The 5% Creativity Challenge

Take a quick look at your schedule.  Most of us have calendars that are packed to the gills with endless appointments, meetings, conference calls, and deadlines. When, in this insanely-busy schedule, are you planning to come up with your best ideas?

In today’s always-on, 24/7 business world, when are we supposed to generate creative breakthroughs? In-between checking our iPhones, responding to email, and updating our Facebook status?  We’re so busy being “heads down” on our to-do lists, that we fail to spend time being “heads up” to explore the possibilities.

In fact, very few people actually schedule time to think, create, and invent. But those that do are the ones that make history.

One busy executive schedules “Think Weeks” a few times a year. He goes off into seclusion for a week, loaded with reading material and time to explore his creativity. His staff waits with baited breath to hear about his newest ideas for the business. In fact, some of this company’s most important advances originated during these Think Weeks. His name? Bill Gates. His legendary time to think made an indelible mark on Microsoft, and was the source of many of their biggest innovations.

Most of us don’t have the staff and resources to disappear for weeks on end, but we all have the ability to schedule two, one-hour thinking sessions each week (5% of a 40 hour week).

Get away from your desk to a place of inspiration such as an art museum, park, or historic landmark. Turn your phone off and your ideas on. Schedule the time, and treat it with the same importance as any other business meeting. Show up fully, and let your imagination soar.

Scheduling just 5% of your week to reflect, think, and create can yield dramatic results.  I’ve had many individuals and companies try this approach, and here’s what they report:

1. A zero-percent drop in productivity.  Turns out that it’s not that hard to cram 40 hours of tasks into 38 hours after all.

2. A tremendous gift.  It is a gift to the organization, which becomes flooded with new ideas and fresh thinking.  And it’s a gift to the individual, as creativity is one of the most powerful sources of human joy, fulfillment, and renewal.

Give it a try for 30 days. Two-hours-a-week of unplugged, creative exploration. I have a hunch that it will quickly become one of your most important and rewarding habits.

P.S. Please let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear your stories, feedback, and examples.  Can’t wait to hear what you do with your 5% Creativity Challenge!