Creative Sweet Spot

I’ve spent a good chunk of my life feeling badly about being a Somewhat Procrastinator. I mean I can definitely put things off like a champ but I don’t always. So, then I counter my guilty feelings with “Well I do get most things done eventually. And usually done well, too.” So is there a problem with putting things off? Or is it okay sometimes? Much to my relief I recently came across this TED Talk, which points out where procrastination actually helps us get things done. Apparently, there’s a bell curve for tackling a project and the high point in creativity is after you’ve put it off for a while - but not too long.

When there’s project to tackle some folks might jump on it immediately to get it done and be ready for the next task. Other folks think that sounds really good but in reality we can’t quite motivate ourselves to even get started, much less finish. And there’s a lot folks in between. Wherever you land on this spectrum of procrastination (none, all, somewhere in between) there may be some benefit in not finishing quick. According the science behind creativity and decision making, there is a high point that happens after you wait a little while, ruminate on it, and let it play out in your head before you complete it.

I’m wondering if the same applies to dispute resolution. Let’s say you’re going through a divorce and you and your soon-to-be ex are having a hard time figuring out what to do about the martial home. You both may have a quick reply for an answer and, assuming you agree, it might be just fine. But what if you disagree and the resolution takes a while to get settled? Sometimes, when we react immediately with our position (We need to sell the house!) we get stuck in that position and because a part of our identity. We’ve said it and now it’s our idea and we feel the need to stick by it. To do otherwise makes us feel weak or we fear the other person will think we’re weak.

But what if both parties didn’t react immediately and rather spent time thinking about all the potential options, with the pros and cons that go along with it before committing to an idea? By doing this, you create a cushion of time that allows you to:

a)      experience the emotions that go along with any major decision

b)      research any factual aspects of the decision

c)      play out a couple of different scenarios and see what those might look and feel like (this is where the creativity comes in)

d)      create an answer that is well thought out and hopefully rational and logical

Try giving yourself permission to pause in the face of decisions. Take a minute to see what you’re feeling and thinking and why. If it’s a big decision and you’ve got some time, try to give yourself intentional time to think it over and see what ideas come to the surface. You might surprise yourself by getting the thing done in a creative way you didn’t know was in you.