Are lists bad for creativity?

Are lists bad for creativity?
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#1

I’ve been feeling addicted to my lists in OF or Things 3.

Now, I’m not looking for definitive answers or the right way to do this or that. But some open-minded thinking about this.

But I’m wondering about whether those lists are keeping me focused on things that I should be doing versus the things that I want to be doing. So I’m remembering to crank through things that need to be cranked…and maybe short-term things are getting done. But the stuff that I really want to be doing, the stuff that could and maybe would be good for the long-term…because I’m so focused on the stuff on my list.

I’m wondering if forgetting some of the little daily tasks and disappointing people in the short term might actually be better for doing the things that might turn into greatness in the long term.

Not asking whether creative work can be tracked in GTD. Asking whether GTD doesn’t allow for the kind of magic that comes from working with things and seeing what they can turn into. Does it really free up your mindspace or does having everything thought through and written down actually pollute your mindspace by surfacing all of these tasks?


(Josh Rensch) #2

I think having a list of all the tasks and things that need to be done, done. That way, once they are done, I can have free time to think about things. So, having lists frees me up. But, I do try to kill things off. Stop working on things that don’t matter.

You might be having too many lists and too many actions to accomplish. Figure out what’s important and drop the rest. But having the list of what’s important will help keep you from thinking you’re forgetting something.


(Mike N) #3

Right, the main failure of all this productivity jibba-jabba is that the space gets filled with more things vs. creating space to think or do creative work.

One of the least focused on gems from the 12 week year was a weekly block of time for strategic thinking. I think most folks filled that with important tasks vs. thinking.

John Cleese has a presentation about creativity where he talks about how it has to be scheduled and that there is a time requirement do get out of the task based / distracted mindset. If I recall, he says it takes 30 minutes of just sitting there undistracted to get out of it. So, if you want to write or think for an hour, you likely need 90 minutes in you schedule.

I’ve seen a version from 2010 but could not find it. I believe this version covers the same:


(Wilson Ng) #4

I’vd been here. Addicted to my shiny new app like OmniFocus (or Things or Todoist or whatever task manager is out there). I’ve cured my addiction to my lists by engaging with my task manager only when I’m in planning mode.

I think that the less time I spend in my task manager, the better I feel.If I am working in my task manager, it usually means I’m not spending as much time on actually doing.

I love working on my world domination plans (or at the very least, trying to build a bunk bed from IKEA. Damn you IKEA).

I can look at my projects and next actions all day long but I am not focused on the doing part.

I’d rather plan as best as I can with the current circumstances and the current wealth (or lack thereof) of knowledge I have now. As I work on my projects, I can review at certain intervals and re-adjust the project’s next actions based on the new circumstances (oops, broke something) and new knowledge gained.

Stay out of planning mode (i.e. creating, deleting, or revising project tasks in your task manager) and get into execution mode (doing or engaging).

All that planning is no good if you’re not executing and making progress.


(Jeremy Wells) #5

In GTD speak, it sounds like you’re stuck at the 10,000-feet level. You may want to spend some time at the 30,000-feet level (areas of focus) to see if all those cranking tasks actually serve a bigger purpose. This also reminds me of David Sparks’ recent foray into hyper-scheduling. You may benefit from chunking some time for cranking versus thinking.