When do we best create?
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Key Takeaway: There's no one best time of day for creativity. Idea generation and job-related spark depend on your own natural cycle of activity—and your confidence in your own creative powers.
New research published in the Academy of Management Journal shows that there isn’t one best time of day for creativity. Rather, peak daily creativity depends on your chronotype – preferred times of activity and sleep. People vary on a continuum from strong morning types (most alert in the morning, going to sleep early) to strong evening types (most alert later in the day, going to sleep late) and tend to be most creative when they work in sync with their chronotype.
This research challenges the common advice that the best time of day for creative work is in the morning. Eminent creators often describe daily routines that start early in the morning. Writers Haruki Murakami and Sylvia Plath would wake up at 4am. Printer, politician, humorist, and inventor (among other things) Benjamin Franklin would wake up at 5am, as did the neurologist and writer Oliver Saks, anthropologist Margaret Mead, and writer Toni Morrison. If this schedule does not seem appealing (or even doable) to you, new research shows this is not the only schedule for creating.
A Matter of Chronotype
Jana Kuehnel, Ronald Bledow, and Markus Kiefer conducted three studies to examine when during the day people tend to be most creative in their jobs. In each study they asked people about their typical sleep times – both falling asleep and waking up. Work tends to cut sleep short, making it important to specifically ask about work-free days when sleep is not restricted (such as weekends, vacations).
Another way to assess chronotype is more direct – researchers asked whether people considered themselves morning or evening types and asked at what times they would go to sleep and wake up if they were entirely free to plan their day.
Each study tested creativity at work in different ways. One study asked people to complete a test requiring them to come up with creative ideas either in the morning (beginning of the work day) or in the later afternoon (end of the work day) on two consecutive days. Participants were asked to think of as many different uses as they could for everyday objects (brick or newspaper).
Researchers examined three aspects of creative thinking: idea fluency, flexibility, and originality. Idea fluency is the number of different ideas people generated. Flexibility concerns the breadth of ideas – number of different categories of ideas. For example, one could mention that bricks are used to build a garden path, build a wall, be a doorstop, and a bookend. These ideas belong to two categories – building and holding something. Finally, originality of ideas is a measure of how uncommon, unobvious, or unconventional are the ideas. The overall measure of creativity – composed of fluency, flexibility, and originality – showed that idea generation was most successful for late chronotypes at the end of the workday and for the early chronotypes at the start of the workday.
Another study measured job-relevant creativity. In the morning and in the late afternoon of their work day, people were asked a series of questions about how creative they were in their jobs in the previous hour. For example, they were asked whether they generated novel, but operable work ideas and to what extent they were good role models of creativity. Again, creativity was highest for the early chronotypes in the morning. Those with later chronotypes did not show higher creativity in the late afternoon, possibly because their peak time is reached even later in the day.
The third study included a group of professionals whose jobs explicitly required creativity – architects, designers, artists, creative directors. Over the course of a work week, they were asked to describe what they did throughout their days, from 6am-9am, 9am-noon, noon-3pm, 3pm-6pm, and 6pm-9pm. For each of the different time periods, they were asked questions about their work creativity. Later chronotypes were increasingly creative during the course of the workday. Earlier chronotypes were not less creative as the day went on, but this was likely because the sample did not include many strong early chronotypes.
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Why do morning people tend to be more creative in the morning and evening people in the later afternoon and evening? This research looked into two potential explanations, one about how people tend to feel at different times during the day and one about they tend to think about what they can do and accomplish. For morning people, their mood was related to daily changes in creativity. As they felt more positive and energized – they described being active, interested, excited, strong, inspired, and alert – they were also more likely to be creative. However, mood did not explain the whole story. For evening people, daily changes in creativity were not related to mood.
Was it that differences in when people are most creative depend on changes in how they think about their creative abilities? Creative self-efficacy is one’s belief that they are able to generate creative ideas and realize those ideas into products or performances. Although people differ in how much they believe they are able be creative in general (some are more confident than others), their thinking and self-evaluation also fluctuates depending on the situation or circumstances. You might believe you could be creative around close colleagues, but less so in front of your boss. Similarly, these beliefs can ebb and flow at different times during the day. When people say to themselves, “Right now, I have confidence in my ability to solve problems creatively”, they tend to attempt creative work and be more successful in working creatively. Again, creativity of morning people was paired with creative self-efficacy, but this was not the case for evening people. In other words, why daily creativity varies for morning and evening people does not depend on the same factors.
