For an artist, subjecting oneself to the rules may be tricky. Creative work does not always go hand-in-hand with discipline. We define creativity as work based on inspiration – and inspiration does not follow a specific plan. It may be momentary and spontaneous. So, is it possible to be creative yet still productive enough for others to call you disciplined?
Let’s discuss ten ways that discipline can kill creativity, and how to avoid this stigma.
1. Discipline as comfort
As you come to the same office every morning, follow your daily routine, take coffee breaks at certain times, you may begin feeling comfortable. At this point, you seize wanting to be different from the other office plankton around you. However, you calm yourself down by thinking you’re disciplined enough to follow the same schedule every day. This sort of ‘comfortable discipline’ is the worst enemy of creativity.
When you stop changing your environment, you kill creativity. One cannot create if he does not continuously grow as a person. You may remain self-disciplined if you try new things daily. For example, using a new software solution to do your creative work, or taking lunch outside with your computer to see if creativity strikes, or even going rollerblading with your colleagues during lunch will change the course of your routine.
2. Doing the job that you do not like
When you are doing something that you do not enjoy, no amount of self-discipline and planning can make you creative. You can stay disciplined as far as forcing yourself to sit and stare at the screen. This type of work requires a change of attitude if it is to keep you being creative.
If you can think of at least one reason why what you’re doing would be beneficial for someone else, then you may work on changing your attitude. If not, it’s time to part ways with this job.
3. Binge drinking, binge eating, or binge resting
This is more an outcome than a process itself, which can destroy creativity. You can force yourself to power through work you hate for many hours despite your disdain for the job at hand. It will make you feel proud.
But later, your creativity will slowly wither because you will not have any more motivation. In such cases, many people resort to such destructive activities as:
- binge eating,
- sleeping too much.
They feel that they’ve been working so hard that they deserve this outlet.
4. Thinking that discipline is productivity
The trick in creative work is to be working without actually thinking about it as a job. In creative work, when you make lists and try to get things done one by one, you will feel like running a mental marathon. Good news is that most jobs today are mobile and flexible, allowing workers such benefits as:
- longer breaks,
- work at nights,
- work during weekends.
Take benefit of being flexible and stop calculating hours. Start making mind maps. They are more visual, and they do not make you feel ‘only half done’ when you didn’t manage to complete one of the tasks.
Indulge in things you enjoy daily, besides work, don’t abstain. Abstaining is your enemy, especially when it comes to fun. It will come as a surprise that sometimes you may be more productive in less time than you would expect, and maybe that happens outside of regular working hours.
5. Exposure to people you don’t like
We can’t perform up to our full potential when surrounded by people we don’t like. It’s just a human factor. Especially when it is your boss who demands more discipline, better planning, and more significant results from you. Such people must understand that the creative job done under pressure does not compare to the creative job done in freedom.
You need to demonstrate that you perform better without their over-involvement. This approach may earn you some extra points, more flexible work hours, or even occasional working from home days – it all depends on the pre-set rules that exist in your work environment.
6. Disciplined sleeping
During the Industrial Revolution, the idea was born that the longer you can work without sleep, the better. It was considered healthy to be spending most of your day at work in the factory and sleeping for just a few hours. The bare minimum. Now we know that such routine is damaging and unhealthy.
Therefore, we have more time for sleep and personal tasks with work taking only 25% of our weekly routine. So, it’s up to us to decide when to go to bed and when to wake up. And the society dictates that we should go to bed at the same hour every evening. However, not many of us count how many hours it takes us to fall asleep.
This time of lying in bed waiting for the sleep to strike is, basically, useless. A person has to go to sleep when feeling tired. It’s better to wake up an hour later than your peers but to be fresh and creative all day than to wake up earlier and walk yawning around the office all day.
7. Discipline or routine?
When you are getting ready to travel, do you make lists of what to buy beforehand? Do you pack your socks and toothbrush? Weirdly enough, this is called routine. Something that you do without overthinking – you know it works this way. Discipline should come in the same way – seamlessly.
It’s no amount of force. If you force yourself to sit down and write something just because it’s the deadline tomorrow, you will get nowhere.
Real discipline is inbuilt into your routine – you will sit down to work way before the deadline, you will try a few times, and finally, it will work. There is no pressure of deadlines because you think in advance.
8. Discipline in informational exposure
Every day, we scroll social networks for fun without realizing how much informational overload to which we’re exposed. Due to this overload, it’s harder to concentrate on work later. Discipline should come in all spheres of life:
- and online.
Use handy apps that calculate and limit your time spent surfing social networks daily.
9. Disciplined me time
You cannot limit your me time because on different days you need different amounts of time for it. This will cause lower self-esteem and consequently will affect your creative work. Make sure that you take as much time to recharge as you need.
10. Discipline isn’t necessarily bad
As soon as you come to realize that rules are your ally, you will be able to use them for your benefit. Don’t be afraid of them, and don’t be scared to break them. Creative process may be messy, but a smart extent of rules will not hurt. Picasso would never be able to discover cubism if he didn’t break the rules of realism which was predominant in his era.
Most often we define discipline regarding submission to specific rules, controls, and schedules. We also understand that this set of rules was created by someone else, as opposed to our desire to be creative here and now. However, it is time we stopped thinking in such limited terms about discipline and creativity as different sides of one coin. The balance between these two lies in a self-disciplined plan that leads to the creation of value.