John Cleese on How to Become More Creative and Productive

John Cleese, a British comedian and actor, believes that creative people need to work in both open and closed environments. The former is for creative thought, and the latter for finishing what you’ve started.

Cleese spoke in a lecture about the open mode. He said that it’s a place where curiosity can operate because there’s no pressure to do something quickly. Play is what allows us to express our creativity.

Cleese is like many creative people. He plays with his problems when it’s time to think differently. Cleese avoids making a decision on what should happen next. Cleese fosters an open environment for his coworkers and himself.

You can work in this mode by putting aside your to-do lists. You must be open to experimentation and play with the absurd. Use questions or statements like:

  • What would happen if …??
  • It would be even more awesome if …?
  • Let’s pretend…
  • Continue reading
  • How could …? be made?
  • Imagine what it would be like if…

Open mode is great for brainstorming, exploratory writing, free writing and mind mapping. This mode is best if you don’t have to meet a deadline or are under pressure to complete a project. Do not judge yourself in this situation. (This can happen later.)

Cleese stated, “While your creativity is flowing, there’s nothing wrong.” There is no mistake, but any drivel could lead to the breakthrough.


Purposeful Creative Work

Feeling open can help you be more creative . Feeling purposeful will help your become more productive. This means that you must be active and able to focus on the task at hand. This is the closed mode, according to Cleese. He stated:

“We feel inside…that there is a lot to do, and that we must get on with it if it’s going to all get done. Although it’s a very active and anxious state, the anxiety can also be fun and exciting.

Creatives should also use the closed mode, especially if they procrastinate or make excuses for late deadlines. When you have to complete a set of tasks within a short deadline, be purposeful. Eliminate as many distractions from your studio as you can to integrate this thought into your creative work.

Turn off the TV, email, and distracting background music. The only thing that matters in closed mode is to ship the work. Now it’s time for you to get to the bottom of your to-do lists.

Do not stop and ask why, or think about your motives. It’s not helpful to think of all the absurd uses of a broken parachute if you’re about jumping out of a plane. Concentrate on landing.

You can break down large projects into smaller pieces. Each of these pieces can be tackled efficiently with limited resources.

Remember that you are responsible for meeting deadlines, completing projects on time, and fulfilling the needs of others. Creatives can balance both to get better ideas and ship projects on time.

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