Reading time: 4 min 22 sec
There was always a conflict alive within my thoughts about the concept of productivity and creativity. By default, I never liked the word productivity, since it is a typical multinational cooperate word which is generally used by big bosses to multiply their production efficiency and profit acquirement. So I hated to be productive! Whenever someone says me to be productive, I couldn’t just tolerate. Instead, I wanted to be creative. But then I knew that this requires “discipline” of some sort, which is again seemed to be a close relative of the word “productivity”. Also, I had a vague thought that these two concepts might have some obscure connection. Anyway, I couldn’t do my work for a long time satisfactorily since I failed to figure out the bridge between productivity and creativity. I always ended up with some thought-loops in which I trapped myself pathetically. Basically, I needed to know how productivity and creativity are related so that I could do some work peacefully. This may not make sense to many of you, but .. what to say, that was how I felt then. It took a long time to get some underlying prin
ciples behind all these terms such as productivity, creativity, freedom, discipline etc. And now, I can make out at least some connections between them. Then I thought I would share those with you. Here we go,
Productivity: This term generally refers to the concept of efficiency to optimise or minimise the energy and time required to do some task. It doesn’t relate anything creative. But productivity is vital in industries, companies as they behold for a better annual profit and the least loss. This is generally achieved by setting goals, plans, targets, deadlines, to-do lists etc. There is a well defined, organised way (by setting policies and deadlines) to be the productive and only thing we have to do is just to follow those ways by disciplining ourselves and get maximum things done in stipulated time. Generally, following these ways rigorously fetches a tremendous amount of pressure and kind of machine mindedness. (But some people seem to have no stress or tension following this path. We will see the reason at the end.). And this mode of work, i.e. being productive, never brings creative ideas, inventions(This is not entirely true, we will see the reason at the end) for most of us. But this mode is constructive when the process to execute is well defined and we are supposed to do it in the stipulated time, since setting deadlines makes us put ourselves in the fire, especially when it is urgent. A good example is writing a report. If there is an urgency to write a report, then it is good to set some deadlines for each section so that writing process happens and will get finished almost around the deadline time (Here I am talking about the people of average writing skills who puts the average amount of conscious effort during report writing). Another example where you can be in productive mode is when you develop some skills. Let’s say that you are developing a language speaking ability. Here we need a conscious effort to start and maintain a continuous speaking practice. This is generally frustrating since you require a lot of energy and time. So setting and meeting goals, to-do lists ensures some amount of work done and keep you in the practice track. And the more you practice the skills with conscious effort, the more it naturally happens for you (Oops.. I am diverting the subject). So in general, it is always good to have a productive mode which usually seeks efficiency from your side.
Creativity: Not all work can be done with productive mode. Example writing a beautiful poem in one hour. This doesn’t make sense. But it can be done. Then, the beauty of the poem is not assured. Means the efficiency of the task is not predictable, no matter how forcefully you try yourselves to write a poem in one hour, your poem’s beauty is still not assured. This leads to the indispensability of an entirely new type of work mode where you can’t get results just by putting yourself in the fire; by setting deadlines or goals. To get the best results out of these type of work, in fact, you need nothing, but a sense of completion. This is hard to explain in words (That’s why I used the word “completion” which encapsulates the entire concept), but at least we need a set of things such as, freedom to think towards different directions, a sense of playfulness, a feel of beauty, a bit of courage to make and accept mistakes, a tendency to execute things just to see what happens, and more importantly a mind to have fun and excitement while doing work. The mindset of such a person is the home ground of all sort of groundbreaking ideas. Ideas never come out by just being productive. In terms of time and energy, the creative mode is highly inefficient but a vital part of doing original work. Without creation (without creative mode), we never execute any ideas, and the term productivity becomes meaningless.
The convergence of both terms: Even though both modes are entirely different at its heart, we need both styles depending on the type of work in our hands. In fact, Productivity and Creativity are complementary. Moreover, they are connected in a bit obscure manner. This is how the connection goes: Some good people are just lazy! They are capable of doing great, but they are lazy enough not to complete their tasks. In that case, it is good to have deadlines and plans so that they feel some kind of urgency in doing work, which turns them into working mode. And once they start working, they are highly creative and unaware of time and surroundings. And often they then merge themselves into a single task for a long time such that they fail to follow the other plans, but then who cares it as long as they enjoy their work in hand? So setting goals and to-do lists serve as an ignition to their creativity. In a word, tools of productive mode can generate creativity indirectly.
Bottom line: To do a job, no matter the type, the most basic package we need is FUN and EXCITEMENT. That is why some, but very rare, people feel no pressure in doing some urgent and important tasks as they find fun in doing so (just like how you feel during creative mode).