My Latest Book

Product Details

Also available on,, and other Amazons and bookshops worldwide! 

To Think About . . .
I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. J. K. Rowling
My Other Books

Product Details

Product Details

Product Details

Product Details

Click to order other recommended books.

Find Us on Facebook Badge

Search This Site

Discussion Forum > The tension between creativity and productivity

Ran across this on and thought it interesting enough to post here, since we have many creatives on the forum.

The tension between creativity and productivity

Here's the punchline: "I get more done in less time than I ever have, but sometimes I feel like there’s nothing creative about my work anymore. Sure, I make the doughnuts every day but am not inventing the cronut. How do you accomplish your work but also leave ample time for letting your creative mind off the leash?"

He also links to two interesting essays from people who are rethinking the whole lifehacking GTD mindset.
November 10, 2017 at 22:34 | Unregistered CommenterMike Brown
Interesting article. I will have to read the additional linked articles.

This is exactly the conflict I was running into, that I could find no single system to address. Combining "no list" and "Random RAF" seems to help. I generally work in "no list" mode as long as I can, which supports intuition and creativity and deep engagement. When the day gets fractured, or my attention and energy start to lag, I switch to "Randomizer" or "Random RAF" and just go with whatever it selects. This is usually very productive since resistance is cut to zero and I get lots of the little niggling things finished.

Whenever I am using a hyper-productive method (like Randomizer), I find I start moving so quickly and getting so much done, I don't want to stop and think. I just want to keep charging forward. I do get lots done this way, and clean out a lot of dross, but don't make progress on the things that require deeper attention and thinking.

With no-list, I either tend to go with whatever is most pressing and urgent (which is probably the right thing to do), or with whatever is most creative and engaging.

In practice, Randomizer gets lots of things cleared out and gets the more important, weightier things queued up for consideration.

Alternating between these two methods helps me get both kinds of work done, and aligns well with my different energy levels. They also seem to engage different parts of the brain.

I get the impression that Mark's new system will also try to address the conundrum.
November 11, 2017 at 16:57 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
Also, there is a lot of discussion of this theme in the book <<Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives>> by Tim Harford.

He only briefly touches on productivity but makes a pretty good case for under-optimizing.
November 11, 2017 at 17:02 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
I think you simply need to take time to be creative. Structured thinking comes when you think "what shall I do next", and you look to a list to tell you the answer. Creative thinking comes when you think, "what shall I do next", and you just think until you find an answer you like.

Presently I'm running with a kind of inverse of AF1: Scan each page once only, but the last page repeat as often as you like. And of course you can always think of new things to add to the last page. So if you are on that last page you are free to do anything. (There are a few other things I'm doing different.)

I find this allows me to go deep on a project, and also to be creative like a no-list in chosing next things. Even so, I make a point to stop and just think freely at times. I find I jump back around the full list when I run stuck on choosing a next action.
November 11, 2017 at 18:10 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
Alan Baljeu::

<< So if you are on that last page you are free to do anything.>>

How do you cope when the page is full and you move onto a new page with only one task on it?
November 12, 2017 at 0:17 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
I don't oblige myself to advance to the new page until I'm done with the current page. Also, the phrase "free to do anything" applies in the broadest sense. I am free to look at the previous page.
November 12, 2017 at 20:08 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu