“When will it be done?”

Many of us have to answer this question, whether it’s a work environment asking for estimate of time for a project or even from ourselves when trying to decide what to do next.

Of course, it can be notoriously difficult to measure time, whether the scale is a matter of hours or weeks.

First, the measures of time by seconds, minutes, and hours is only an agreed upon standard. It doesn’t actually reflect the motions of mind as it drifts through time. The clock clicks along while we can only mind the markers.

More to the point, though, such types of work are often creative in nature.

But what do I mean by “creative”?

When we work creatively, whether it’s knowledge work, academic, or artistic, we either do not know:

  1. What the end result will look like,
  2. What the steps to get there are, or
  3. Both of the above.

As a result, we *cannot* know the time involved.

In fact, when we are being creative, we put this with that, that with this, and ultimately *discover*…

We discover something out of place.

We discover something missing.

We discover connections and meaning.

All the while, we follow a pull of question after question, wandering and wondering.

And most importantly,

We discover what we are making in the act of making it.

And with every momentary discovery that creates our end result, we require moments of thought, each itself existing in the medium of time, each nourished by a pause, and perhaps a glance away.

Certainly, we might have flashes of insight. But even those are born of several emotional clouds meandering about, meeting and greeting each other as they take their time, until finally some chance catalyst crystallizes an “aha!” which itself must be further considered for optimal delivery.

And certainly, the emotional whirlpools, currents, and eddies can unwittingly lead us into procrastination, avoidance, and the like. Even further, navigating those moments might even bring us to unexpected discoveries that themselves can lend to our vision of the creative task. To sort through even these can take its own time.

All this is to say:

Creativity takes the time it takes.

– Kourosh

PS How do you convey the above to a colleague who demands to know “When will it be done?”

PPS Consider the following, perhaps more balanced, article on the matter: Paul Graham’s Maker vs. Manager Schedule: Finding Productivity Balance