Amazing things you can do in 20 minutes

I keep on exploring the relation between constraints and creativity. It is widely known that for creativity to happen you actually need some constraints or limits, a particular framework — that gives you a start and sets the rules. Creativity happens when one tries to do something within that framework with the limited resources at hand. Somehow the abundance of things limits the creativity — the energy is being spend on deciding what materials to use and how to use them and so forth. But if all you have is a pencil and a prompt things start to happen.

Another thing I’m interested in exploring is the relation between how busy we are and the need of breaks. The more busy one is, more breaks they should take. It helps to maintain the focus and actually to go withing the chosen direction and not to lose track and become reactive in what one does.

All it takes actually is a 10 to 20 minute break. It is somehow not that easy to implement it. But it is extremely rewarding. I have written earlier about the wonders of a 20 minute walk, when you need to switch between the tasks you’re doing and get your thoughts in some kind of order. I still do those, but when the weather is not so cooperative, I started to think, what can I do while being inside. Lately I got really fascinated by making collages, but for a proper one you need some time. Made one for our conference as well:

However, I decided to try out a time limited collage. More of a photomontage approach — just combine two or more photographs by cutting them up from old magazines or newspapers and joining them together in a new unreal subject.

First of all — they are super fun! And yes, you don’t need to spend more than 10 minutes on looking through one paper, cutting out a few things and gluing them to a piece of paper or inside a notebook. But it is a great experience. Because those 10 minutes you are both concentrated on the task, but at the same time relaxed and you are doing something completely different, which is the main point of it — to give yourself a break from whatever you’ve been doing and to start something new after that with a fresher eye and mind.

And today in our Rediscovering yourself group we did a 25 minute exercise that combined different aspects of our personal time perspective — we have been very concentrated on drawing spirals, but at the same time I was aiming at creating a relaxing atmosphere with some music and guiding where the attention should go in the body — in attempt to extend the present, then we traveled in time and through our memories, listed 10 and picked one. We also learned to notice all the small details in such mental images and after that in 8 minutes we wrote a short story about it. All of those things, just in 25 minutes! It’s truly amazing what we are capable of! When we have a structure, a particular framework and limits — amazing creative things happen!

It’s a pity I didn’t take a photo of those wonderful spirals that participants made — all of them were very very different, although everyone got the same instruction! Well, next time! :)

The challenge is however, how to remember to take such a break? How to incorporate it into own routine? The usual problem — we all know the benefits of doing such things, but how to actually start doing them when we are all super super busy and don’t have the mental capacity to plan yet another activity, to remember yet another thing to do? I don’t have the answer yet, but I will keep on trying out.

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