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This research has some practical implications for how to increase creativity. First, people should be aware of their chronotypes. This is not an either/or proposition. You are not either a morning or an evening type. Rather, there is a continuum and some of us are on the far ends of morningness/eveningness, but many more will be somewhere in between.
Those in jobs requiring creativity will benefit from aligning the creative aspects of their jobs to their chronotype. Ideally, managers on work teams might take into consideration preferences of their team members. This is not simply a matter of being “nice” and taking employee preferences into account when scheduling meetings or providing space for creative work. Rather, allowing opportunities to match preferred time of day with creative tasks tends to result in better work.
There is good news for all those (myself included!) who used to read about Oliver Saks and Toni Morrison and thought to themselves that if getting up at 5am is required for creativity, then creativity is simply not going to happen. Creativity can also happen in the late afternoon, as many others (morning types) start experiencing a slump. And creativity can happen late at night. Knowing how best to create starts with knowing when best to create.
Creativity is defined as the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining ourselves and others.How do you answer give an example of your creativity? ›
Answer: “I am a creative person by nature and enjoy finding unique solutions to problems. One example of my creativity is when I was working on a team project for a marketing campaign. Our goal was to increase brand awareness for a new product.What is the best example of your creativity? ›
There are plenty of examples of creative thinking/doing skills in a work situation, from devising a social media strategy for a new product; to arranging an in-store display for maximum impact; to devising a new way of processing reimbursements; to strengthening the quality of customer service (with proven results).How do you answer are you creative in an interview? ›
I'm the most innovative person I know by far. ' You don't want to oversell yourself with such a bold statement, especially without any evidence of your experience or achievements. It's good to be self-confident and it's definitely OK to say that you think you are innovative, but you don't want to sound arrogant.What are 4 examples of creativity? ›
Examples of creative thinking skills include: problem solving, writing, visual art, communication skills, and open-mindedness.What makes you most creative? ›
They take in their surroundings and draw inspiration from anything and everything around them. Personal experience is important as well. The more you do in in your life, the more your mind will be able to create. New experiences are really opportunities for creative people, more inspiration to draw on.How do you describe creativity as a strength? ›
Creativity is thinking of new ways to do things. It involves producing ideas or behaviors that are original. However, originality is not enough: whatever is created, whether an idea or a product, must also be useful or adaptable.What is creativity and give an example? ›
Creativity is a phenomenon whereby something new and valuable is formed. The created item may be intangible (such as an idea, a scientific theory, a musical composition, or a joke) or a physical object (such as an invention, a printed literary work, or a painting).What is an example for creativity in an interview? ›
FAQs on Give me an example of your Creativity.
Talk about how you came up with the idea for the solution that you're discussing. If relevant, discuss the process you used to compare your idea to other options and how you came to a decision.
- Try your hand at arts and crafts.
- Learn to look at situations differently.
- Cook new recipes or create your very own.
- Challenge your thoughts.
- Redecorate a room in your home.
- Don't be afraid to be original.
- Take more photos of things and places, not people.
Example #1: Describing yourself as Creative:
I am creative and passionate about my work. I am always looking for new ways to express myself and I strive to create the best work possible. I am driven by my desire to design something beautiful and unique using my graphic design skills.
Types of creative thinking
Aesthetic thinking, divergent thinking, lateral thinking, convergent thinking, and inspirational thinking are five types of innovative thinking to get the ball rolling.
For creativity, scientists hypothesize that the Big Three operate as a team: the default mode network generates ideas, the executive control network evaluates them, and the salience network helps to identify which ideas get passed along to the executive control network.What are the 3 major parts of creativity? ›
To break it down further, I define creativity as toggling between wonder and rigor to solve problems and produce novel value. It's a system grounded in insight and moving in and out of curiosity, improvisation and intuition. I call it the 3i Creativity™ framework.How are your creative skills? ›
Creativity is the ability to think about a task or a problem in a new or different way, or the ability to use the imagination to generate new ideas. Creativity enables you to solve complex problems or find interesting ways to approach tasks.What is the highest form of creativity? ›
Creation: Creation is the highest level of creativity.What activities use creativity? ›
- Start a dress-up box. ...
