43 Folders

Back to Work

Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.

Join us via RSS, iTunes, or at 5by5.tv.

”What’s 43 Folders?”
43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

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?

Boz's picture

Great posting. I agree this...

Great posting. I agree this is a fascinating topic with how GTD works in regards to creative endeavors. I think one thing that appears to be missing from the discussion is the issue of improvisation in creative modes of thinking. Perhaps this is where some people hit a wall with GTD in their creative process, as widget cranking would appear to be the natural enemy of the kind of play and mental dexterity used to come up some creative material. GTD is great for getting the head clear and organizing time for doing this stuff, but beyond this I find I just don't need to use it in any more detail for creativity. I work in music/sound and I find that GTD becomes more useful once an idea begins to take form and I have had time to reflect on what I've done and where I might like to take it- the standard drafting process. So stuff like, "make a new nasally synth patch for riff in middle section." comes easily once the ball is rolling.

This whole discussion reminds me of Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt's "Oblique Strategies" which is something I tend to reach for from time to time when creative solutions are required, but not forthcoming. They were designed to reduce the tendency for the mind to wander away from a creative mode when other pressures begin to mount - shortage of time generally being the key driver.

Eno says:

"The Oblique Strategies evolved from me being in a number of working situations when the panic of the situation - particularly in studios - tended to make me quickly forget that there were others ways of working and that there were tangential ways of attacking problems that were in many senses more interesting than the direct head-on approach. If you're in a panic, you tend to take the head-on approach because it seems to be the one that's going to yield the best results Of course, that often isn't the case - it's just the most obvious and - apparently - reliable method. The function of the Oblique Strategies was, initially, to serve as a series of prompts which said, "Don't forget that you could adopt this attitude," or "Don't forget you could adopt that attitude." "

There are many software adaptations of the original card system that Eno and Schmidt used. It's one of the few things that I think actually makes a great OS X widget.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


Subscribe with Google Reader

Subscribe on Netvibes

Add to Technorati Favorites

Subscribe on Pageflakes

Add RSS feed

The Podcast Feed


Merlin used to crank. He’s not cranking any more.

This is an essay about family, priorities, and Shakey’s Pizza, and it’s probably the best thing he’s written. »

Scared Shitless

Merlin’s scared. You’re scared. Everybody is scared.

This is the video of Merlin’s keynote at Webstock 2011. The one where he cried. You should watch it. »