How To Be a Productive Artist with Agile Results

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“Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.” – Pablo Picasso

The Productive Artist is an idea I introduced in my book, Getting Results the Agile Way (a best-seller in time management, thank you everybody for your support).

I’ve seen far too many people with bunches of brilliant ideas that never see the light of day.

I also see too many people that are incredibly productive, but don’t use enough of their creative side.

I wanted to create a simple system that could help create more Productive Artists.

Do More Art and Flow More Value

I want to debottleneck and unleash artists to flow more value to the world, and I wanted to unleash the creative side that many people have as a kid, but lost somewhere along the way.

They forget how to dream big.

They forget how to play with possibility.

They don’t operate anywhere near the level that they are capable of.

I want to reduce the Greatness Gap between what people are capable of, and what they share with the world.

Combine Power Hours + Creative Hours to Unleash Your Greatness

There are a lot of powerful tools within Agile Results, but I want to hone in on two right here:

  1. Power Hours – A Power Hour is a way to turn ordinary hours into extraordinary ones.  You can use Power Hours to set your productivity on fire.  A Power Hours is when you’re “in the zone.”  It’s when you’ve got your “groove on.”  You can use Power Hours to bring more zest into what you do, as well as find more “flow.”
  2. Creative Hours – A Creative Hour is simply an hour where you explore ideas from your most creative mindset.  Creative Hours are a powerful tool for performing creative exploration and creative synthesis.

Individually, each idea is a powerful one.  Power Hours will amplify your productivity by using your high energy for better, faster results.  Your Creative Hours will help you innovate and create more productive works of art.

But together, these ideas help you unleash your creativity and operate at a whole new level.

Compound Your Creative Results

By combining Power Hours + Creative Hours, you will light your imagination on fire, create more breakthroughs, and blaze a trail of momentum with your results.

Your Creative Hours are really a state of mind—a state of daydreaming.

It’s the mindset that’s important.

Whereas your Power Hours may be focused on results, your Creative Hours are focused on free-form thinking and exploration. You might find that Creative Hours are your perfect balance to Power Hours.

You might also find that you thrive best when you add more Creative Hours to your week.

Ultimately, you might find that your Power Hours free up time for your Creative Hours, or that your Creative Hours change the game and improve your Power Hours. Your power hours might also be how you leverage your ideas from your Creative Hours.

Power Hours Explained

Simply put, a Power Hour is a way to turn ordinary hours into extraordinary ones.

You can use Power Hours to set your productivity on fire.  A Power Hours is when you are “in the zone.”  It’s when you’ve got your “groove on.”  You can use Power Hours to bring more zest into what you do, as well as find more “flow.”

Power Hours are the ultimate key to unleashing your greatness within.

I use Power Hours to get more done in less time, and to help me deal with everything from a lot of little tasks that have piled up, to dealing with big, heavy challenges, or to do my greater work.

Power Hours are a fast way to chop a lot of work down to size, and it’s a way to use your best energy to get your best results.

Power Hours are a Great Way to Switch Gears

Power Hours are also a great way to switch gears.

Maybe you can’t “sprint” forever, but you can go faster for an hour.

Power Hours are also a great way to Batch and Focus.  For example, you can “batch” your work, by grouping a bunch of similar tasks and plow through them.  When you Batch and Focus on your work, you can apply concentrated effort.

This helps you zip through things faster and easier.

It builds momentum in your day and for your week.

We All Have Power Hours Throughout the Week

But there’s another aspect of Power Hours.

Throughout the day, we have are ups and downs.

These are the times in the day and in the week where you feel at your best.

If you work out, you know when some of your peak workout times are.

You have peak working times, too.

If you pay attention to this, you can both start to better leverage your existing Power Hours, as well as start to add more high-value work to your Power Hours.

Instead of going against the grain, or swimming up stream, you’ll find that you can very quickly unleash better and better results, and get more done in an hour than you can get done all week.

The Story of Power Hours

I was frustrated by the fact that it seemed like, even though I put in a lot of time at work, it seemed that I got most of my important work done in a few hours.

I was spending a lot of time, but it wasn’t paying off.
So much of my time was eroded by spending time on activities that drained me.
So much of my time was spent working in ways that worked against my strengths.
So much of my time was spent in meetings that wasted time.

I remember the day this insight hit me like a ton of bricks:
I was spending 40 hours, but only 4 of those hours felt highly productive.

4 out of 40!

I panicked.
I started to ask colleagues if they were experiencing the same thing.
I told them I felt like I only had 4 highly productive hours in a week.

In each case, they turned to me and said something along the lines of:
“Wow — You get 4 productive hours!  I only get 1 or 2!”

O.K.  So I wasn’t alone.  But I was determined to add more Power Hours to my week.

The problem is, even though I was getting 40 hours of work done in 4 hours, I wanted to really crank up what was possible each week.

So I set a simple goal:

Achieve 4 Power Hours each day.

With that one little move, I forever took my personal productivity to a new level, that continues to serve me in work and life.

How To Add More Power Hours to Your Week

You can use add more Power Hours to your week in two ways:

  1. Create a deliberate Power Hour – Carve out an hour to be your Power Hour.  Assign an hour to Switch Gears, Batch and Focus, and apply yourself.  For example, I block an hour on Thursday afternoons to deal with all the administrative tasks that pile up.  Over time, you can become more effective and effective, like building any habit.
  2. Pay attention to the best hours in your day – Discover the Power Hours you already have by paying attention to your energy throughout the day.   Then use your Power Hours to apply your best thinking to better work (don’t let the small stuff wear you down.)   Use your Power Hours to work on higher-value things to radically amplify your impact.

