A few years back, a client shared with me that she had skipped work that morning and gone swimming instead.
There was both enjoyment and shame in her voice. And as she vehemently listed the reasons behind her decision, I could tell that her inner critic was giving her a hard time.
I could fully understand why: we’re programmed to be constantly productive. Taking time off when we’re “supposed to” be working can trigger shame and anxiety.
But I believe that the idea of constant productivity is fundamentally flawed.
Because our work requires creativity. And there are many different phases to the creative process: from inspiration, brainstorming and structuring – to producing, evaluating, and fine-tuning.
Depending on the creative phase that you find yourself in, you will probably need different types of input, tools, support, and surroundings.
My client had originally planned to do some heavy-duty writing that morning. So, when she ended up amongst some relaxing waves, she felt guilty.
But as it turned out, those waves gave her inspiration and a moment to brainstorm. Which in turn opened her up for that next creative phase, allowing her to write (produce) with both flow and focus.
Getting to know your creative process is important, because it makes it easier to give yourself what you need, without feeling ashamed of what you are or aren’t doing.
That is how you create flow and ease of work. And there’s nothing shameful about that.
PS. If you don’t know what your creative process looks like, you can think of a recent project that you have completed. List the different phases that were involved (like research, mindmapping, content creation…) and what you needed during each of them. For your next project, use that input to plan your project. And follow your body’s signals during the process.