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Vox Pop: Implementing GTD for Creative Work?

creativepro.com - Getting Design Done

Interesting article here by our old pal, Keith Robinson, introducing GTD to creative types. This is a fascinating topic for me, particularly since I sometimes find it difficult to "crank widgets" when it comes to anything creative.

Keith's an old hand with this stuff, so it's not surprising that he's developed his own tweaks for Getting Creativity Done. Here's a novel idea:

Create a creative time and space for yourself. Make sure it's free of distraction and get into the habit of going there as often as you can. When there, pull out your @creative lists and get to work. I find this is a great way to tackle smaller creative problems. It's how I come up with -- and get started on -- most of my writing. This article is a result of my @creative time.

That's an interesting way to think about contexts. Ordinarily, you'd think of contexts as representing access to a certain kind of tool or as a physical or temporal limitation, whereas Keith is using it almost like a project.

This is challenging stuff that my buddy, Ethan, and I end up talking about all the time. We both agree that you can use GTD to "clear the decks" for creative work -- to move aside all the mundane workaday tasks that might keep you from focusing on blocks of time for creative stuff. But we, like a lot of people, both struggle with how (or even whether) to put truly creative work into our GTD systems. What do you think?

How are you using GTD for creative work? What do projects and next actions look like for a painter, a screenwriter, or a dancer? What's your best trick for getting creative stuff done?

Jamie Phelps's picture

I do web development as...

I do web development as well. (http://www.epiphanymedia.net if you're interested.) There are some tasks associated with every project that just have to be blown through like "Register domain name," "Install CMS," "Browser testing," or "Code (or repurpose code for) contact form" that fit perfectly into a GTD system. I don't consider those the creative aspects of my web dev work. There are really only two phases of the design process that are creative, and one of those is more so than the other. Sketchstorming designs is the most creative aspect and then mocking up a site in Fireworks or Photoshop is second. That's it. Web design things not associated with a project are much more likely to be truly creative. Thinking up new layouts, IA setups, and that sort of thing are more likely to stir my creative juices than just cranking out a website. When cranking out the site, I'm probably reaping the rewards of said non-project related work.

Something you said in the Tech Talk stuck with me. You said that a trusted system should stop just short of being fun to use. I think that the things that go into the trusted system need to stop just short of fun to do. The stuff that's fun to do will happen. If you face Resistance, putting a calendar event down to do creative stuff each day will get the ball rolling. I don't think "Paint" or "Draw" or "Write" is clearly defined enough to be a true next action. It's a habit. It's something you want to be a part of you. I seriously doubt anyone is putting "Breathe" down as a next action, and I think the truly creative people get to that level of integration with their craft. Steven Pressfield would agree with putting down an appointment I think.




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