Is busyness killing creativity?

wazoku Blog 2 Comments

If you find yourself constantly multitasking – jumping from your phone, to your email, to social media? Turns out that you’re not the only one.


Many of us interrupt whatever we are doing to check our phones, even if we are not expecting any urgent communication or have any objective need to. Modern man seems to have embarked on a spiral of busyness. We all seem to think that if we’re not busy, surely something must be seriously wrong and feel like social pariahs. This constant activity can have serious consequences in personal and work life, as constantly checking your phone when you’re with other people is not only a bit rude, but also can make you stressed.

On the outside it might feel that we are being very productive as you are doing a handful of things all at the same time. The reality is, you’re not. You are doing one thing while already thinking of the next one and, as a result, your attention isn’t focused on any of them. How can you go about changing this? For starters, get rid of all the noise. Not all emails are urgent and some you don’t even really need, so unsubscribe from all of those useless mailing lists. Then, you will need to learn to spend some time without distractions. Sounds boring, right?

As noted in the paper “Doing Nothing and Nothing to Do: The Hidden Value of Empty Time and Boredom”, boredom can actually lead to creativity and spark the imagination. According to a recent study by psychologists at the universities of Virginia and Harvard found that “when left to sit by themselves for fifteen minutes with no ‘distractions’ apart from a machine to deliver electric shocks a massive two thirds of men and a quarter of women chose the electricity over unadulterated solitude.” This doesn’t bode well for creativity, does it? We need to allow ourselves more down time and learn how to disconnect every now and then, for creativity’s sake!

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Comments 2

  1. This brief blog article is spot on. Modern workplaces are suffering from a cultural blight: workforces no longer able to distinguish between that which constitutes effective communication, and that which is simply throwing fuel onto the fire of the world of ineffective email use.

    There is no question of the benefits of electronic communication. It is capable of transcending geographical and temporal boundaries with the same transformational vigour as the invention of telecommunications. However, we have gone too far. The proliferation of ever more accessible and portable devices capable of transmission and receipt of information is leading many of us to sleepwalk into an era of dependency on electronics as a replacement for genuine human to human communication.

    An exercise recently advocated to me by a wise Norwegian was to simply ignore or better still delete backlogs of emails. Whilst a daunting and arguably dangerous recommendation in some contexts, one can see that does have its merits. There is a direct link between feelings of stress and anxiety and that sinking feeling you get when you see another fifty emails added to your inbox which you will simply never have the time to read unless you sacrifice your own creative time and space.

    I think we should all go one step further in pursuit of redressing the imbalance between work and life; or indeed creativity and sheer overworked hopelessness. We should all be switching off every once in a while. The Germans are already leading by example by suggesting closing down email servers outside of office hours, thus limiting the ability of workers to continue being embroiled in work related issues when they should be recharging their bodies and minds.

    1. Post

      Thank you for your comments, you also add some really good points. It will be interesting to see the evolution of this situation, will we ever learn how to switch off every now and then?

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