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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?

Solo's picture

Jesse, Your entry is provocative...


Your entry is provocative for any of us who truly aspire to create. And to do so in a sustainable, continuous way. GTD is not an end in itself, it ought to free you up to let go to do your work, not be a "good GTD'er". At the same time, I think being conscious and using good tools ought to help ultimately.

First of all, once you get in the flow of a real creative endeavor it is good to accept the nature of this beast. You used GTD well to parse the project when applicable. And when the “animate” part came, it took over, as it must. You wore a nice shirt to your date, but why complain if it gets shredded when making out later?

Most of us know the state of minimal maintainence in the heat of really working & I dare say that state is in some way the heart of the matter--the flow state of creating is its own reward. When your pet dies and you are wearing the least filthy item from the laundry basket THEN there is cause for concern. Until then, let the to-go containers fall where they will.

The real task then is how to pick up the pieces once the project is DELIVERED & you collapse!

Since you know now that the culmination of a project is a snowball of unparsable action you can, in some sense, plan for it.

One suggestion is to know that this is likely to happen and figure some triage for post project starts. A timed sweep to physically grab all the laundry into a gigantic garbage bag, furiously scrubbing the kitchen sink til it gleams even though you have created a swamp of squalor, making a friend go running with you no matter what—those are all good starting points toward a post-project mindsweep. I personally recommend The Specials first album as the soundtrack to any timed sweep of this kind, though your milage may vary.

Thanks for your sincere comment—I am in the same boat myself (visual artist). I hope at the least that these commments help you to re-frame this part of the battle.





An Oblique Strategy:
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