Productive Time vs Creative Time – The Yin and Yang of Business

Creativity and Productivity - Yin and Yang

Productive Time vs Creative Time – The Yin and Yang of Business

Creativity and Productivity – 2 sides of the same coin

Managing productive time vs creative time is the great struggle as a business owner. I don’t believe that we, as individuals, are just one or the other. I don’t believe that some people are productive while some are creative. Sure, some people seem to be more of one than the other, but that may just be their perception or our perception of them based on what they show in their offerings to the public.

A business owner and an artist. One is seen as productive, the other creative. But, it takes both action and inspiration for a business owner to be an entrepreneur and an artist to be recognized and celebrated.

Are you more productive during some times of the day?

Some people get more done before noon than others get done all day – or all week. Some people are more focused and productive at night.

I don’t generally consider myself to be a morning person, but I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I’m truly at my most productive in the morning, before noon. Mid-to-late evening, I can knock some things off my to-list pretty quickly, too. But, mid-afternoon? Forget about it. I’m useless. Well, not really useless. That’s when I schedule meetings, do research or fiddle with my social media accounts. Stuff that needs attention, but aren’t the most important, push-the-needle kind of activities.

The goal is to figure out when you feel like you get the most done:

  • When are you the most energized and alert?
  • When do you have the least interruptions?
  • When are you most in the mood to take on your to-do list and win?

Are you more creative during certain times of the day?

This doesn’t just apply to artists, as I mentioned above. We’re all artists in our own way. We all create something. We all put our own twists on what we do and the way we do it.

My creativity levels are highest between midnight at 4:00 AM. This is sometimes problematic, but it’s the way it is and the way my brain works.

When do you most often have your best ideas?

  • In the car?
  • In the shower?
  • When you can’t sleep?
  • At the gym?


productive time vs creative time - Yin and Yang

What if your productive times and creative times aren’t the same?

Well, they’re likely not at the same time. But that’s a good thing, really.  

We need time to wonder, mull, dream, and what-if. We also need time to focus and produce. These tasks use different sides of the brain, so it make sense that they don’t naturally occur at the same time as each other. However, they do each naturally occur at the same time each day.

We have to figure out when we’re most productive and when we’re most creative and use that knowledge to put our best work out into the world.  It doesn’t have to be about Productive Time vs Creative Time, but harnessing the power of Productivity and Creativity, at their naturally occurring times.

If I’m super creative at night, I have to sleep in, which means I’m less likely to be productive the next day. So, I’m unlikely to be at my most productive and my most creative in the same 24 hour period. But, I’ve developed some strategies to help with that.

Using creativity to be more productive

According to James Hayton, author of PHD: AN UNCOMMON GUIDE, being productive is easy. Being productive means working harder or faster, working more hours and/or improving our efficiency and effectiveness. But it only works when we know what we’re supposed to do and how to do it.

That’s where creativity comes in. Those moments of inspiration that make knowing what we’re supposed to do become so clear.  And those flashes of genius that allow us to know just how to do it.

All those creative ideas I have late at night? I used to forget them all by the next morning.

But, if I record them somehow, make some kind of a list for my next Productivity Push, I get so many more of my ideas out into the world.

You don’t want to interrupt your inspiration, so you need something quick and easy to capture the moment without breaking the flow. Try some of these during Creative Time:

  • Make an idea list on the back of an envelope
  • Add some to-dos to tomorrow’s Google calendar
  • Outline a blog post
  • Write in a journal
  • Record your thoughts on your phone
  • Open Facebook or Periscope and do a live video of you just thinking out loud
  • Draw, doodle or make charts
  • Use sticky notes or index cards
  • Use Evernote ( to organize your ideas

When you’re in the flow of ideas, don’t just let them flow and then fly away – capture them for Productive Time. What works best for you is what’s important.  Productive Time vs Creative Time is part of the yin and the yang of life and of business.

About Author


I am a web developer and founder of Digital in Kansas City, Missouri. I built my first website 1999 and have been hooked ever since. My mission is to help small businesses thrive by using technology and social media effectively and efficiently.