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Big Ideas

Breaking Schoolhouse Habits

Our years of formal schooling have created habits that actually set us back when it comes to productivity and pushing ideas forward.

Our years of formal schooling have created habits that actually set us back when it comes to productivity and pushing ideas forward! While our instinct may be to live life as we were taught, we must consider the contrary. Some of the most productive creative professionals that we interview have a different approach to conventional wisdom.

We were taught to memorize and take extensive notes. But… Memorizing takes up mental space and leads to forgetting. Especially as we start to get senior moments, organizing information in a readily accessible manner is much more important than memorizing facts. Memorizing also consumes our precious energy for creativity. Note taking, another scholarly impulse of ours, has become a vestige skill. Amidst our busy lives, we’re lucky to complete our action steps, yet alone have time to read old notes.

We were taught to “never cut corners,” and to finish everything we start. But… The reality is that time must be managed according to our true priorities and goals. We were not trained properly. When your gut tells you that you’re going down the wrong path with a project, sometimes the best answer is to ditch it and try again (or not). And, while it was never acceptable to play with friends in the schoolyard instead of doing our homework, we now must weigh time with our families versus time at work. Often times, leaving the office is the right answer.

Our instinct was to work towards the good grade, now it’s the paycheck. But…

Nothing extraordinary is ever achieved through ordinary means. When your mentality has you working toward the next paycheck or the year-end bonus, you are less likely to invest effort in long-term goals. The great achievements that lie years ahead are often compromised for near-term rewards. Sometimes we must short-circuit ourselves and focus on the faint light at the end of the very long tunnel.

Let’s keep our old schoolhouse memories as just what they are: memories. A productive, creative life requires independent thinking and reasoning; be skeptical of the things you do “just because.”

This tip was written by Scott Belsky, Behance Team. Explore moretips, and check out Behance’s guest postings for small businesses trying to make ideas happen, hosted at American Express’ OpenForum.

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Comments (5)
  • RedAntler

    great article, and i love the image!

  • tmatti

    Great Article

  • artplugsdesign

    This is a great insight in productivity. I have been reading some articles about it and the book “The Art of the Start” by Guy Kawasaki was really helpful.<br />
    <br />
    Thanks fro sharing your thinking!<br />
    :)<br />
    <br />

  • lightcapturestudio

    “Nothing extraordinary is ever achieved through ordinary means.” <br />
    <br />
    Now thats a keeper

  • Adam Rad 13

    What about those of us still in the schoolhouse?  In order to excel we have to follow these mandated strategies that cloud our capacity for independent learning and intuitive thinking.  Can this battle be won?

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