Mind Management Not Time Management by David Kadavy

David Kadavy's book focuses on the creative process and building system that allows you to be more productive and creative.
Mind Management, Not Time Management

Very few non-fiction books keep my attention from cover to cover. Mind Management Not Time Management is one of these books. David Kadavy's book focuses on the creative process and building system that allows you to be more productive and creative.

Part of the reason I enjoyed this book so much is that the timing was right for me. I was beginning to explore content creation for my website and newsletter, and David's approach was refreshing.

Of course, now I see the concepts described in this book all over the place. I'm assuming many of these ideas are not new (just new to me at the time), but I think the way they are presented in this book was helpful.

Here are a few key concepts that I gathered from the book.

Divergent and Convergent Thinking

So the challenge in doing more and better writing, or the challenge in any creative work, is to balance divergent thinking with convergent thinking. You need to generate ideas, but you'll move forward with only the best ideas. As you complete your final product, you need to put on the finishing touches. - David Kadavy

We need to allow our minds to wander among a wide variety of things (Divergent Thinking) so that we can be creative. Then we need to focus (Convergent Thinking) to produce something from these ideas.

Four Stages of Creativity

There are four stages we go through when being creative. First, we learn about the problem or idea (Preparation). Next, we allow our minds to think about it in the background (Incubation). We then have our "aha" moment (Illumination), where it all comes together. Then we evaluate what we discovered (Verification).

Seven Mental States of Creative Work

There are seven states that we're in when doing creative work. We often try to do each of these (or some of these) at the same time. Understanding that they are separate states can help us optimize each.

  1. Prioritize - Create a plan.
  2. Explore - Follow your curiosity.
  3. Research - Find specific answers.
  4. Generate - Create the product.
  5. Polish - Edit and polish.
  6. Administrate - Taking care of the work required so the creative work can even occur.
  7. Recharge - Rest.

Creative Constraints

Being creative requires some amount of structure. Without it, you'll spend your time and energy on the wrong things. Creating a system to manage your creative process frees your mind to be creative.

Don't push too hard on creative blocks. Instead, soften then through Preparation. Why? The answer lies in the limitations of the human mind. When we come up with a creative idea, we connect seemingly unrelated concepts. But to find connections that work, we need to try many different combinations. - David Kadavy


The book goes into much more detail and is full of short stories and tips that will help you be more productive, especially when it comes to creativity.

I have followed David Kadavy's work ever since reading this book. His website, Twitter, newsletter, and podcast are packed full of helpful information. He seems down-to-earth and relatable. I also just finished his new book Digital Zettelkasten: Principles, Methods, & Examples.

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