OriginalsOne of My Three Words for 2016 is creative. I want to generate more creativity in my life and work this year.

Do you need or want to bring some innovation to your work or team?

I am reading a book by Adam Grant called Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World. The book is full of interesting and provocative concepts. One that struck me as particularly relevant is that procrastination is highly linked to creativity.

A doctoral student Jihae Shim proposed to Dr. Grant that “when you put off a task, you buy yourself time to engage in divergent thinking rather than foreclosing on one particular idea.” Shin tested her thinking with a study asking college students to write proposals to fill a vacated commercial lot. She randomly assigned some students to procrastinate by playing computer games. In the end, the proposal from the procrastinators were 28% more creative than those students who did not procrastinate.

Many great creators were procrastinators. For example, Leonardo da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa between the years 1503 and 1519. In between those years, he was  dabbling with optical experiments and other creative or scientific learning.

“You cannot produce a work of genius according to a schedule or an outline”
(Historian) William Pannapacker

So what is the relevance to our 21st century organizational life?

  • (For me) It validates my tendency to iterate, to think and then think again. To let my ideas and insights “bubble up.”
  • We need to find innovative ways to (fill in the blank in your world)!
  • It illuminates a huge challenge in the current work environment in which we are so highly scheduled that we “have no time.”
  • So, we must find ways build in time to think creatively into our days, weeks, and months.

It is part allowing ourselves the time (small and larger segments) and part having the patience to procrastinate over time until our best ideas or work gel into great ideas.

What’s on your plate that could benefit from some creative procrastination?