Why wasting time is important to become creative
We’re just at the end of January pushing full steam ahead into this already nutty year! But we hope before 2022 took off that you were able to waste some time!
Hopefully, you wasted some time and got creative. Yes, you read that correctly – wasting time is a powerful tool to put together a piece of art, come up with a song, or write a best-seller book.
You may be wondering, “How is it possible to be creative by wasting my time?”
And there is no catch here, I promise you will get the point by the end of this article.
But what can be considered as “wasted time”?
Technically, all the time is “wasted time” if there is no profound reason behind it, and this could include working hard, working out, and attending endless meetings if you do it just for the sake of it. But what’s more important, there is no reason to feel that wasting time is something bad at all.
I would like to stress that wasting time does not mean not doing anything. I hope you don’t get me wrong, it rather means that you don’t necessarily need to feel that you are being productive or efficient at all times because it is actually this sensation that usually blocks our minds and consequently our creativity.
Just chill and let it flow, be present and observe, but this requires practice, calm, and yes why not, a lot of fun!
When did we begin wasting time?
Being a kid is probably one of the most adventurous and funnest stages of our lives, and for most people, kids are always doing simple activities. But we would be astonished at how many creative activities from our childhoods remain till our adulthood.
I remember myself playing with anything I found in my way, whatever fun and curious thing could work, and I adapted the adult world rules to my possibilities, I took advantage of the handy tools to play around the house and invented new games with my little sister and neighbors. Any single idea became a new game, a new imaginary device with infinite functions.
We didn’t know, but we were helping each other to find our passions and build our future dreams.
Now I know we were very lucky to be kids, just like everyone.
Certainly, every kid lives in a different context, belongs to different generations, and has access to different living styles. This makes it even more interesting because no matter what, all kids in the world are natural inventors, even the shyest and quietest, you can look around and see the magic for yourself, and the best part is that the secret behind it is simple…
This fact allows us to explore the world at its best, giving us the chance to explore ourselves consequently and be surprisingly creative without effort. So what is the secret?
What could affect our creativity?
As we grow up, we start developing awareness, which could lead us to overthink things and affect our creativity if we don’t find a balance.
According to French psychologist Jean Piaget, there are 4 brain stages that kids go through and they help us to identify their different cognitive processes:
- Sensorimotor Stage: Birth through about 2 years. During this stage of cognitive development, children learn about the world through their senses and the manipulation of objects.
- Preoperational Stage: Ages 2 through 7. During this stage, children develop memory and imagination. They are also able to understand things symbolically and to understand the ideas of the past and future.
- Concrete Operational Stage: Ages 7 through 11. During this stage, children become more aware of external events, as well as feelings other than their own. They become less egocentric and begin to understand that not everyone shares their thoughts, beliefs, or feelings.
- Formal Operational Stage: Ages 11 and older. During this stage, children are able to use logic to solve problems, view the world around them, and plan for the future.
Awareness is developed during our childhoods, it helps us to be conscious of good and bad, and our moral frames are shaped with concepts that guide us to survive and act freely, and yet, sometimes limits us as well.
But what do all of these have to do with “wasting time and creativity”?
Ok, I know all of this could sound evident and plain to see, but it was my intention to get you on board and recreate those early moments in your life along with me because when we give ourselves the chance to be kids again, magic happens.
Now that we have reached this point and see how our childhoods are linked to creativity and how this can be enhanced and developed even in our laziest moments, let’s go over some tips and ideas to get into the groove of wasting time and seizing the spare time during our daily grind!
My personal creative process (and wasted time too)
In my personal experience as a music producer and songwriter, there are some common points that I have identified during my creative process.
Something that I really preserve is the innocence of being amazed at the simple details in objects, in nature, in people, and even in myself.
Being able to get surprised is essential for almost any creative process, and it does not require any effort, however, some people lack this capacity.
Why is this? Mostly due to the modern living style that is full of social media interactions, sensationalist ads everywhere, and similar stuff.
The lack of personal social activities, and the new fads overall. I hope you know why and how this relates to another, but we could dive deeper into that in another post, let us know if you would like us to.
In fact, we have talked about the neurotransmitters in our previous posts and how they can affect our lives when there is a deficiency. It may help you understand this point.
For instance, before beginning a new record, a new song, a new lyric, it is important for me to spend free time with myself, with my friends, with my family, and also with new people and places.
Somehow it is a way to swing around the past (my family), the future (new people), and the present (me and my friends), and take advantage of each.
Keeping myself tuned in with life and the motion of it helps me dance with the magic of the moment, that’s when I get inspired by the simplicity of the world. Just by living the moment without the necessity of being productive or avoiding wasting time, I just let it flow. For example, right now, while I am writing this, I am in it (some people call it “the zone”).
It is important to keep our minds in good health, and this includes good hydration, food, and positive thoughts.
In fact, I have shared my creative process with other artist friends and acquaintances, and naturally, we all have different ways to get inspired, but there is one thing in common, we all waste a lot of time before reaching “the zone”.