- Make simple puppets and put on a puppet show.
- Take turns making up a story. ...
- Video a play or performance. ...
- Play games that involve guessing and acting, like charades and Pictionary.
Creativity-relevant skills affect employees' creativity and role identity. Individuals with high creativity-relevant skills are open-minded and flexible, good at communication and cooperation, inclined to open, unique, adventurous activities and ways of doing things, easy to emerge innovative ideas.What is creativity one sentence? ›
Meaning: [‚kriːeɪ'tɪvətɪ] n. the ability to create. (1) A good teacher can encourage artistic creativity. (2) They hope the new rules will not stifle creativity. (3) Creativity is intelligence having fun.
- Collaborate with others. Creative people often draw inspiration from others. ...
- Be willing to take risks. ...
- Focus on your tasks. ...
- Engage in innovative problem-solving. ...
- Challenge conformity. ...
- Work independently. ...
- Show comfort with ambiguity. ...
- Pay attention to detail.
The invention of the motorcycle make them realize that they can also ride bikes without making any extra efforts, they just have to click the switch and its starts automatically. In this example, the thought of creation of a new traveling motorcycle is creativity, but the actual invention of it is innovation.What are the 4 characteristics of creativity? ›
In conclusion we can say that if we want to run a creative activity in the classroom, we need to check for the presence of these four features: imagination, purpose, originality and value, and organise the process in a way that all these can be incorporated.What are the 5 traits of a creative person? ›
- Flexibility. This is a key characteristic because it involves a mindset that suggests that there may be more than a single answer or solution to any particular issue or problem. ...
- A sense of intense curiosity. ...
- Positive attitude. ...
- Strong motivation and determination.
"I consider myself creative! I have had a flair for the arts and thinking outside of the box, ever since I was a child. My mother says I danced before I could walk and I always loved to take on new creative projects." "Having been a musician all my life, I do believe that I am a creative person.How do you describe a creative person in a sentence? ›
I have always been a creative person, enjoying making things. The artist is a creative person and ill-suited to a world of estimates and budgets. I accept the importance of that to a creative person. It is no doubt very difficult for a creative person, even if he can find the money to make a film, to get it shown.What traits make individuals most creative? ›
An individual trait that makes most individuals creative is their knowledge, style of thinking, personality, curiosity, environment and motivational drive.What is creativity in your own words? ›
Creativity is the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality. Creativity is characterised by the ability to perceive the world in new ways, to find hidden patterns, to make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena, and to generate solutions.What is creativity in your own unique words? ›
Creativity is the ability to create items that inspire and inform others, often in aesthetically pleasing ways. Aldo Sarellano. Creativity is thinking outside of society's norm. It is being able to express oneself in different varieties of arts - painting, poetry, sculpture, style, fashion, etc.What is creativity with example? ›
Creativity is a phenomenon whereby something new and valuable is formed. The created item may be intangible (such as an idea, a scientific theory, a musical composition, or a joke) or a physical object (such as an invention, a printed literary work, or a painting).
Creative people like to daydream and imagine the possibilities and wonders of the world. They can immerse themselves in imagination and fantasy, yet remain grounded enough to turn their daydreams into reality. They are often described as dreamers, but that doesn't mean that they live with their heads in the clouds.What are the 3 types of creativity? ›
A common misconception is that creativity cannot be cultivated, and that instead some lucky people have an innate sense of creativity. But this assumption is wrong. According to classical psychology research, there are three main types of creativity: exploratory, transformational, and combinational creativity.How does creativity express yourself? ›
When you express yourself creatively, you can show others the things that matter to you and the things that make you unique. This can be inspiring for other people, and it can help them see the world in a new way. Creativity is also important because it can help you connect with other people.How do you say I am a creative person? ›