December 15, 2021
Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the Immersive Van Gogh Experience in Orlando.
I knew about Van Gogh, of course. Sunflowers, windmills, starry nights, and cutting off ears. . . but one thing I didn’t know was how intensely time limited his painting career was.
According to Wikipedia:
In a decade, he created about 2,100 artworks, including around 860 oil paintings, most of which date from the last two years of his life. [Emphasis mine]
Two years, to create nearly 2,000 pieces of art.
The mind boggles.
He started painting in 1881, and his early works were mostly still lifes using dull colors. After moving to Paris in 1886 and meeting Gaugin, he started using the brighter colors we associate with his work, and he developed the style we identify with him today and which became a model for painters who came after him.
This trajectory is common amongst super-productive creatives.
The creative person spends a long time experimenting and trying out new things. Then they zero in on one thing and enter into a hot streak, according to author Elissaveta M. Brandon.
“Before a hot streak, you’re unusually exploratory, then when a hot streak begins, you’re unusually more likely to focus on this one area,” says Dashun Wang, a professor of management and organizations at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, who led the study.
The study concludes that you can’t just keep exploring. At some point, you need to double down on one technique, style, or niche. Nor, if you want to be super productive, can you simply zero in without the previous wide exploration.
Although his paintings fetch some of the highest prices in the world when auctioned today, Van Gogh sold only two paintings and a few drawings during his lifetime. If he had needed to sell his paintings to support himself, would he have spent the necessary time experimenting before he exploded into his new technique and style?
It’s an unanswerable question, of course. But, if you would like to improve both your creativivity and your productive output, first spend time — lots of time — experimenting. Then, when you’re ready to focus – kapow! Super productivity.
Tips & Tools
Are you doing nothing right?
“Downtime” may not mean what you think it means.
It doesn’t mean zoning out while you binge watch Netflix. It does mean leaving your brain free to tiptoe through the proverbial tulips.
I used to listen to podcasts on my semi-daily walks. At some point, I stopped. I know people who cram something into every waking minute — listening to a podcast while they do the dishes or drive the car, watching an instructional video while they ride the stationary bike, and so on.
Turns out, that’s actually counterproductive. When your mind is focused on something, it’s not free to make the imaginative leaps that translate into creativity.
When you get your downtime right, your creativity will soar.
Want to spend some time living and working in Europe?
10 European countries now offer digital nomad visas. Each country has its own requirements, of course.
While the Omicron variant is now wreaking havoc on travel plans, here are some general guidelines for countries and regions that are available for travel again.
Author Victoria Song says we can choose to live in one of two worlds: the world of predictability or the world of possibility.
Most of us inhabit the former, but when we choose possibility (you’ll need a growth mindset!), great things can happen.
Predictability thinking sees things in black and white — it’s good or it’s bad, it’s right or it’s wrong, it’s all or nothing. We play to not lose instead of to win.
Song believes that, in order to live in a world of possibility, you must become more comfortable with discomfort, and your dreams must be bigger than your fears.
Credit cards can make travel easier in lots of ways, but did you know there are some cards that can make those endless airport security lines disappear?
Global Entry and TSA PreCheck are programs you apply for that speed your departure or reentry. Some credit cards will pay those program fees for you so you can enjoy the benefits at no cost.
Some of the links on this page may be affiliate links. That means, if you click and purchase, you pay exactly the same amount and I’ll earn a small commission. These fees help me to keep the free information flowing.
In Case You Missed It. . .
How I Moved to the Netherlands and Built a Wonderful Expat Life
Amanda didn’t set out with the intention of creating an expat life, but that’s what she ended up doing. Here’s her story.
I am British born but have been living in the Netherlands since 2000. Since then, I have gained:
1 Dutch husband
1 freelance writing and translation career.
We live in the Achterhoek in the east of the Netherlands.
Continue Reading. . .
If you like what you’re reading on this page, you can get a carefully curated newsletter delivered to your inbox. Just fill in your best email address below, and join us!
Explore Life. Create Anywhere.
On random Wednesdays, I’ll email you the best hand-picked tools, tips, and information to help you do your best creative work from anywhere.
No spam. Promise.