Don’t Just “Save Time,” USE It: Here’s How

Good stuff here. For reals:

11 Riffs on Creativity & Time – by Jeffrey Davis

Most creative people with whom I work and study – scientists, authors, designers, entrepreneurs, marketers, teachers – find their optimal mix between messy chaos and creative order in their work life.  Almost without fail, their chief complaints revolve around time – not enough of it or not sure what to do with it. Instead of managing time, sculpting time seems to me a useful reframe for creatives. I offer 11 riffs on sculpting time here.


In 1944, Miklos Radnoti knew the Nazis would shoot him and the other Jews marching across Hungary any day, any hour. When his wife later had his body exhumed from a mass grave, they would find a notebook of poems tucked in his field jacket’s pocket. Somehow, he stealthed out a pen, the sound of gunfire rattling like bones, and wrote a series of poems.

Radnoti’s persistence is a haunting reminder of my mortality, of this odyssey’s limited time.

The pressure of time, the fact of mortality, the real dead line, compels me to create, and to create with awareness and intention.


All of us creatives tango with time. Most creatives cannot wait until their kids go off to college or until retirement or until divorce or until they quit a job to begin their real work. Gratified creatives with packed lives create before the family gets up or in “pockets of time” – on the subway or in the forty-eight minutes between when their children have fallen asleep and before they themselves fall asleep.

One way or another, we’d be wise to make peace with time, stop fighting it, and avoid bemoaning its scarcity. There’s plenty of time to be had, it turns out, and if we can’t change the way chronological time works, then we can change the way we work with it.

Instead of managing time like some begrudged worker, we can shape it. Think of yourself as a potter more than a manager. Something not to save or waste but to sculpt.

To show up and shape time as a creative has less to do with calendars and more to do with loving the mind. And the body.

Creativity is not about waiting for the muse – despite Elizabeth Gilbert’s charming spin on the Greek muse (I’ve written about the “M” word for Creatives elsewhere).

Creativity is about showing up and shaping time for the muse.


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Yep, this is good stuff. If only we could get organized enough to read it….

2 thoughts on “Don’t Just “Save Time,” USE It: Here’s How”

  1. For those many who already dislike my comments I add one more: If you’re creative, I mean “really creative”, you don’t divide your time to do chores that must be done, in order to get to your “creative time”. The higher force inside you doesn’t give you that choice. You simply “create” first, and put everything else aside. And I do mean “everything”. gs

  2. I always read these articles with hope that I will finally learn the magic secret to time management. Then they always end up at some point suggesting you make lists and organize yourself and your time and plan out your week…I don’t work that way. I know my life would be easier if I did. I guess I operate on the chaos end of the spectrum. So I guess I’m agreeing with you, gs. You just write.

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