Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could call up your genius whenever you needed it? Hey, Genius! Help me out with writing this article, please.
What would be even more amazing is if Genius would come running whenever you issued this command.
But Genius runs on her own time and has a pretty smart mouth. My Genius lets me know who is boss:
- I'm tired. Leave me alone.
- You really should have used me when I was in better form. You know … like 6:00 a.m. That's my power hour.
- Are you kidding me? You spend the last four hours doing diddly-squat and now you expect me to drop everything and run to your rescue?
- Hey, lady! I worked hard for you today. I'm entitled to stupid time.
Stupid time. That’s what I call the hours when my brain can’t make sense out of words or come up with a single creative idea.
I imagine Genius is taking a hike, sweating it out at hot yoga, or gulping down a green smoothie. You know, because Genius is Genius. She doesn’t need naps. She only needs to refuel.
Whatever happened to Genius, I’m left alone to endure stupid time.
And then there is someone else's time. This becomes an issue when your significant other is watching television, which is within earshot of your studio or office; the guy in the next office is talking REALLY LOUD; or your kids are running around the house. It’s someone else's time, not your time, and all you can think about is that you want to be alone. Right. Now.
Stupid time and someone else's time are different from downtime, which is usually required for maximum creativity. You don’t have to do anything during downtime. Vegging in front of the television, watching people at the park, or reading a trashy novel are perfectly legitimate ways to spend the downtime you’ve earned.
The most frustrating part about both stupid time and someone else's time is that you really want to get something done and it’s just not happening. No matter how long you stare at that blank canvas or empty document, Genius doesn’t reappear. (This time she’s probably showing off her abs at CrossFit.)
Genius is stubborn. She’ll show up when you’re ready to receive her, not necessarily when you think you’re ready. [Tweet this]
Rather than getting frustrated by starting and stopping … and starting and stopping … give in to the moment and use the time as best you can.
Here are 21 mindless, but productive, things to do when you find yourself in this state. This is your go-to list when you can’t seem to tackle the high-value tasks on your to-dos.
Low brainpower is a terrific time to look up stuff on the Internet. You might:
- Research a trip that you’ve wanted to take. Cuba, anyone?
- Search for venues in a nearby metropolitan area and block out a date to visit.
- Look up collectors. Start with those who have things named for them at the museum.
- Google gallerists and curators and get up to speed on their life stories.
Organize Your Computer
My all-time favorite mindless task is cleaning up my e-life. You could:
- Delete or archive documents.
- Consolidate file folders.
- Remove programs you no longer use.
- Clean out your inbox.
- Spiff up your computer desktop.
I killed some time on a train trip last fall cleaning up my digital photos. If you’re like me, your photos could always use a little T.L.C. Consider the following:
- Establish (finally) a titling convention for your images.
- Delete images that are duplicates or that aren’t up to par.
- Tag and add keywords to images.
- Consolidate photo files.
- Add credit lines and meta data to images.
Send Some Love On Social Media
You might be stealing time away from Genius by working on these mindless tasks. Let’s face it – you don’t have to summon Einstein to do this kind of work. Save these things for low-energy moments:
- Hop on Instagram and like a few photos.
- Leave a few intelligent comments on Facebook posts from people you want to stay connected with.
- Respond to a handful of tweets on Twitter.
- Reply to comments on your Pinterest boards.
Oh, boy, this is going to feel great. Finally! You’re going to get rid of all this weight:
- Go through paper files and fill up your recycling bin.
- Ditto for any magazine or newspaper piles.
- File receipts and other financial info.
I hope that you honor Genius’s powers by using your time with her for your highest value tasks. The mindless stuff can wait until Genius takes a hike, and you’ll still be productive.
What will you do first when she steps away?