Creating Productivity vs. Producing Creativity

Scott Leonardi

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I think there’s a distinction that needs to be made between a person’s ability to create productivity, and their capacity to produce creativity.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to hear that I chose these two phrases because of their potential for an interest-piquing title to this article, but regardless of how you got here, I’ll try to make the trip worth it.

These two phrases work in conjunction with each other. They are a closed loop, a perpetual motion machine.

Let me explain…

(To myself as much as you because I tend to work out ideas on the fly as anyone who knows me could attest to, which is why I’m also curious as to what I have to say about all this… What can I say, if I had wings they would be made out of the stitched together chaps of every pair of pants I’ve ever owned…But I digress, back to the world of the unitalicized…)

Our ability to create productivity stems from our work ethic and how we’re able to cultivate routines and healthy habits for ourselves. In a sense, we are making order out of chaos. We are taking the unstructured and unpredictable noise of our lives and giving it meaning. We begin to understand the patterns that emerge in our lives — due to our own tendencies or outside forces — and we start the process of creating a mental map of how best to navigate these patterns.

The better we become at structuring our map, and the more complex it usually becomes, the more developed we begin to appear to ourselves and more confident we begin to feel in our ability to stave off the potential hazards of a chaotic world.

Now, this all just sounds like a roundabout way of saying, “organize the mess of your life,” or something to that effect, and to an extent, that’s true. But, it’s not just about this first step. This is only half of the process.

By constructing an individualized filter for the infinite options of the outside world, we’re able to funnel that chaotic mess into something manageable. We build a workable machine that will produce what we tell it to produce.

If we can do the inner work to understand what truly makes us happy, what makes us feel useful, what gives us purpose, and what guides the vision for our lives, we end up creating a perpetual productivity machine. Its dimensions are clear and understood. The blueprints are embedded in our minds and subconsciously revised as needed.

So, now we have our factory. We’ve created a production line that is greased and ready for operation. Now what?

Now, we produce creativity.

When I say this, I’m not talking about simply coming up with better ways to improve on your own abilities to produce. I feel like people get so caught up in self-improvement that they actually forget what the self was for in the first place. Your product shouldn’t just be more productivity. That’s a perpetual motion machine that will just dig its way into the dirt until it’s swallowed by the Earth and melted into nothing.

Instead, now is the time for ideas that aren’t impeded by their necessity to become a part of the whole that is you. True ideas should have the original grit to live on their own. They shouldn’t need to be absorbed by the machine of your ego. They should become little baby bits of chaos that have sprung from the order of your mind, able to navigate the world freely.

A truly individualized and original concept should have the inherent capacity to walk on its own legs and leave the factory of its birth. The factory you so painstakingly built from the ground up. In time, after enough exposure to the outside world, these ideas return. Sometimes they bring recognition, sometimes connections to people with which you may otherwise wouldn’t have made contact. In any case, the investment in putting an original idea out into the world will usually return, hopefully with some sort of interest.

If we’ve done this all correctly, we should have created for ourselves a conceptual machine of productivity that produces the kind creativity that only we are capable of producing. This should help to feed the machine and keep the cycle going.

This makes sense, right?

Thinking about these things in the abstract always comes with the hazardous baggage of not being understood by anyone but you. (These denim wings can only flap so far.)

The real point in trying to articulate this idea is so we can better understand that it’s not good to focus solely on one side of the equation. We can’t spend all of our time building routines and polishing our production line simply to be blinded by the light reflecting off the chrome while we wonder what we’re doing standing in an empty factory.

We also can’t expect to see something memorable spring out of nothing if we’re out in the wild wandering around a landscape of meaningless chaos. Anomalies aside, great things don’t appear out of nowhere. They need an open mind and a structured sense of self in which to gestate.

If the machine was constructed properly and with care, you’ll be able to see how as you create your sense of productivity and it, in turn, produces genuine creativity, you’ll eventually be able to step back from it all and watch the momentum of it all handle itself.

You will be in perpetual motion.

And a unique and unadulterated force of nature to be reckoned with.

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I write a lot about self-development and personal growth. I want to help people uncover their authentic selves through creative expression and in the process understand their place in the world a little better. I also enjoy writing screenplays, short stories, and poetry. All of which can be found at

Imperial Beach, CA

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