Plans require execution if they are to be realized - one needs to be industrious and occasionally be willing to work long hours. Ideas and creativity exist in a non-physical realm and work by a different set of rules though. People who put long hours in may push a lot of work out, but you will find they seldom produce original work - a fatigued mind isn't conducive to creativity.
There comes a point where thinking 'harder' about something doesn't produce anything new because when you try to think hard you merely think deeper along the same limited lines. Often you need to take your brain away from the coalface and let it cool off before it can be creative.
Periodically taking a full day or longer to unplug and indulge higher order thinking will see a rise in new perspectives and fruitful ideas. EBay's president John Donahue shared his view: "In today’s 24/7 work culture, I believe the notion that business leaders need to be connected warriors every day of the year is mistaken. I am very connected 50 weeks of the year, but I try to completely disconnect for 2 weeks.
"I admit that the process of cutting off from email and the internet is frequently stressful in the beginning, but it quickly becomes a very liberating experience. Without a constant barrage of work issues to respond to, I find that my mind calms down and my intuition begins to come alive. I am able to see things through a more creative lens and new ideas often emerge from my ‘time off’."
A creative day is not quite the same as a day off: it's a deliberate process where you lay the platform your brain needs to be inventive. At the beginning of such a day (or the night before), write your key objectives down: it could be a problem that needs solving or something you're looking to create, like a song, movie or book. Keep them simple and few in number. Once listed have a brief look at your objectives then put them aside. You need to direct your creative energy and objectives serve to provide this direction.
Thereafter, how do you spend this creative day? By meditating, sitting still, walking around and doing mundane, undemanding tasks. You can even go for a drive, as long as you keep the radio off. The idea is to withdraw your mind from the usual cacophony it deals with: email, music, television, ringing phones, noisy open plan offices and demands from other people. Give yourself less to do and react to. Ideas start to flow when you give your mind breathing space. As useful thoughts come to you, immediately write them down on the same page that you listed your objectives, because it's very easy to forget an idea or insight.
In the interests of maximizing effectiveness there are some basic disciplines you should observe:
• Ensure you're well rested
• Keep your home quiet - have every electronic contraption except your refrigerator and stove switched off. Have your phone on but switch off all instant message alerts
• If you use a computer or tablet for something like writing or note taking then keep your Internet connection off - no browsing the Internet unless it's for research directly attributable to your objectives
During the course of this day it's okay to occasionally get distracted or feel restless. If this happens, go for a walk or take a small nap but don't switch the television on or log on to the Internet. Music is a gray area but it's preferable not to engage it. While music can feel soothing it also stimulates the mind, and before you know it your mind becomes a swirling pool of uncorrelated thoughts again. As long as your objectives are clear and mind unfettered, the ideas will come forth without much effort. Stillness begets creativity.