Category: Creativity

Understanding Idle Time

Harvey Firestone

Time to read: 3 mins

Some of the hardest goals that we set for ourselves are those that are long term.  Long term goals require consistent action, over an extended period of time.  With long term goals the element of time is unavoidable.  In these scenarios time can be used to learn, grow and mature.

In other circumstances time is avoidable, when you are clear on what you want to achieve and the steps that need to be followed; there is no need to wait or procrastinate.

So what can you do with your idle time while you are:

a. Growing, maturing and learning and
b. Waiting and procrastinating

Learn, grow and mature
As I mentioned earlier learning, growing and maturing as a person are associated with long term goals. You might be completing a degree or saving for your first home or training for a marathon. Seeing the end is hard, especially when it is so far away. Imagining what it means to achieve your goals may give you enough motivation and momentum to keep yourself going and stay focused. If you have a long term goal in mind, take some time to think about how:

The small steps you take are leading to-> The lifelong habits  you are developing-> How these habit are needed to  ->  Reach long term goals.

Waiting and procrastination

If we are in the latter (b.) we most likely don’t have clarity on what we have to do (i.e. the next action) and there is a deeper reason why we haven’t taken action (usually around fear), but it hasn’t surfaced.   A combination of the two is used to make up excuses.

The definition of an excuse is: A justification for not doing something; but it’s not a reason, it’s more of a revision of the facts that you use to make yourself feel better.  It’s an alteration of reality.

I recently read The 10x Rule by Grant Cardone and one of my favorite chapters was on excuses.  Everybody has excuses and we all have a few that we employ over and over again.  So rather than ignore them it’s better that you confront right now.

c. Creativity

There is a third way we spend idle time that hasn’t been mentioned up until now.

We need idle time for our mind to be creative, inventive and find solutions to existing problems.

For most of us, when the words ‘solution’, ‘problem’ and even ‘invention’ is mentioned we naturally try to return to a model, or process that exists within our domain. This is not what I am talking about here. In fact, anytime where we are repeating something that we already know; this is not creative.

In its purest form, creative work has no purpose and no outcome; idle time is used to allow your mind to be silent and do nothing. We just need the time and space to let out minds moodle.  Now, few of us have this luxury, because we live in an environment where results, productivity and outcomes are king.  But think about this…

Who has the greatest value on any organisation? The answer is the person with the ideas.
Capital isn’t so important in business, experience isn’t so important, you can get both these things.  What is important is ideas, if you have ideas you have the main assets that you need and there isn’t any limit to what you can do with your business and your life – Harvey Firestone

Understanding how our idle time is spent helps us to identify where our time is being used and what to do. When we are learning, growing and maturing; reflecting upon your goals will help to keep you motivated and focused.

When our time is being wasted on procrastination, identify the next action and drop the excuses to be more productive.

Finally (although it is less understood) allowing our minds the space and silence provides us with an opportunity to generate original ideas and thinking. This act may have greatest value and impact not only in our own lives but the lives of those around us.

Lewis Hamilton, Human Beings & Innovation (they are all connected)


Time to read: 3 mins

Working on Windows 10, I am currently using (and not by choice) Microsoft Edge as my browser. It has a feature whereby every time you open up a new tab, it shows you a news feed. I’m not a formula one racing fan but the title of an article appeared on my news feed that did capture my attention. The article was titled “Lewis Hamilton is ‘very serious’ about a music career”


Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton is a three time formula one championship winner and currently racing for the Mercedes Team, for those of you who have no idea 🙂  By all accounts he is successful in his career and life in general. In the article Lewis revealed his interest in pursuing a career in music.


“It’s got to the point now where it’s very serious. If I am not training; getting ready for a race, I’m here [working on my music]”


After reading the article I was a little perplexed, but then I started to think… Why would he want to pursue a music career when he is already successful and has a well established career in Formula One?

Most of us all have jobs but like Hamilton not all of us are able to create, share and express ourselves freely and in a way that we are comfortable with.


Being Human

As humans all of us have a need to express ourselves, to create something and share it with the world. It’s within all of us but the way we go about it comes out in many different forms. It may come in a form of a simple act like the way we dress, how we do our makeup or the tattoos we have. Sometimes in more obvious and deliberate displays.


When I was growing up my grandmother would work in the garden, come spring time people would walk past and stop to admire the snapdragon flowers in our front yard. My mother makes wedding dresses and my father casually plays the keyboard.


The point I am trying to make is these ‘works of expression’ that we all do are important even if it is a small daily act or (in Hamilton’s case) something as a dramatic as a potential career change. As he describes why he makes music:

“In here, I can be me, I can be vulnerable, I can show a side of me that people don’t get to see”

There is some truth in that with all avenues of creativity that we choose to pursue for ourselves. So why is it that some of us are more comfortable in pursuing avenues and outlets of creativity while others just shy away?


Inhibitors of Creativity

For those of us who have had to really put ourselves out there (sometimes not by choice), initially some of the biggest challenges are those that come from within ourselves.


It’s the concern or worry of what others will think of our work, which cause us to second guess ourselves. The fear of rejection, which freezes us from taking action. It’s conforming to what is expected of us, which changes our approach and ultimately what we deliver. But once we are able to get over such hurdles and work outside of what we considered to be safe; the rewards don’t come instantly but they will come and are worth while in the long term.


Anyone who is able to get past these limiting inhibitors will have a unique mindset. A mindset that provides a source of encouragement to those around them, they are influencers, an asset within the workplace and become drivers for change.

As an example business innovation would not happen without such a mindset.


Innovation within Business

There are some great resources available on business innovation from books, podcasts and MOOC’s . These will give you the 1,2,3 steps of innovation from; how you ask the right questions, identifying new frames, incubating new processes etc.


But because innovation relies on the confidence of your own ideas and your ability to challenge the status quo. How effective you are in the execution of these steps are heavily dependent on your mindset.


The good news is that you are already working on your mindset through daily acts or more elaborate extra curricula activities (examples given earlier), it’s just that we don’t normally associate them with being creative or bold and leading with confidence.


We just need to make the connection.