Below is an excellent 10-min video clip from a presentation by John Cleese expressing a few of his ideas on creativity. One of the main problems for many of use today is that we are always in a hurry and our minds are a bit scattered juggling many balls in the air. But if we are racing around all day with a busy mind, Cleese says, we are not going to have many creative ideas. We must slow down our minds to see the connections. There is some evidence that insights, for example, are best captured when we slow down, clear the noise and do not think about the problem at hand. In David Rock's book Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long, he says "Having insights involves hearing subtle signals and allowing loose connections to be made. This requires a quiet mind...." In a world that is always online and always connected, it's helpful to close your computer as much as possible. Remove the distractions. As Cleese says, "We don't know where we get our ideas from. We do know that we do not get them from our laptops."
Create an oasis or "tortoise enclosure"
One key to being more creative, says Cleese, is to avoid interruption. This is very important, yet increasingly difficult. So the question, then, is how to become more creative in a frantic, high-paced world that is filled with interruptions and demands to multitask. Cleese's idea is that we must create a sort of "tortoise enclosure," an atmosphere that is safe and free from the threat of interruption. You have to create an oasis in your life in the middle of what is a kind of chaos for most of us. We must create clear boundaries of space and of time. Creating the space to avoid interruptions may be difficult at home and at work (ironically), but it must be done. If you have a nice private office at work or a good home office, it's easier. If you do not have one of these luxuries, as Cleese mentions you can always find some other kind of oasis such as the park or a coffee shop or the beach and so on. It's important to find alone time or uninterrupted time and space for your team in the case of collaboration. Cleese suggests that when we create this "oasis of boundaries" where we will not be interrupted, we must give ourselves a clear starting time and a clear finishing time. A boundary of time as well as space is important in order for play and creativity to flourish. Play happens when there are clear boundaries from ordinary life.
For introspection and for insight, we need to slow our busy minds. Often this means getting off the grid completely, if even only for a short period.