There is no doubt that as a wider society, we are putting more emphasis on more than ever before. We want to achieve more and take on more things, have more, live more and see more.
The diminishing of real threats and outside pressures that existed for many of those in previous generations have meant our priorities on what is important in life have shifted. It is now easier than ever to compare yourself against others, and with that comes a profound drive to outperform, and a need to do and add more.
The irony of adding more and more, is that most, if not all cases of such ‘adding’, is detracting from the quality of our lives and our effectiveness. This is of course true to creatives. When we can strip away the layers we have added, we give ourselves and others space to breathe once more.
This ‘space’ is what creativity and productivity thrives on. This space is what will give you the edge.
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Leonardo da Vinci
Here are 12 things that can be reduced that will have a positive effect on our creative lives…
1. Present Less
It’s very easy to think that more is better when it comes to presenting your creative work. I’ve seen portfolios that I could look through over days because they’re filled with so many pages of material.
It’s not necessary to feature tons of your creations at once. Make it easier for the prospect and yourself by reducing the range and depth of what you showcase.
You’ll be more memorable if you do, particularly if you can focus on a narrow definition of what you do well.
2. Sell Less
Unnecessary stress often comes from trying to – or feeling the need to – sell our products and services. This is often felt by those who are at the receiving end of your promotions.
The answer to reducing selling?
Connect more, over time.
Make your product valuable, easy to find, easy to use, and have a story. Then selling through connection becomes possible.
3. Fewer calls to action
There’s no denying it. Making decisions is much easier when there are fewer of them. When your intention is for someone to take a particular action, reduce the number of alternative options.
4. Less Stimulation
I’m no scientist, but I confidently believe that over-stimulation is a creativity killer.
When we take in more stimulation than we need, whether that be through various forms of ‘escape’, like television, fatty food, alcohol, masturbation (yes, too much of this, particularly to porn, is not good), sugar, caffeine, and smoking, this is what happens: we build up resistance to ever higher levels of stimulation.
This means that our sensitivity to the world around us decreases in accordance with our dopamine receptors continually getting fried. Take it easy on yourself and you’ll be rewarded with creativity and productivity.
5. Fewer products
Focus on creating fewer, truly awesome and valuable products rather than making more and more and diluting the care you can put into each.
This also applies to what you spend your money on. Buy less stuff, and focus on things of quality. But you knew that already.
6. Say and share less
Withholding information holds tremendous power.
You know how some of the best marketing campaigns behind products actually don’t give all that much away?
This is usually in the run up to some big launch or event in the future. Sometimes ‘ad spots’ for new movies last a few seconds.
Did you notice how that made you feel about that brand or product?
Great ‘marketers’ understand how to make their products irresistible, through withholding, rather than giving more away. The brain needs to fill in gaps if they are there. They know the power of the human imagination, and they know that imagination can do a lot of the legwork in their campaigns.
You can apply this idea to yourself too.
Get the balance right between giving out the right amount of useful information and keeping your secrets, and you could make a big difference to how you are perceived and how much attention you get.
You could create intrigue about your story by not quite giving the full picture, in the way you communicate with prospects, write blog post titles, or communicate your product launches, for example.
7. Less skill
Being a ‘Master of one’ blows ‘Jack of all trades’ out of the water. By all means expand your skillset all the time. But be a master of one, and present yourself as such.
8. Less thought
We often hear of people coming up with ideas when they least expect it.
Those ‘I came up with it in the shower’ moments happen because these are times when thoughts tend to switch off (mainly because we are in a flow-state as a result of doing something that is pre-programmed).
Creativity is about making links between things. This happens best when there aren’t other thoughts present to distract the brain from doing its work.
“Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it.” Dee Hock
[Read more creative quotes on Red Lemon Club]
9. Fewer clients
I say this a lot, but really narrowing your target market will help you in a big way. Know exactly the type of client you want to work with, and focus your efforts on serving them.
Additionally, apply the ‘Pareto Principle’ to the work you have coming in and take a close look at what clients and customers are providing the most, and least business to you.
Focus your efforts on catering to the clients that bring in the most and cut out the rest.
10. Less Internet
Despite its giddying wealth of information, entertainment and sources of inspiration, the Internet is also a massive hazard to your creative and productive lives. This is no understatement.
The winners of today and tomorrow are those that can eke out just enough of what they need from the net without being consumed by it.
Don’t let it consume you.
11. Less eating
I don’t want to alarm you with this one, but I’ve found that eating more, wholesome food, fewer times in the day, with less snacking, frees up time and keeps you operating optimally.
The benefits of breakfast are a myth, though you can choose to eat one of your few meals in the morning if you like. I tend to wait until later in the day to eat, and find my mind works very well when the body is not digesting food. Plus, this ‘intermittent fasting’ is great for staying in shape, saving money, and being productive.
12. Less commuting
If you work somewhere that takes just half an hour to get to, you spend over two hundred hours a year commuting. Obviously many of us have to, and some might actually enjoy it, but look at ways of reducing the hours spent doing so.
Without becoming a hermit, and with the variety of low-cost communication tools available, there are many times when travelling less is the sensible and do-able option.
Clearly many of these are pretty obvious, and I don’t deny that. Hopefully having these listed here like this gives you a little first step in simplifying your life and moving to the next level.
Comments and further suggestions, as always, are welcome. I’d love to hear from you.
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"Your blog inspires me so much, and helps me feel somehow not as insignificant, despite the plethora of artists around the world."Natalie, artist