I bought my father one of those wearables this xmas. A Jawbone Up. Whilst I was ‘testing’ that it worked before giving it ...

Flow and forcing creativity


I bought my father one of those wearables this xmas.

A Jawbone Up.

Whilst I was ‘testing’ that it worked before giving it to him I became a bit obsessed with sleep patterns and the infographics it gives you.

You see, I sleep for very long periods.

When I’m not working I’ll easily do 10 hrs, getting up at 11 easily.

The graphs the little wristband gave me showed that most of my sleep was very light.

Around 3hrs of deep sleep per night, despite the many hours of actually being in bed.

My father, however, slept for 5hrs.

Most of which was deep sleep.

There’s little you can do about this, it’s just how your body decides it wants to behave.

You can’t just can’t force yourself to sleep.

If you get up too early you’ll be knackered.

Try to go to bed early and you’ll just lay there.

It’s the rhythm of your body.

Your body clock as it were.

I really believe the same applies to coming up with ideas.

And in this deeply perverse industry we work in - one which seeks to quantify the coming up with ideas.

We apply rules, timelines and budgets to creative projects.

And the cynics are right to say that an idea takes a second to come up with.

Sometimes a good idea just pops right out following a briefing.

Other times it seems to never come.

Like not being able to sleep.

Staring at a blank page is like staring at the ceiling at 3am.

Try as you might, your body won't cooperate.

So, I don’t like my creatives to work like this.

I call it creative flow.

You can see it in teams.

When they have ‘flow’ they have momentum and the brain is easily giving up ideas.

Like having the wind in their sails.

But this only lasts a few hours at most.

You have to be grown up enough to know that when the wind dies down, when the flow stops. You should stop.

So when we say teams have two days to come up with ideas, it’s not two days straight.

It will be bursts of flow interspersed with smaller ‘brainless’ activities.

Going for a walk.




Whatever it takes.

But, also, crucially - If they’re in a flow moment.

We leave them alone. 

Don’t take the wind out of their sails.

Don't desk jump them.

It seems to work.

And, if only we could just get the industry to accept that we should sleep when we want too - we'd be in a better place.


(Written at 3am on a Tuesday night).

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