How to Make Time for Creative Time

“Tell me what you think of time, and I shall know what to think of you.”

If the Earth had formed at midnight and the present moment is the next midnight, 24 hours later, modern humans have been around since 11:59:59pm — just precisely 1 second. Consider the creation of our universe, our galaxy, our planet — and all of what flourishes from nucleus to neuron — and the realisation is that time is the only true measure of existence — and of the life we know.

It may explain why, through the course of history, wars have been fought over the establishments of legacy, and capital has been poured into the quest for immortality. If the existence of civilisation was compressed into 24 hours, from one midnight to the next, 14 minutes represents the time since Christ. Considering we had only existed for less than14 minutes in a time-scale where the existence of civilisation is in 24 hours, perhaps the perpetual hurry to conquer time has always been encoded in our genome. Which is why economics rewards efficiency, and why we perpetually seem to be in a rush — to save time, be on time, and compress time to kill time.

Time may be of essence in many cases. But can time really be the true measure of organisation and creation?

Time is needed to hone our intuition, and form the disparate experiences in our time-scale. Creativity is when we are able to thread up our varied experiences in a different way- and when you turn the back of the tapestry over, you can see the art of your creation — the colours, the texture, and the patterns that make a tapestry a beauty.

Time is the very essence of creativity, where a Creation is a function of Creativity and Intuition.

The subject of the tension between speed and creativity has weighed on me for a while now as I embrace a life of entrepreneurship — where I wrestle with the idea of quality over quantity, and a balance of economics over artistry. Where time, no matter how precious, must be given for reflection, rumination, and threading the tapestry differently. Only then can the culture of creativity be fostered meaningfully — in a way that no incubator, creative space or startup accelerator can imitate, but only encourage.

This is why I am re-evaluating my relationship with time — and specifically, creative time — to be a better leader and entrepreneur. There have been countless accounts of business leaders who have subscribed to the re-evaluation of time — be it 4am wake-up calls (Tim Cook) to run and reflect, or walking meetings (Jack Dorsey) and reading voraciously (Bill Gates).

Whether it is to counter the malaise of busyness, or imbibe some time for reflection and rumination — the next step is to make “creative time” a reality.

Assuming we are awake for 16 hours across 24 hours, we have about 1,000 minutes in a day for all the activities we do.

We can further split down the 1,000 minutes to 10-minute blocks, which gives us over 100 10-minute blocks to play with every single day.

If we put this into perspective, let’s assume that;

  • 50 10-minute blocks are for work (that’s about 8 hours)
  • 30 10-minute blocks for eating, running errands, or exercise (that’s about 5 hours)
  • We will have about 20 10-minute blocks for some creative time every single day

Of course, this will require some remarkable discipline to unplug and switch off from work.

Over the course of a month, I have varied from 10 to 15 10-minute blocks each day for me to read / walk / ruminate, and it has helped my mental clarity by leaps and bounds.

In Stargazing: Memoirs of a Young Lighthouse Keeper, Peter Hill’s contemplation of time and space is often at the forefront of my mind.

“Then stare at the sky and contemplate the vastness of the universe. Gradually you turn into a lighthouse keeper. But take your time, for time is precious.”

It’s time for us to take our time — specifically, it is time for creative time.