Some Unusual Secrets of Creativity

Posted by | May 24, 2012

Recent research is offering some new ideas to unleashing our creative potential that run counter to the usual practiced approaches.  If you are looking to unleash your inner Picasso, and you find yourself stuck in replication and the mundane, you may want to try a new approach and plan ahead.

OK, we know planning ahead may sound like the exact opposite of being creative, but improving time management can fuel creativity.  It works like this:  Stress and time pressure, up to a certain point, increase performance. However, after a certain point too much pressure stifles performance.  The result is a curvilinear effect, in which time pressure is fine up to a certain point, and then it has negative returns on creativity - especially over the long-term.

For example, in a sample of 9000 daily diary entries in which people were in creative jobs, time pressure generally had a negative effect on creativity. However, the context of the pressure is important. If people feel they are on a mission and are inspired, then this time pressure can add to creativity. Conversely, if we jump from crises to crises, constantly putting out fires, then this time pressure is likely to stifle creativity.

Time management has not received much attention in studies of creativity until recently. Leonidas Zampetakis’ recent paper "On the relationship between creativity and time management" published in Thinking Skills and Creativity Journal has shed light on the issue. Zampetakis and his team studied students and found that indeed time management behaviors (either daily planning or long range planning) are relevant to creativity. The study implies that planning daily activities, prioritizing them, and having confidence in long range planning are more relevant to the production of novel and useful ideas.  In other words, the results suggest that time management behaviors may be necessary for the effective exploitation of creative ideas.


Zampetakis, L.A. Bouranta, N. & Moustakis, V. (2010). On the relationship between individual creativity and time management. Thinking Skills and Creativity, Vol. 5 (1), pp.23-32.