Power Hours are the key to creating a Strong Week (when you combine Power Hours with working your strengths).

They are also the key to doing 40 hours of work in 4 hours of time.

But, what if you could turn just 4 hours of your day into Power Hours?

Get Intense and Explore What You are Capable Of

Here’s what happened to me.  When I figured out ways to have 4 Power Hours each day, it was like producing a week’s worth of work in a single day.

Use your best times of the day to produce your best results.

And, deliberately find ways to create more Power Hours in your day, and in your week.

Calling something your Power Hour gives you the freedom and flexibility to experiment with getting intense and seeing what you are truly capable of.

In many ways, Power Hours are you in your element, you at your finest, and your chance to express what you are truly capable of.

Creative Hours Explained

A Creative Hour is simply an hour where you explore ideas from your most creative mindset.

This one concept alone could lead to your greatest breakthroughs in work and life, and help you operate at a higher level.

When you’re under the gun, and pressed for time, or have to get things done, you don’t get a chance to really explore possibilities or play out your creative side.

That’s where Creative Hours come in.

Creative Hours are your tool to rise above the noise, and build your creative muscle to make the most of all the crazy challenges and opportunities that come your way in life.

Best of all, your Creative Hours are your way to throw your paint against the canvas of life and add your personal twist that comes with your unique experience, talents, and lens of the world.

Make Space for Your Creative Ability

To keep it simple, think of a Creative Hour as a sanctioned time where you explore ideas and test your creative abilities.  The output of a Creative Hour can be anything from new ideas, to new ways of thinking, to breakthroughs in your brilliance.

The big idea behind Creative Hours is that we can use some hours during our week to invest in our creative self.  It’s a simple way to generate more high-value ideas, for work or life, and to practice your innovation skills and abilities in a stress-free way.

I’ve experimented over the years and found my best Creative Hours are either early in the morning, or late at night, and I’m especially creative on Fridays and Saturday mornings.

Creative Exploration and Creative Synthesis

When you make space for your own creative abilities, magic happens.

You’ll get better at creative exploration and creative synthesis.

You’ll connect dots.

You’ll get flashes of insight.

Inspiration will strike like lightening.

Stress Free Creativity

The idea of stress-free is important.  Your brain works better when it’s rested and relaxed.

The part that makes it stress free is that you carve out time in your busy schedule for it.

The other part that makes it stress free is that you are perfectly free to spend the hour daydreaming of possibilities, chewing and noodling on problems, and simply playing with ideas.

Instead of pursuing results, you’re embracing your own creative process, and results are a byproduct.

If you give yourself this chance, you’ll find breakthroughs in many areas of work and life, and you’ll actually leapfrog ahead.

The Creative Hour Mindset

What makes a Creative Hour so special is that you set the stage for it.
It’s your mindset.

It’s undisturbed time where you step back from the hustle and bustle.  You give yourself time and space to think and explore.

To get in the right mindset, you first calm your mind.  If you truly made space for this hour, then embrace this hour.  Give yourself the freedom to explore and tap your creative power.

Don’t focus on “being creative” or stressing yourself out with coming up with bright ideas.  It’s like finger-painting.  It’s messy and fun.  And, it’s silly.  Some of your ideas will be silly, and, if they are, then you’re doing it right.

It means you found a way to play with your mind and dance with ideas, that you may have forgotten from long ago.

How To Get Started with Creative Hours

To keep this very simple and very practical, find one hour in your week, where you can truly decompress and unwind.

This is a great practice whether you are using a Power Hour or not.   We all need our “think time.”  In this case, we’re simply using this stress-free think time to release our productive artist.

In this hour, pick one thing in your life that you think about a lot.  This will keep it relevant, and you’ll instantly be engaged in the process.

Ask yourself a few simple starter questions:

  1. What would good look like for XYZ? (Paint a vivid picture in your mind, bring it to life, add action to the scene)
  2. What would Edward de Bono or Tony Robbins or Zig Ziglar do about XYZ? (plug in your favorite hero)
  3. What would be the opposite of what I’ve been doing for XYZ that just might work?

From there, you can explore some bigger and bolder questions:

  1. What do I want my life to be about?
  2. How can I use more of my strengths in more of my life?
  3. How can I help people in ways that are uniquely me and inspire me?
  4. What’s one way I can start showing up differently that would change my life?
  5. What are my greatest hopes, dreams, and aspirations on my backburner that I can make front and center?

If you really get stuck, then remember this advice from Dr. Seuss:

“Think left and think right and think low and think high.
Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!”

Also, keep in mind that your brain feeds on inspiration and ideas.   When you explore Ted Talks, The Teaching Company, Kickstarter, and other sites that push the envelope, you’ll have more kindling for your fire.

Lastly, keep in mind that when you combine Power Hours + Creative Hours, you lay the foundation for the Productive Artist in you to shine.

Unleash Your Productive Artist Within

When you combine Power Hours + Creative Hours, not only will you be unleashing The Productive Artist in you, but you will also be creating a new model for working that will take your experiences, talents, and abilities to a new level of self-expression.

You will set your productivity on fire, catch more bursts of brilliance, create more breakthroughs, and generate new value at a whole new level.

Here’s to your greatness, and your fire within.

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