Set aside four hours to get one good hour of work done

I blogged a few weeks ago about David Lynch’s wonderful autobio book: Catching the Big Fish.

His life, much like most of ours, is all about creativity and execution. You come up with an idea, then you make it happen. Most of execution is actually a series of smaller creative ideas, to solve the challenges of bringing the original idea to life or market.

One of the secrets David shares regards time management and creative work. He pointed out that when he’s working creatively, he has to allot four hours of dedicated time to work “in flow” for sixty minutes. This is exactly how creative work really works out. You get distracted. You have creator’s block. You stick your toe in the water and at some point, boom, you are creating and it just pours out of you.

Too often, though, we treat creative work like functional work (licking stamps, paying bills, washing dishes, filing papers, etc.) and expect to get almost an hour of flow out of an hour. When it doesn’t happen, we get frustrated and it feeds more creative block in the future.

Recommended: Block out bigger chunks of time this week to dedicate to creative work or solutions. Expect a good deal of it to be wasted by traditional metrics, but measure the quality of the idea or solution when you finish the session. Make all the rest of your schedule conform to your new strategy of over budgeting time here.