The greatest misconception about innovation and creativity is that they can be generated on demand. Creativity will never be an item on a pull-down menu you can click to activate when you need it. But that doesn’t mean you should just sit around waiting for a creative impulse.
In a world where a single touch on a screen can bring us any service or product imaginable whenever we want it, creativity still runs at its own pace. It’s the one thing we’ll never be able to get on-demand: the spark of inspiration that puts us into a creative mindset. Even the most brilliant artists and writers don’t decide when they are at their most creative. Rather, they understand the internal and external dynamics that shape their productivity and adjust their processes accordingly.
There are times of the day, outside of our control, when we enter states of being conducive to intense creativity. These are called flow states, famously identified and described by University of Chicago psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Some of us work best early in the morning, while others come up with their greatest ideas late at night. But just because we’re slaves to our own biorhythms when it comes to achieving the perfect innovative state of mind, doesn’t mean we can’t control our own creativity habits.
Here are three things you can do to facilitate and take advantage of your flow states:
Creativity will never be an item on a pull-down menu you can click to activate on-demand–creativity demands you. That doesn’t mean you should just sit around waiting for a creative impulse. You may not be able to control the arrival of your flow state, but you can build your routine around it. This way, when it does come, you’ll be ready for it.
I go more into detail on my blog. You may also want to check out the video below which covers the myth of creativity on demand.
Originally published on Quora.