Do you have a harder time concentrating these days because of distractions? Does it take a greater effort to make time to read, research, write and get things done? Is keeping to a long-term plan tough in the midst of an over-stimulated day?
As a creator, you don't have time to waste. So how do you plan your day, your month, your career so that you can do your best work and be your most creative — and continue on an upward career trajectory?
Do you have a special place that inspires you? Do you have a Creativity Chamber? Do you have your “Key Rules” hanging on the wall?
I find inspiration in the organizing abilities of other creators. One is Chris Martin, the front man for the band Coldplay. Last year, he was featured on CBS' 60 Minutes. Correspondent Steve Kroft brought us into Coldplay's Creativity Chamber and actually found Key Rules on a sheet of paper taped to the wall.
Here's the dialogue that accompanied that image:
Kroft: Like many artists, [Martin] is openly, gloriously neurotic.
Martin: Then we have all our rules here. We've got our rules, so you can't have more than 42 minutes. These are just things you just have to remind yourselves of all the time. The rules are important. See, look at rule number six, not many interviews. That's a rule.
Kroft: (reading aloud) Always keep mystery.
Martin: (laughing) Always keep mystery. I feel like I am showing you my underpants. This is private stuff.
Martin was breaking one of his key rules. He didn't hide his regrets either. But it was too late. I hit the pause button on my VCR and began to type out all the rules.
Here's his private stuff, as Martin wrote it:
1. ALBUMS MUST BE NO LONGER THAN 42 MINUTES, OR 9 TRACKS.
2. PRODUCTION MUST BE AMAZING, RICH, BUT WITH SPACE, NOT OVERLAYERED. LESS TRACKS, MORE QUALITY. GROOVE AND SWING Drums/rhythm are the most crucial thing to concentrate on; diff. between bittersweet and science of silence.
3. COMPUTERS ARE INSTRUMENTS, NOT RECORDING AIDS.
4. IMAGERY MUST BE CLASSIC. COLOURFUL AND DIFFERENT, COME BACK IN GLORIOUS TECHNICOLOUR.
5. MAKE SURE VIDEOS AND PICTURES ARE GREAT BEFORE RELEASE DATE. And highly original.
6. ALWAYS KEEP MYSTERY. Not many interviews.
7. GROOVE AND SWING. RHYTHMS AND SOUNDS MUST BE AS ORIGINAL AS POSSIBLE. Once jon has melody, twist it and weird it sonical.
8. Promo/review copies to be on VINYL. Stops copying problem, sounds and looks better.
9. Jaqueline Sabriado, no p c c, face forward
10. Think about what to do with charity account. Set up something small but really enabling and constructive.
Do you have KEY RULES hanging in your Creativity Chamber?
Do they ensure, as Martin's do, that in the midst of daily craziness, you still target precision, amazement, originality, mystery and constructive engagement as your overall focus points — beyond your daily deadlines?
It's tough. Tougher than ever because of high-tech distractions around us. But a tune-up of your Creativity Chamber with your own Key Rules may help you reset.
And if you'd like to watch the segment, do an Internet search for “CBS 60 Minutes A Look at The Mystery of Coldplay” and watch the video. Key rules is at 7:18. Or visit a shortcut at http://bit.ly/CBSColdplay.
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This story originally appeared on speaker.org and columnists.com. Dave Lieber is The Watchdog columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. His favorite Coldplay song is Spies. Makes sense. Visit his Creativity Chamber at watchdognation.com and yankeecowboy.com. His new book on protecting yourself won two national book awards for social change.