Do Creative Work First

After a week of vacation, I thought I was ready to get back to work. I was very intentional on unplugging during my time away. I made sure work did not follow me on vacation. My only plan was to do some reading and spend time with my family. Why then was it so hard to get back to work after vacation?

Do creative work first

I felt rested and recharged. I enjoyed my time with my family. Why was my productivity at an all-time low?

For two entire days, work and I were at war.

I was having a difficult time finding the motivation, energy and passion for my work. It wasn’t until I sat down to analyze my problem that I discovered why.

Most of the work waiting for me was “reactive” work.

Reactive work can come over you like a tidal wave. It can snuff out your creativity, drain your energy, and wane your enthusiasm.

Reactive work includes:

  • The loud, nagging task that is not important, but feels urgent
  • Other people’s agendas that are now waiting on you
  • The thing you said “yes” to without thinking of when you were going to do it
  • Emails you cannot delete because they require a thoughtful response
  • Emails that require a decision to be made by you

I decided in that moment of realization I still had the power to choose.

I chose to do creative work first.

Do Creative Work First

Most mornings for me are solely dedicated to daily, creative work. I consider creative work to be anything related to creating value through text, audio, or video. For me this includes blog posts, books, podcasts, and videos for products and courses.

For you, creative work is anything that allows you to be proactive in your work.

You will find incredible momentum when you do creative work when you are the most alive, alert and enthusiastic. I first began to value creative work in the mornings after reading The One Thing by Gary Keller. In the book he likens our willpower to the battery of a smart phone.

Your willpower and creativity has a green light in the morning, but by late afternoon your wiped out and your battery indicator is red. Doing creative work in the morning gives room for your best work.

Do Reactive Work Second

As best you can, push reactive work to the afternoons. Religiously protecting my mornings has been the secret to any success I have achieved.

As mentioned earlier, reactive work can be a combination of people you need to meet or call, to dos that have come to the forefront, business related tasks and email you need to catch up on.

This is the main reason why you shouldn’t start your day in your email inbox. Checking email first thing in the morning sets you down a path of reactive work instead of creative work.

Don’t give into triggers that lead to reactive work first thing in the morning. Instead establish triggers that lead to creative work.

A Word for Side Hustlers

“That’s great Jonathan, but I work a full-time job and do creative work on the side.”

I know how you feel, I was there once when I had to fit my passions in the margin of my life. I didn’t have the freedom to spend a morning at Panera Bread fully immersed in my writing. However, not making time for creative work or finding excuses why I couldn’t do creative work wasn’t serving me well. That’s when I made the decision to work for myself first.

Work for Yourself First

Things began to take a turn for me when I finally made the ultimate decision to work for myself first. Before I gave of my time to my employer, I worked for myself first.

For me, that was between 5-7 am in the morning. I knew it was the best time of the day for me to become fully immersed in creative work. The early hours of the morning had the fewest interruptions.

If you manage yourself well and get to bed early, you will find 10+ hours a week to work on your passion.

Restructure your schedule for one week. Place your creative work in the mornings and push reactive work to the afternoons. You’ll never go back to reactive work in the mornings.

Question: What works for you? How do you get stuff done? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

    Jonathan has been blogging since 2009 and is still in awe that the Creator of the Universe desires to have a relationship with him. His passions include spending time with his kids, reading, March Madness, surprise get-a-way trips with his wife, and watching funny YouTube videos.

    Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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    10 thoughts on “Do Creative Work First

    1. I’ve always been a morning person. However after coffee and time with the Lord I would check my email and facebook. Say good bye morning. Thanks for the article. I will apply what I’ve learned here by working on my blog for at least one hour before email and facebook. Thanks again.

    2. Most mornings I am able to sit on the bed and drink a cup of coffee while I read my Bible and write my thoughts. The words flow well as long as I leave my phone on silent and resist the temptation to pick it up and check my email. My reactive work never seems to end. After reading your article, I’m thinking I need to give it a set block of time each afternoon, then put it from my mind until the scheduled time the next day. This would leave me free to be creative in the evening hours rather than trying to catch up on the reactives. Thank for posting this.

      • Hi Martha. Glad it was helpful. I’d say definitely experiment with this! Push all reactive work to an afternoon time block and see how it works for one week. You might be surprised at how much more time you have for creative work along with less distractions!

    3. Best article I’ve read at 10:30 at night once I finally sat down to work on MY business. I am not a morning person in any way, shape or form, but it’s true that there is never time left for my own pursuits after working a full day, driving kids around, making dinner, working out, taking care of the house, etc. I’m setting the alarm extra early tomorrow. Thanks for the advice! 🙂

      • Excited to hear this Jacqui! I often say if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. Being intentional is so important. I was not a morning person until I decided to be one 🙂 Also, coffee became my new friend.

    4. This is such great advise. I worked at a job for 15+ years and day after day the work seemed to always be reactive. Burn out from that is a major crash and burn. Thanks for sharing, I hope people really take this advice to heart

    5. I love this advice! I often allow myself to get sucked into the “urgent” to-do list (that I now will call reactive work!) that leaves me feeling regret over the time it took and how depleted I feel of energy. It’s nice to know that it wasn’t just me 😉 Thanks for sharing this.