Why email may be ruining your creativity

Generate speaker Denise Jacobs explains how to tap into your creative zone.

If there's one person who knows about creativity it's Denise Jacobs, who spoke at one of our Generate events last year.

Working in web design since 1997, she's the author of The CSS Detective Guide and Interact with Web Standards, and speaks at conferences worldwide. So it's worth hearing what she has to say about how important creativity is and what practical steps you can take to boost it.

"Creativity is a real important skill to have," she explains. "It's something that we as web designers and developers we're always using. We don't always know to we tap into it. But when we're there, in the creative zone, it's amazing."

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But there's a problem – "the elusivity of it. You wish you could replicate it over and over again. When you're really creative and in your creative zone, you're really focused in on yourself and bringing the idea to the fore. But what ends up happening is that our attention is focused outward."

In short, Jacobs says, our creativity is stymied by our addiction to hyperconnectivity. "We're on our phones all the time, tweeting, texting, looking for emails etc.

"And when I say addicted, I mean addicted," she emphasises. "There have been times when I've sat and hit the refresh button on Gmail, to see if anything's coming in. It's like, no? Now? How about now? How about now? Because I'm addicted to that little squirt of dopamine, that little jolt I get when I get an email. And these distractions start to affect the way our brains work."

Insane in the brain

Denise Jacobs spoke at Generate last year - don't miss more great talks at this year's event

"Our brains are designed to work on a task and start to do it," she stresses. "And if you truncate that task, you interrupt it, then that cycle, mentally, is still happening in the background.

"It's just like a computer processor. You start the process, it keeps running, keeps hanging in the background. Then you start another process, that goes, you stop that one, that one keeps hanging. And then at the end of the day you wonder why you feel overwhelmed, you feel tired, you didn't get anything done."

"I'd argue that we have this hyperconnectivity, this distraction, because we're kind of afraid of this creative power we have. And that's why we're kind of all over this place."

See more great talks

To hear more from Jacobs on the subject, check out the full video of her talk to Generate last year below. And you can experience more great talks from the leading lights of web design this May at Generate New York 2015 - buy your ticket today!