We’ve all been there. Watching an amazing movie, listening to an incredible album of songs with closed eyes and headphones, wandering through a gallery admiring the paintings adorning the walls and the three-dimensional work atop plinths and pedestals. We knew what time we watching or listening started, but do we ever truly know what time it is when we emerge from the darken cinema, open our eyes to take in the light after listening to sublime audio or stepping outside from the gallery?
We lose track of time. Why? Because we were in awe. The wonder of the moments seemed to suspend time for us and we truly lose track of time and reality. Creativity has this type of impact upon us. Great creative experiences hold us in rapture, whether we are the creator or the receiver, both positions defer our liability to pay now. We can buy now. Creativity gives us credit. Not in monetary terms but in time. Even Einstein’s own theory of Relativity aligns with the notion that time moves differently to different people to their relevant speed.
Jeffrey Davis in this great article refers to this concept as flow. Not only do we lose track of time, but time seems to expand. It is in these moments when our thinking is clearest. We have clarity. I often experience it when I’m writing my blogs. I can be focused on a specific train of thought and the words are flowing (there’s that word again) so easily that when I think I’ve only been typing for 10 minutes it is actually more like two hours. Many other artists, scientists, etc speak of similar feelings. They are so engrossed in their work that they do literally lose sense of time.
The concept of becoming engrossed and losing a sense of time aligns directly with my previous blog on creativity in business. Business does not function well in states of wonder and/or awe and yet it is creativity that creates great businesses. There are too many businesses whose successful business model is solely based on creativity; Apple, Virgin, Amazon to name a few. If these guys didn’t allow their designers to create wonder they would be very different businesses indeed. These guys have the balance right.
Unfortunately, the design process specifically around modern business is still one that doesn’t allow for employees to get ‘lost in the moment’ or ‘create wonder’ or ‘stand in awe’ at creative options. Modern businesses (with exception of those above and others of their ilk) operate on very tight budgets, tight timelines and by osmosis therefore limit creativity. Creativity takes time. Creating awe(takes)some time. And perhaps the greatest misnomer of all, is that time cannot be bought or expanded through increased budgets or expenditure.
Time in the moment, time spent in the creative moment, is when time is most effectively spent. It is by no means efficiently spent, but taking time to be creative almost guarantees awe and wonder. To create means to make something generally from nothing otherwise we are simply adapting or adopting, not creating. Adapting and adopting is efficient but creating is effective.
We need to shape our time, use it wisely and the most wise option is to lose all sense of it. To create time…to create.