It is easy to look at the past in history and see how it is full of important characters that affected our current times despite being positive or negative, and believe it or not, they also procrastinated very much before being famous for their works.
If the history of creativity teaches us anything, it is that great ideas often come when we’re least expecting them. Consider Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who described how new melodies would arrive while he was eating in a restaurant, walking after a meal, or getting ready for sleep at night. “Those that please me, I retain, and even hum; at least, so others have told me,” he wrote. “It seems to me impossible to say whence they come to me and how they arrive; what is certain is that I cannot make them come when I wish.” See?
Tenzin Gyatso is the 14th Dalai Lama, a spiritual leader who travels the world advocating for the Tibetan people and teaching about compassion as the source of happiness in life. But it was not always thus—Gyatso was once a bored student who found it hard to get motivated. “Only in the face of a difficult challenge or an urgent deadline would I study and work without laziness,” he recalls. Even though his life is now a different story and full of purpose, we can see his passion and creativity were boosted in the middle of that sensation of feeling stuck doing nothing.
Perhaps one of the most famous procrastinators for the way he publicly shared his creative process to many media, Steve Jobs used to take breaks anytime he could do it, went out for a walk, and relaxed with nature to get inspired.
So, when Steve Jobs was putting things off and going on walks, he was actually creating a vacuum inside of his brain that could be filled with new ideas and potential solutions to those problems that he was working on.
The time Steve Jobs was putting things off and noodling on possibilities was time well spent in letting more divergent ideas come to the table, as opposed to diving right in with the most conventional, the most obvious, the most familiar things.
This group is well known by almost all the world for at least one of their famous songs and especially for those who are actual fans.
The Beatles shared on many occasions that they used to rehearse a lot in their early times and there is no question about it. However, it is well known that they spent really great moments literally doing nothing but having fun.
Fortunately, we can witness their creative process through their records and moments caught on camera. I bet there is nothing better than spending time with your friends, having fun, and creating music with a great purpose but also unintentionally. What a blessing.
Find a place to get creative
It is essential for artists, creators, inventors, and entrepreneurs overall to find a place where they can feel inspired and relaxed. Here are some good ideas of places you can waste time on.
Libraries and bookstores: It’s not necessary to have homework to visit your nearest library or bookstore, I guarantee you it is quite fun to sneak a peek around these peaceful places and find interesting books, magazines, and people.
Early Mornings or Late Nights: I do love early mornings particularly because they are for me another blank page to keep on writing a new story with music notes, colors, and beautiful landscapes being showered with sunglow, but late nights result in a powerful canvas for owly personalities full of ideas that have embedded during the day and are ready to be landed.
Hotels: This is especially for travelers and adventurers, it is the perfect place to get relaxed with a comfortable massage or contemplate the sunset from the terrace alone or accompanied.
Oh, and there is no need to go on vacation, you can escape for a weekend and keep working, await your meeting or whatever you need at a hotel, there is this nostalgic sensation of not being at home, missing someone or something that makes you feel grateful and sparks creativity.
Bars: (For those who are of drinking age and for those who are comfortable in this setting).
Bars are a great no-pressure zone, for taking it easy, people watching, and decompressing. It is fun to spend time in a bar full of new people that could tell you an incredible story. Remember that each of us is a different world, and here is a chance to get to know it.
If you’re a writer looking to sharpen your ability to write conversational pieces that click with your audience, go bar-hopping (but not to one of the annoying ones with music so loud that you have to scream to be heard).
Parks and hiking trails: It is good to turn off the inner-chatter and crank up our listening ear, and going out for a walk in the park or hiking trails are a must if we mean it.
This may lead you to come across a new animal friend and observe their unique quirks.
A bench in a busy downtown:I can easily picture a movie where I am sitting and people just live. Yes, they walk around freely from here and there and I can observe how they love, how they have fun, couples kissing in front of me, kids playing and shouting, guys skating and buying ice creams. I find this idea one of my favorites.
It is maybe one of my best hacks to get inspired and write a song or come up with a crazy idea in the future.
Record Stores: Well, these places are sadly disappearing, but there are still a few around your city.
If you have free time don’t miss the chance to include it in your list. It is actually perfect for a romantic date where you guys can explore their musical tastes with each other and get inspired. Who knows, maybe I will write a song about this one.
Movie Theaters: Even if you don’t like flicks, I am positive you can get inspired within a movie theater, especially if you have no expectations and simply enjoy what you are watching, of course, the selection will play an important role, so please pick the one you really feel attracted to.
Art Museums: Here you will learn from the greats, especially if you love abstract paintings or contemporary artists. Have you felt that hunch of getting out of your comfort zone? I know an Art Museum can help you realize how important it is to see another kind of art.
