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Ludovico De Angelis

From Chaos to Clarity: Balancing Creativity and Problem Solving as a Creative Professional

Published 12 months ago • 3 min read

How to make content while running a business

Running a business is a difficult challenge. Making content on a consistent basis is equally as challenging. But what about doing them in tandem?

It might sound like a masochistic endeavour but as any online business owner will tell you, it’s simply the price you pay for doing online business.

But there’s more to creating videos, writing articles and tweets than just another task on a days task list.

The Creative Energy

Creating content requires engaging a totally different part of the brain.

When we sit down to engage in creation, we begin by pulling on experiences, our view of the world, who we are and what we want to say.

Taking this time to think, write scripts, write articles or even take photographs isn’t just sitting down and attacking another task.

It takes time to reflect and think and consume ideas that resonate with you. And it takes time to even get good at this too.

Creativity is a muscle you build the more you practice.

The Problem Solver Energy

Of course the same can be said with problem-solving too. The more you practice the better you become. And in our society, becoming very good at solving difficult problems brings financial rewards.

We’re incentivised to become good problem-solvers above anything else, earn the financial reward and spend that financial reward on consumer goods. Keeping that economic flywheel spinning nicely.

It’s why the majority of us allow creativity to atrophy as we “grow up” to become good little societal problem solvers - which is the reason many us struggle to engage or reengage in creative projects as adults.

The creative practice has been eclipsed by the problem-solving practice and so becomes much more difficult to start.

And why should we even start? Sticking to the identity of a problem-solver is much easier than the struggle of starting a writing practice or photography practice.

But that does’t mean we shouldn’t.

(And as an online business owner, we don’t have choice anyway.)

The Two Energies

As any creative will tell you, sitting down to create is a daily battle.

Some days nothing happens, some days… magic.

But the professional creative sits down every day to get the work done regardless of how she feels.

A critical part of the process is getting into flow state as soon as possible. The state where you’re not thinking, you’re in the zone and you’re simply allowing things to come to fruition.

And nothing ruins that state more than an interruption.

A Slack message. An email. A phone call.

A client that needs your attention.

If you’ve been a problem-solver, flipping into the problem-solving mode is easy - you’ve been doing it for years.

So you answer the question, delegate the task or defer it until later. You wrap it up and it’s done.

But now you’re totally out of your zone and lost your train of thought for that creative spark. It was difficult enough to get the ball rolling when you started the session but now you have to start it again.

This is where you would say, “Just silence your tech. Use Focus Modes. Wake up early to write, stay up late to edit.” Etc etc.

And you’d be correct. Time blocking and using our tech keep distractions at bay are valid methods to stay focused.

But what if you’re always expecting a message or a phone call anyway?

The Guilt Of Creation

Something I struggle with is the expectation of myself to be “always-reachable” to my clients.

Got a problem? No worries, I’ll answer you right now. Even if it’s to say I’ll sort it out tomorrow.

I’m sure a lot of business owners can relate. Especially in the early-stages where every client matters.

You feel the need to prove yourself and your business by being “better” than the rest.

This “always-reachable” mentality has completely destroyed my ability to take time to create though.

Since I’m always expecting a message to come through, I can never completely allow myself to enter a flow state of creativity.

“But what if it’s 5am and you’re writing on pen and paper? Or processing photographs in a dark room? There’s absolutely no way a message can even reach you in these cases.”

And you’d be right. But if you’re expecting messages then you will to be thinking about work and therefore won’t be present into your creative pursuit.

What to do?

This week, I asked Dakota Robertson on how he manages to balance being a prolific writer while running a ghostwriting agency.

We spoke about the mentality of always expecting client messages when you’re meant to be focused on writing.

His advice was simple: set boundaries with your clients.

Tell them from the start how and when to reach you. Set their expectations and stick to them.

For example, when onboarding a new client you could list out the following rules: - We’ll have a weekly 30min meeting - Emails get responded to in about 6-8 hours - Slack is for emergencies only

The trick is to stick to these rules yourself because if you begin replying to messages instantly - that will set a new precedent and expectations.

The specific rules you lay out will of course depend on what kind of business you run but the underlying point remains: set the expectation early and stick to it.

Knowing your clients expectations around your presence in the business will allow you to fully step away and immerse yourself in whatever video or article you are focused on.

I’ll be trying this out this out with my clients this week and I am genuinely excited to gain a guilt-free creative time into my day.

Ludovico De Angelis

Actionable perspectives for creators | Online business, health and lifestyle.

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