Using Lists To Prioritise Creativity In Your Diary

using lists to prioritise creativity

Your Creativity and the Daily Grind

You sit down to write.

Your hand waits tentatively searching for that perfect word. The perfect word to compliment the writing idea that finally birthed itself inside your grey matter last night.

A Facebook alert pops up on your phone. The washing machine ends its cycle. The bathroom is still messy from the morning’s showers and the basin is lined with the scum of his shaving cream. A Twitter push notification comes through. You’ve managed to stay away from email all weekend but you know that 43 messages are waiting there. All vying for your attention. You console your harried soul with the fact that most of those 43 messages are notifications and can be deleted almost without a glance. You try not to let the 43 that keeps glaring at your from the screen bother you. It is a just a number after all, right? Just a number.

You check the Facebook message and realise with a certain sense of guilt that you should be writing. You close the tab on your computer.

Attention back at the page, you write a sentence.

The doorbell rings. It’s the postman: the one with the rugged stubble all over his face and the very broad shoulders. He reminds you of the guy in your favourite series, the one you feel terribly distracted by most days. He holds out the monthly delivery from Amazon and the Coffee Masters six weekly coffee bean delivery. You can’t resist opening the packet. That’s the whole purpose of the bean delivery: to suprise and delight you with the secret contents of the packet.

You return, not to the page, but to the moka pot. You breathe deeply the aroma of the Kenyan beans that have been roasted with care.

You can’t let the washing lie wet in the machine and the next load is waiting so you empty out the machine, put the next load on and head upstairs to hang the wet garments over the clothes horse.

Your mom-in-law sends a message, the same one she has been sending every day for the past 30 days, the only difference from day to day is that the number of sleeps until you arrive back home reduces. You hold your tongue, pretending that 30 sleeps dwindling down to 15, 12, 9 is not a ticking time bomb in your head. She loves you after all. You make a mental note to never put that kind of pressure on your daughter-in-law one day.

Steaming coffee cup in hand you’re finally back at the page. You write three sentences, glance at the clock as a text message comes in and loudly announces itself on your mobile. You’ve got 20 minutes before you have to pick up your three year old from day care.

You write furiously … the clock exchanging places with your mother-in-law as the ticking time bomb.

Full stop. Car keys. Lock the door. Fasten the seat belt and open the gate. Pick up the kids. It’s all go.

Tomorrow will be no different.

Solutions For Prioritising Creativity

Deep down you know that this kind of collaboration kills creativity. You’re collaborating with your life, with your technology, with everyone’s demands. Question is: are you truly collaborating with your own creativity?

You know the answers. Let’s be honest: you aren’t.

Unless of course you arm yourself with some very useful tools to really get things done without the interruptions.

The 5 Rules For Prioritising Creativity

A few rules to being creative on a consistent basis with productive outcomes:

1. Get a list app like Wunderlist to help you really focus on what is most important for today.

2. Use a master list. It is one list, that you always have with you, that is not prioritised or dated in any way. It acts as a place to do all your brain dumping.

3. Make time to create a weekly list from your master list. I suggest Sunday night for this so that you go to bed with an action plan for the week brewing in your mind. You’re ready to go the minute your eyes open on Monday morning.

4. Prioritise your creativity for early morning every day of the week. Your brain is fresh and the very best of you shows up at the place of creation.

5. Wash. Repeat. Every week. And definitely don’t forget your artist dates.

Post by Claire Burge, author of Spin: Taking Your Creativity to the Nth Degree.

For more on creativity, you might enjoy our recent book club discussion of Spin.


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  1. says

    The perfect word

    is not on the page.
    You deleted it

    in a cycle of guilt,
    and it has stayed

    away all weekend.
    The doorbell distracted

    you, the postman
    terribly so — his hand

    on the delivery packet
    vying to console —

    and you, harried, let
    the grey matter go.

    You can’t but you do,
    pretending it’s all mental.

    You empty out, furiously
    breathe in the aroma

    of love on your tongue.
    Sunday kills your creativity.

    You lie down to focus,
    know deep down that

    the last night is the best.
    The pressure never ends.

  2. says

    making lists
    is my hobby but, listen,

    i’m as good
    and even better

    than most of the well-known
    professional list makers.

    i can make a list just
    about anywhere. get

    me? i can, for sure,
    even make one on your

    back while on a bicycle
    built for two.


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