real time tracking means you can establish a comfortable schedule by providing you with fresh information on how your productivity fluctuates during the day. This way you can identify your most productive hours and make the most of them, not waste them on answering emails which could wait till the afternoon.
Therefore, you’ll be able to perform the most challenging and complicated tasks during these most productive hours (when your brain is most likely to produce creative solutions.)
Even geniuses whom we now admire so much followed this rule. Beethoven, for example, worked from sunrise till the early afternoon only. He then made long walks across Vienna with a pencil and paper in his pocket – after all, inspiration could come anytime. So he was well away from work for about 14 hours.
The same goes for Victor Hugo who worked in the mornings only and rested for the rest of the day.
How did they manage to create so much and so brilliantly great? The answer to this question refers us back to #1, “Keep focused” – absolute focus in the most productive hours means coming up with great ideas quickly.
4. Balances your work and rest.
Creativity and inspiration is not something you can plan. You can hardly expect them to come every day starting from 9 a.m. However, they are more likely to come when your brain is not exhausted with fruitless attempts to fight distractions and focus on work.
Real time tracking shows us dynamics of our productivity. There are 4 to 6 creative hours a day on average. That’s why track your time management skills because you just have to know when exactly these hours come and make the best of them without testing your limits in the remaining time.
Final thoughts – enhancing employee creativity is not super easy but possible
Tracking time can be a good option for enhancing employee creativity and helping unleash creative potential. At the same time it can their personal and professional growth.