Creativity and Innovation: The impact of time management.

An Interview with Dr Zampetakis

zampetakis

Dr Zampetakis is an expert on time management, creativity and innovation. As an adjunct professor at the Technical University of Crete, Dr Zampetakis has recently published what I think is the first empirical study that investigates time management and creativity.

Is time management a bust or a boon for creativity and innovation? Dr Zampetakis and colleagues gives us the the facts and the implications for their findings on time management and creativity.


1. Hi Dr Zampetakis, thank you for joining us today. Please take a moment to tell us about your work on time management and creativity, and anything else you'd like to let our readers know about yourself.

I really appreciate the opportunity to talk about our research.

Creativity is a fascinating topic to study especially during this period in history were the human race needs ideas (in all fields) that are new and useful.

For me the study of creativity was a need; I needed to find an academic field that could serve as an umbrella for my background: I have a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Biotechnology, a M.Sc. in Environmental Engineering a M.Sc. in Industrial Engineering and a PhD in Engineering Management.

Creativity offered me the missing link.

How?

By letting me comprehend the connections between seemingly unrelated concepts.

2. In today's environment in which people are adapting constantly to a changing environment and increasing competition there is an increasing recognition of the importance of creativity and time management. Could you inform our readers of the relationship that you have found between time management and creativity?

Our research team in the Management Systems Laboratory www.logistics.tuc.gr and under the guidance of the professor Vassilis Moustakis, has conducted several studies on the factors enhancing individual creativity.

Our last published work, shed some light to the question if time management skills facilitate creative thought. We found that individual creativity is positively related to daily planning behaviour, confidence on long-range planning, perceived control of time and tenacity.

We explain this finding by conceptualizing time management essentially as a planning process.

Considering that time management is a particular way of planning, we thought that it is likely that individuals could use time management behaviours (i.e. daily planning, long range planning) as self-regulation strategies towards the attainment of novel or useful ideas.

This is in line with the notion that to a large extent, people decide to be creative.

To be creative, individuals need to be actively engaged in focusing on the task, trying to think of new ways to do things, and trying to combine disparate elements to come up with novel approaches or solutions. This implies that time management behaviours relate to creativity measures.

For example, individuals high in creativity may plan their daily work schedules, so that boring and not intrinsically interesting tasks are completed first; or they could adjust the length of the workday so that at least some work is accomplished during the periods when work is regarded less desirably.

3. As I understand the literature, and please correct me if I am wrong, your study is the first empirical study to attempt to link creativity and time management. Did you have difficulty conceptualizing such broad concepts?

Yes, you are right.

Although it has been theorised in the past (i.e. Guilford (1950) and Britton & Glynn (1989)) that time management skills contribute to creativity, it has not been empirically tested. Our study is indeed the first one that uses data to demonstrate the relationship between individual creativity and time management.

I need to stress however, that our experimental design was an observational one; that is we simply, "took a picture of reality".

This prevents us from making cause-effect interpretations.

Is individual’s amount of creativity responsible for time management techniques or the other way around?

For now, we cannot tell. We provide evidence however that creative individuals seem to structure and manage their time.

As far the second part of your question, indeed creativity and time management even in the academics are rather elusive constructs.

In our study, however, we have used the state of the art conceptual and mathematical models that guarantee the validity and reliability of our results.

Furthermore, in our laboratory we use modern psychometric techniques for the measurement of individual creativity.

Recently I have published a paper in the Journal of Creative Behavior titled "Unfolding the measurement of the creative personality" were I use and new category of mathematical models (unfolding item response theory models) and I open new roads to the reliable measurement of creativity from paper and pencil tests (Zampetakis, in press).

4. What are some of the broader implications of this important study that you have conducted on time management and creativity?

We believe that the results obtained in this study have some noteworthy theoretical and practical implications.

To begin, time management has not received much attention in studies of creativity. Nonetheless, there is reason to suspect that time management may relate to creativity, as people seek to adapt their actions to an envisioned future.

And, in fact, the results obtained in our study regarding the relationship between time management behaviors and creativity provides some support for this proposition. Correlations were found to be stronger when creativity was considered as product oriented (focusing on the extent to which outcomes are useful and novel) compared to correlations obtained with a general creative personality construct.

This implies that planning daily activities, prioritizing them, and having a confidence on long range planning are more relevant to the production of novel and useful ideas.

In other words our results suggest that time management behaviors may be necessary for the effective exploitation of creative ideas.

5. What advice do you have for organizations that want to maintain and allow their creativity to flourish?

Our research has some interesting practical implications.

First, although individual creativity relates to autonomy, it is possible that such autonomy may be meaningless if individuals did not also have the freedom to choose which tasks to plan and schedule. Individuals would need to be able to choose the day-to-day and long-term activities that would lead to the completion of a larger task.

This is in line with previous research findings indicating that the most frequently mentioned contextual factor characterizing high-creativity events was freedom.

Next, our results implicitly confirm the idea that supervisors' planning skills are an important influence on the work of people high in creativity.

Supervisors that are responsible for long-term projects should do substantial planning beforehand and avoid assigning individuals high in creativity, tasks that are not intriguing and motivating.

6. You're a leader in your field, with several publications on enhancing creativity and innovation. You are also teaching university students at the Technical University of Crete. Being an adjunct lecturer, which can be very a demanding job, do you find that time management is beneficial for you? If so, what time management techniques do you use and how do they benefit you?

Please let me add the work-family conflict, as well. I have two kids and time seems to fly away!

Well, personally, I use daily planning a lot and I keep prioritising almost everything! Simple techniques such as "to-do" lists help me very much.

Recently, I have realised that also mind maps (a form of non-linear note taking technique) is also beneficial by providing a natural form for “to-do” lists.

7. Dr Zampetakis, thanks again for this interview. Before we go, do you have any advice for people who want to enhance their creativity?

Simple rules: Be curious like a kid, asking questions about everything, and remember that there are not definitive answers in our lives.

References

  • Guilford, J. P. (1950). Creativity. American Psychologist, Vol. 5, pp. 444-454.
  • Britton, B. K., & Glynn, S. M. (1989). Mental management and creativity: A cognitive model of time management for intellectual productivity. In J. A. Glover & C. R. Reynolds (Eds.), Handbook of creativity (Vol. 24, pp. 429-440). New York: Plenum Press.
  • Zampetakis, L.A. (in press). Unfolding the measurement of the creative personality. Journal of Creative behavior
  • Zampetakis, L.A. Bouranta, N. & Moustakis, V. (2010). On the relationship between individual creativity and time management. Thinking Skills and Creativity, Vol. 5 (1), pp.23-32.


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