The Myths of the Overworked Creative

Watch this excellent presentation on productivity myths and truths by Tony Schwartz, a productivity and performance consultant, over at the 99percent blog (note, this is a popular creativity site, nothing to do with occupy wall street, sort of its antithesis…)

Tony discusses:

The four sources of energy

1. Quantity – Physical energy. The foundation of all other energy. Sheer force
2. Quality – Emotional energy. Engagement in and Enjoyment of your work. (How do you feel when you perform at your best? That’s the way you need to feel to perform at your best.) You can cultivate these emotions.
3. Focus – Mental energy. Undivided, absorbed, sustained attention.
4. Purpose – Spiritual Energy. When you think what you do really matters, you bring more energy to the table.

Three prevalent productivity myths

Myth 1: best way to get work done is to work more hours

Reality 1: We are not meant to work continuously. Build in intermittent renewal along the way. Physiologically designed to “pulse”. Designed to expend and renew energy in a rhythmic way. If we do not do this, we will look for artificial ways to do it (Coffee in the AM, Martinis in the PM, Sleeping pills overnight.)

Myth 2: 1 hour less sleep = 1 hour more productivity

Reality 2: Even small amounts of sleep deprivation have a profound impact not just on our health, but also on our cognitive capacity and our effectiveness. Sleep is the most important behavior in your life to get right, and it’s the first one we get wrong.

Myth 3: It’s the number of tasks we’re capable of juggling simultaneously that determines how productive we are.

Reality 3: We’re most efficient when we do one thing at a time, fully absorbed, sequentially.

And gives us applications points by challenging you to

Ask Yourself

* What’s the longest you’ve gone without checking your email during the past month?
* When was the last time you took an hour or two out of your day just to think creatively or long term without interruption?
* How often do you sit back for a few moments, take a deep breath and quiet your mind?

My Commentary

It’s interesting how closely aligned his findings are with the God given concepts of sleep, rest, sabbath, and mission…


2 responses to “The Myths of the Overworked Creative”

  1. lukef Avatar

    Hey Matt

    I really enjoyed this video, it changed the way work, or at least now I have watched it, I know the things I need to change, (I have been working on the sleep portion for a while).

    Something that really took my attention was in your commentary, you mentioned the Sabbath, as a fellow Sabbath keeper, I was just wondering how you arrived at it/your thoughts on it?


    1. Matt Heerema Avatar

      I guess that depends on what you mean by “Sabbath keeping”. I simply meant that we were designed to take a day off here and there. (My theology of the Sabbath is a bit different from that).

      Also his comments about focus and purpose tie in directly with the way Jesus teaches His followers to live: on a mission, with every bit of your life designed around that mission.

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