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Creativity is not Efficient

Episode 135: Sarai and Haley explore three reasons why creativity is not efficient and share tips for ways you can lean into those creative moments.

Posted in: Seamwork Radio Podcast • March 22, 2023 • Episode 135

Creativity is not efficient. And that’s a good thing.

You're often prodded to be as efficient as possible in life. But what does this do to your creativity?

In this episode, Sarai and Haley explore three reasons why creativity is not efficient and share tips for ways you can lean into your creative moments rather than taking the quick and easy route.

Below are the show notes with links from the episode, the biggest takeaways of Sarai and Haley’s discussion, followed by the entire podcast transcript.

Efficiency can stifle your creative mindset

Trying to be as efficient as possible limits your ability to think outside the box. When you are outcome focused ("I have to finish sewing this blouse"), it can rob you of the opportunity to take the scenic route and explore creativity along the way.

So how can you dampen the urge to be efficient in your creative moments?

  • Set intentions that are experience-focused, not outcome-focused. Rather than telling yourself you have to finish that blouse as soon as possible, set a goal around the experience of sewing the blouse. Set a goal to sew some vintage buttons on it by hand. Or set up a little ritual each time you sit at your machine to work on the blouse.

  • Avoid setting arbitrary deadlines for you to finish a sewing project. If you’re rushing to sew something in time for the weekend, ask yourself if that’s a real deadline. Some projects have real deadlines, like special occasions, but most don’t. If you don’t really need a deadline, there’s no need to set one.

Efficiency can stifle innovation

If you try to be efficient, you are more likely to default to what’s comfortable and known rather than experimenting and trying new, innovative things. Sure, you can bang out a bunch of T-shirts with wild abandon—and nothing is wrong with that—but are you pushing your skills? Are you learning new ways to work with knits? Maybe trying something new, like using a coverstitch machine?

When you only care about being efficient, you’re less like to take the time to explore your skillset fully. So what can you do to boost innovation rather than efficiency?

  • Pick out sewing projects that teach you a new skill. Niche sewing is a powerful way to learn things, and you might even discover your new favorite project to sew. What’s niche sewing? It’s all the little sartorial nooks and crannies, like lingerie, shirtmaking, or corsetry. Listen to episode 69 of Seamwork Radio: What you can learn from niche sewing.

  • Take opportunities to slow down and research when something new or challenging. You might skip the research phase if you’re trying to be super efficient. But if you go to a sewing book, look up a tutorial on YouTube, or even chat with a sewing friend, you might discover some new ways of doing things.

Creativity thrives with incubation

Creativity thrives with incubation. Being creative is not always an immediate, one-time event. If you give your creativity time and space, your ideas will mature and develop—just like fine wine or a sharp batch of sauerkraut.

So how can you let your ideas incubate?

  • Set a dedicated time to conceptualize and play with ideas—without sewing the thing. Play can be really valuable. In Design Your Wardrobe we talk about how incubation is the trick to good design. This means dedicating as much time to thinking, iterating, and experimenting as you do your actual sewing.

  • If you are frustrated or you don’t like your finished project, step away from it and take a break. Then, when you return to it, you might have a different perspective. Mistakes tend to shrink when you give them a bit of time and space.

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