Live Concerts and Performances: Are you looking for a hit of adrenaline? Is there a better place than a live concert? If you have attended one before, you will agree with me. Music is one of the best marvels to get inspired by while you are simply enjoying the moment, AND, yes, it is also a way of wasting time.
Conversation with Friends: Ideas happen when you stop talking about them and start making them happen….. to an extent. Have you ever had an idea in your brain or written in a notebook that just felt like it was missing something, but then you talked it over with a friend and the missing pieces weren’t far behind? Your friends will have perspectives totally different from yours, so don’t underestimate the power of a simple conversation.
Supermarkets: Ok, I know this may sound strange, but you’d be astonished at how many famous artists have gotten inspired while doing common tasks such as shopping at the supermarket or even washing the dishes, has it ever happened to you?
Kids’ Places: This one was a suggestion from our founder, Rebecca, who since having her son has been inspired just by going to the park with him, the zoo, or kids’ museums. Watching the world through children’s eyes sometimes reminds us of our inner-child and sparks all the innovation we left behind on the playground as 6-year-olds.
Fun Facts about wasting time for creativity
Procrastination is not always the same as wasting time, the first one is always tending to put things off for whatever reason (laziness, fear, rebellion, and many others) and, on the other hand, wasting time is mostly associated with a bad habit or useless activities, however, it goes beyond a social concept, it should be seen and taken as a moment where we can allow ourselves to relax and cut the daily routine, a break for contemplating the things that we usually don’t appreciate.
According to research by Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik, once we finish a task, we stop thinking about it — but when it’s interrupted and left undone, it stays active in our minds. Procrastinating strategically means stopping whatever creative tasks we’re working on before they’re complete to allow more creative ideas to bubble up, “making gradual progress by testing and refining different possibilities,” as Grant writes in his book.
“Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is relax.” Marck Black
Physical symptoms such as headaches, tension in the neck and shoulders, dizziness, fatigue, and poor sleep can all be a result of stress overload. Stress can affect our mental state too as it elevates levels of cortisol; a hormone that affects the function of the brain. This can result in a worrying, poor concentration, difficulty in making decisions, and uncontrollable thoughts.
Procrastination provides time to reflect on what’s most important.
Much better decisions may result from procrastination.
You can get other things done on your to-do list when you engage in active procrastination. Procrastination allows your mind to process.
Research by Chu and Choi in 2005 found that active procrastinators were not paralyzed by worry. They also had lower stress levels, exhibited less avoidant tendencies, and had healthier self-efficacy.
What do you think?
Time-wasters that you should avoid or reduce
Multitasking: The human brain isn’t designed to multitask. Your brain has to slow down as it switches between tasks, and this makes you less efficient.
Maybe you say the opposite, but here is an interesting article about this fact. Slow down and seize your time.
All-Things Email: Every time you get an alert that you have a new email, your concentration is broken. Then there’s responding to pointless emails, or trying to find the right email in a disorganized inbox.
Excessive Social Media: Reading random articles or getting sucked into useless “research” is all too easy. Take a break from social media whenever you can.
Pointless Meetings: don’t waste time in meetings that go nowhere, as far as possible try to limit them and make them more efficient. You could spend that time having a coffee with a workmate and come up with brilliant ideas. We really try to limit meetings at Knit to only essential ones and leave everything else for Slack.
Too Many Breaks: The 3 p.m. doldrums hit and you’re looking for a pick-me-up — maybe a little snack or coffee to get you through the day. The problem is, you end up lingering and never really get your focus back.
That little break can turn into a big waste of time. Are you eating (or worse, smoking) your time away?
Oversleep: We all love falling asleep and recovering for another great day, but what about sleeping all day long? I mean 12 or 15 hours, Wow, it is ok if you had a bad night, but if this is constantly happening, dear friend, you are wasting valuable time that you could tap into other joyful activities.
Junk Content: This goes for all junk content overall, offline and online, and includes food, digital content, music, and gossip, just to mention a few.
This article intends to encourage you to improve your quality of life by taking advantage of the art of wasting time efficiently, but also warn you about those practices that may harm you in different ways.
Listen to the experts and follow your intuition, they will give you signs of which activities are best for you.
It is important to differentiate when we are wasting time efficiently or else if we are wasting time with no purpose and even with bad consequences.
Sometimes, it is easy to recognize this difference, your mind and body will speak to you. They will show you if what you are doing is really being something good or bad for you and your life overall.
Don’t let your conscience punish and judge your desires of having fun and waste some time, let yourself dive into these ideas and thoughts and simply go for them, use the judgment to make good decisions, and explore the results. are they adding value to your tasks? to your relationships? to you?
Use this article as a new beginning for shifting the social thought of wasting time from bad to good, but with full responsibility.
Remember that creativity is the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality. Creativity is characterized by the ability to perceive the world in new ways, to find hidden patterns, to make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena, and to generate solutions. Creativity involves two processes: thinking, then producing.
And last but not least, never abandon your inner child, she and he will make amazing decisions when it comes to linking creativity and wasting time.