Sustainable creativity

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A couple of days ago, I was approached to review a new book by journalist Dan Matthews, The New Rules of Business (I’ll be posting it on Amazon in a couple of days). The book presents the stories of 36 entrepreneurs: some leading lights, others who haven’t been quite as successful. This morning, I read Matthews’ interview with Mark Constantine, the founder of Lush cosmetics – the bath product people whose powerfully scented shop in Gloucester induced an asthma attack in a friend of mine. (And she was just passing by, rather than actually in the store.)

Constantine argues that running a business is akin to their credo of being ‘green’ – cutting costs, eliminating waste, dropping energy bills, reducing packaging and insulating buildings. “All those things have an impact on the bottom line as well as the world around us.”

It occurred to me that maybe creative people need to think ‘green’ too. To be sustainably and consistently creative, we could adopt the same golden rules.

Cutting Costs: what costs to your creativity could you cut out of your day? What time wasting activities could you profitably lose? Endless meetings? Twitter? Facebook? TV? If you could recoup just an extra 30 minutes or an hour, what creative progress could you make in that short time?

Eliminating waste: what ideas can you recycle? What pieces have you written that you could revisit and re-use in a different context? What ideas could you re-fashion to use again in a different setting or organisation? Maximise each piece of work to squeeze every last drop of goodness out of it.

Dropping energy bills: what activities cost you the most in terms of your energy for the least reward? What ‘busywork’ distracts you from the really important stuff, leaving you too tired to really focus? Work out what actually matters and expend your energy wisely. There is only one of you, and everyone gets 24 hours in a day.

Reducing packaging: what do you really need to do your best work? A fancy office? The latest pc/camera/pens? Aim to travel light with the simplest of tools . What is the minimum you can work with? Reducing your packaging will simplify life, stop you procrastinating until you find the perfect gadget and ultimately make you more productive than all the bells and whistles money can buy.

Insulating buildings: to me, this is about protecting your creative thinking or doing space so that you don’t let imaginative heat escape into the time and energy-wasting ether. Find the thickest insulation you can to prevent that heat seeping out into the minutes and hours of each day. When you’re 90 or so, you’ll be really glad you did.

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2 thoughts on “Sustainable creativity

  1. oooh! i like the new look, sue 🙂
    and i really like this post!
    also, i’ve been thinking and researching a lot about doing a art course… and i think i’m going to do what you suggested – go with the oca… it’ll take longer to save up for, but i put the units to a qualification, if that’s what i decide to do…
    so thanks for suggesting it 🙂
    hope you and yours are well… we’re hoping to move next tuesday (17th), so wish us luck………

    • idcoach

      Glad you like the new look blog, Claire and delighted that you’ve decided to do the course! Hope it provides all the inspiration you need to keep up the creativity. Good luck with the house move and keep those pencils in a safe place 😉

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