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January 17, 2013

The often overlooked equation of creativity

creative procrastination - leonardo da vinci

The psychological world is filled with theories on how’s and what’s of procrastination. Generally, it is compared with inaction. Procrastinators are people who do everything but what they are supposed to do. They are considered irresponsible and often discouraged for not begin creative enough.

As I see it, one such human was born on 15 April, 1542. He was an avid procrastinator and yet he was a painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer. Oh, and also painted the famous Mona Lisa.

This amazing guy was Leonardo Da Vinci himself. No more than 15 of his paintings survive today in the world, mostly because of his frequent disastrous and experimental nature.

And that makes us wonder, how can a guy, with such great thoughtfulness and abilities would ever get stuck working? Well, the fact is, it was his procrastination that actually led him to create all the stuff he imagined.

If you ponder a little more, you’ll discover that procrastination is linked with imagination. People who use imagination or are addicted to it are avid procrastinators, me included.

And we imagine all sorts of things, huge and small. A depressed and demotivated person might keep imagining people giving him some respect or how cruel the world around him is. A little motivate one would imagine a good job, a good future, some good reputation.

You can also imagine travelling at the speed of light or billion dollar business ventures. It’s up to you what you imagine.

But, if your mind is driven by imagination, you’ll be forced to procrastinate, because it surely is a tough job to handle a triggered imagination. People who imagine are mostly introverts. They watch their thoughts and ponder upon them, caring less for the happening around.

And if you have ever noticed, you are most creative when you are pushed into boring environments and your mind happens to disagree with your actions.

This overlooked habit is actually the key to creativity. The secret of creativity is imagination mixed with absolute boredom. As your mind will carve for freedom from that environment, creativity will happen by.

In his book, Imagine – How creativity works, Jonah Lehrer talks about how a creative agency invented the famous floor cleaner – Swiffer. They watched almost 1500 hours of videos of women cleaning their kitchen (boring) before they discovered the idea of creating a disposable floor cleaner.

Stop taking procrastination as negative, unless you’re sleeping on the couch all the time you procrastinate. It almost always means you’re on the verge of creativity. You’re about to create something useful.

But, you’ll have to take action. You’ll have to make a way out of that state of mind, just like Leonardo da Vinci did. Almost every time he procrastinated, he triggered his imagination and directed himself toward the best path his mind diverted itself to.

Always remember this equation procrastination + imagination = creativity.