How to Take Advantage of Distractions for Greater Creativity

Episode 040: The Most Underutilized Resource in Creative Thinking
April 26, 2021
Episode 041: Why You Need to Stop Adding Things to Your Life
May 3, 2021

How to Take Advantage of Distractions for Greater Creativity

We face hundreds of distractions every day. There is no way to escape them completely. We can’t just get up every morning and spend hours thinking silently. 

What are we to do in this world that is full of distractions and clutter, then? 

Take advantage of them. 

Whether you are working amidst noisy kids or blaring email notifications, here are some ideas for how to use those resources and be creative despite all of your distractions:

Utilize the Principle of Constraint

The principle of constraint says that innovation and creative thinking are virtually impossible without some bounded constraints. You need constraints of time, money, or scope to be creative. As the title of my book and podcast suggests, thinking outside the box is a myth. We do much better when we are constrained or inside the box. 

To do so, you have to find opportunities for creativity in the times that are handed to you, even if it’s just a few minutes. For example, let’s say you have 20 minutes before your next meeting is going to start. You have been given a great gift! When you are given that time, instead of just immediately looking at your cell phone or checking your email, use that constrained time to apply an innovation tool.

The Task Unification Tool

One of these tools is the task unification tool. This tool is defined as assigning an additional job to an existing resource. 

You take something in your immediate vicinity (which constrains you to the closed world), grab it, and imagine it doing something other than what it was intended to do. It keeps its original job but now has an additional job. 

For example, let’s say I’m teaching a lesson in a classroom. I give the students an assignment and 15 minutes to work on it. I could use that time to just roam around the room and watch the students work. However, I could also use that time to be creative. I could pull a component out of the classroom and repurpose it in a way that enhances the creative nature of what I’m about to present to the class.

To hear more on making the most of the clutter in your life, listen to the full podcast episode here: Episode 039: No Time? No Problem. Put Clutter to Work for You to Be More Creative.