Thursday, January 31, 2013

Too many ideas, not enough time

by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.

Just since I began recording some possible subjects for future essays (my latest list)—about 3½ months ago, I have generated 122 topics. One problem I have is getting ideas on the list when they occur to me, since I don’t always have the list with me. From that list, only about 5 of the topics have been converted into essays thus far, but I have used the list often to see if a topic appears there. The topic for this essay is not on the list. I always generate far, far more topics than I can write about, hence the title of this essay, "Too many ideas, not enough time."
Just to give you an example of what I am talking about, let me reveal some of the topics that I have generated over the past several months. They appear here in no particular order:

1. Turning over a new leaf

2. Dealing with the impossible

3. What are the basic human obligations?

4. Temporal happiness

5. Identifying your passion

6. Importance of knowing who you are

7. When in doubt . . .

8. What does commitment really mean?

9. What does your legacy really mean?

10. Kissing frogs

11. Developing conscientiousness

12. The importance of looks

13. Permissible shortcuts

14. Finding your purpose

15. Thank your mentors

16. Settling your debts

17. Thinking differently

18. The effects of low self-esteem

19. The spark that makes a difference

20. How far can you go?

21. Signs along the way

22. A life of subsistence

23. Strategic pessimism

24. Going solo

25. The knock-out punch

26. Betting on yourself

Now, think about it, my actual list of topics is about five times longer than just those listed above. When I was re-writing them (above), it sparked my creative juices. There are so many I would love to write about right now—but I don’t have the time!

I loved what Tama J. Kieves (the first reference in the additional readings attached to this essay) said about having too many ideas: "It’s a blessing to be creatively abundant." There is no doubt this is true, and I’ve never been one to disparage in any way the fruitfulness of my brain—or any brain for that matter! I have never drawn a blank when it comes to generating new ideas, and when I am looking for one to write on, too many appear, but not enough time!

I have written extensively about creativity in a book that I consider to be the cornerstone of my philosophy of life. In You Rules - Caution: Contents Leads to a Better Life! (And Then Some Publishing LLC, 2008), in six chapters, I discuss the benefits of creativity, the characteristics of successful, creative people, how the creative process works, establishing the kind of life in which creativity will flourish, becoming immersed in a field of study, and how to capitalize on flow. If your goal was to become a creative person or to enhance your already-present creative abilities, this section of this multi-faceted, motivational book will make a clear and vivid difference in your life.

What I have discovered regarding having far more ideas and not nearly enough time, is that I enjoy being involved in a plethora of stimulation. It not only engages my mind, but it preoccupies my thinking, buries me in contemplation, absorbs me with consideration, and saturates me in motivation. Sure, you could look at it as overstimulation; however, my view is that this saturation of information galvanizes, activates, fuels, and inspires. I am most excited when my brain is electrified. It is a refreshing, revitalizing, and restorative tonic that rouses and energizes.

When I thought of this topic for an essay as I was jogging, I couldn’t wait for all my exercising rituals to end so that I could get to the computer to transform my thoughts into words. I was charged-up. And, even now, as I am bringing this essay closer to a conclusion, I have gone way beyond my time for lunch because I am into the "flow," and I have to capitalize on the moment for generating this verbiage. I have the topic, the interest, and the time!

Perhaps, you have experienced this yourself. Too much taking place in your brain, too many ideas coming forth unexpected and unannounced; too much stimulation that you don’t want to break in or stop the process—the flow.

When I am involved in the preparation for a new edition of my textbook, Communicating Effectively, 10e (McGraw-Hill, 2012), I experience this same feeling. My whole body moves into a mode of operation. It’s like having overdrive in an automobile. My senses are peaked, my awareness is charged, and my motivation is difficult to restrain. I long for the outlet—the opportunity to create.

When I can bring to a project (an essay or book), all that I am, and then infuse that with the energy and creativity that serves as a catalyst for my productivity, the end product, based on my history and products of the past, is not just of high quality, but there is quantity, too. That is how I operate; that is how it has worked; that is what I know.

This is not a new or recent phenomenon. I can’t remember a time when this wasn’t the case. For example, while I taught at Bowling Green State University, I would meet weekly with Howard W. Cotrell, a professor and representative of the Instructional Media Center on campus. His first contact with me had to do with visiting my large lectures. There, he would take notes and make recommendations in our weekly meetings regarding greater teaching effectiveness, the better use of instructional materials, and any additional suggestions on the delivery or substance of my lectures. It was one of the best professional relationships I encountered at any point in my entire collegiate career.

One thing that happened during our weekly meetings, especially as they evolved over the many years—nearly 22 total—that we met, was the generation of ideas for possible academic publication. Together, we would serve as idea generators by thinking of brainstorming new ideas, working off the comments of each other, and, basically, sharing in a mutually beneficial creative endeavor. Together, we co-authored more than 30 published, academic papers. But even then, our publication record came nowhere close to the number of potential ideas that we wrote down. There were so many ideas, but so little time!

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Tama J. Kieves, author of the book, This Time I Dance! Create the Work You Love, , has a delightful website with the subtitle, "A blog about inspired living," and in her brief essay, "Too Many Ideas, Too Little Time? The Secret of Being Creatively Abundant," proves conclusively for me, that she is an excellent writer. Her brief essay on the topic I chose to write about here, is superb, and I wish I could quote the entire thing. Here is just one inspiring paragraph: "
Some ideas are springboards.  Some ideas are just passing through.  Some ideas collapse and fold into other projects.  Sometimes ideas whisper your name a thousand ways, in different tongues, shift different angles until you claim the nucleus and find the heart.  Some ideas will take you so deep that nothing else will ever matter in the same way again.  It only takes a moment to make an entire life worthwhile."

At Stepcase Lifehack, the author of the essay, What to do when you have too many ideas, offers four ideas about what to do when you have too many ideas: 1) Write it down, but let them simmer, 2) Adopt a mission statement, 3) Create idea buckets, and, 4) Get real, which means connecting with the ideas that you are fondest of and know will bring about the most benefit to yourself and others.

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Copyright January 31, 2013, by And Then Some Publishing LLC

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