OneNote, binders, baskets, Moleskins, notebooks, index cards and files – I have tried many systems to collect the ideas I amass for dots, articles, sessions, class, etc. – but none of them have really hit a sweet spot for me. So the other day, I decided to make a list of the “pending” ideas that I have out there – collected from emails, clippings, notes, saved social media links and cut out articles.
There are many days when I feel like I have no ideas from which to write a leadership dot, but in reality, my problem is that I have too many ideas. Because there is more than one option, I waste valuable time and energy trying to decide which ideas connect with each other or what topic to pick for the day.
It reminded me of this quote (also in the pile!) from Box of Crayon’s Great Work Provocations: “One paradox is that creativity needs boundaries to flourish. How could you tighten the parameters?”
The people that created a human-centered design class I am taking certainly subscribe to this principle. We had about 90 minutes to interview subjects, assess needs, brainstorm options and develop a crude prototype for possible solutions about how to make the morning commute better. If we would have been given 90 hours, our prototype would have been more elaborate, but I don’t think our proposed options would have been significantly better. The constraints kept us focused on the task, instead of wasting time hoping to come up with the perfect answer.
Whether for writing dots or completing other creative pursuits, too much time or too many options seem like it should be a good thing, but, counterintuitively, it isn’t. If you erect some fences, you’ll be free to run within them.
Source: Great Work Provocation, September 14, 2017. Subscribe here.