If It’s Tuesday, It Must Be Time to Innovate
Have you ever felt as if you are on this merry-go-round, and you want to get off? I do, at times.
Especially at this time of year, just as Christmas and New Year’s roll around, I have a gazillion loose ends pulling at me, each one wanting my undivided attention. And I have books and articles to write. If it’s Tuesday, it’s time to innovate.
If you feel this way too, you might try some of the things I do.
1. Make room for the big things first.
I have discovered that if I put the big things I want to do in my calendar, such as “Block off two hours for writing,” I will do them. If I start with email, I get stuck in email. You can do the same thing with whatever is top on your list. If it’s trying to understand the architecture, do that first. If it’s cooking, do that first. Block off time at your best time of day.
It’s a fallacy to think you can just get the other stuff out of the way first. You never can. That other stuff continues to pile up. It’s urgent, not important. The other stuff will still be there for you. What you need to do is important work.
2. Block out enough time.
I have also discovered that I need at least an hour to make progress on my innovation. I can—and do—write in much smaller chunks. When I’m thinking hard about how to say something just right, or drawing pictures to go with a concept, I need more time. That innovation work takes thinking time. I want to give myself enough of that thinking time.
3. Take health breaks, but no email breaks.
I find that taking little walks every so often, as suggested by the Pomodoro technique, helps me stay focused. I might have to do some online or book research to determine if I’m going in the right direction, but I do not check email if I am in development mode.
Checking email all the time interrupts me. Taking a bio break or a walk break is an interruption, but an acceptable interruption. Those interruptions don’t block my thoughts the way email does. I also find that a little walk helps me think things through.
4. Don’t stay stuck.
If you’re innovating, you might get stuck. When I realize I’m stuck, I ask for help. I might first talk to the duck. If that doesn’t work, I try to collaborate with other people. If that doesn’t work and I’m working on a solo project, I have a bevy of reviewers I can ask for help.
We sometimes think that we can’t innovate on command. In one sense, that’s true. Innovation isn’t the same as rolling over or sitting up, and we aren’t pets. On the other hand, because we are smarter (I think we are!), we have ways to create an environment in which we can make it more possible to innovate.
Let me know if any of these tips work for you.