Time Bucket Convergence Constraints

As creative outliers tend to be dealing with fairly unbounded sets of idea much of the time, the issue of convergence comes up often. How do we focus our idea flow on something concrete and small enough to actually complete? Much of the world may have a hard time imagining having too many ideas and too many options. But creative outliers know first hand that this can be the curse that accompanies the blessing of simply having MORE. 

Bay Manning a brilliant Silicon Valley San Francisco Bay Area philosopher I know does not like to refer to people as gifted. He says it just creates problems down the line so he calls people who are gifted as those who simply have MORE. More ideas, more options, more opportunities and of course more problems because to be exceptional is also to be excluded (from the Bell Curve). The world is mostly designed to accommodate people within the Bell Curve.

In any case there is an extremely simple way to apply a force of convergence to ones creative process. Apply constraints. Only play in one key, one draw in black and white, only take pictures with last years phone.  Of course there are also infinite constraints one could imagine which sends us down yet another infinite gifted MORE habit hole. 

This calls for an even simpler constraint and calling forth the one that is generally applied to all of us usually expressed as I need this by ____________.  Basically hardly anyone wants to pay people to do what they do not know how to do. They like to pay you for something that you already know how to do. I had the good fortune to manage to avoid this for fifteen years by being in research at Bose and at Apple where I was actually paid to do things I did not yet know how to do. At least some of the time. Eventually people do like to see results. 

Basically the entire hardware tech world until fairly recently in part due to the global pandemic, used trade shows as the time to introduce new products. We all knew that there were particular times when we had to demonstrate something that work or at least mostly worked. The software folks moved away from this earlier when they realized they could have successful product introductions online especially if they were tech giants who already had decent market share. 

Now it is appearing that all of this time consuming expensive flying around and staying hotels to rub shoulders with thousands of your closest sort of friends, colleagues and contacts may not be necessary. Of course our shared hybrid future will still have trade shows because they do generate sales and are also fun (kind of – at least for the first ten years of them).

As we creative outliers are increasingly supervising ourselves and in our own spaces convergence can become a real issue. Last night I discovered I had been carrying around a solution in my pocket for ten years.  Sometimes creative outliers can know things that no one else knows, and other times there are things that everyone knows but evidently I don’t. This was pointed out to me fairly early to me by my little sister in trying to explain to others what on earth I was up to.

Back to the simple solution I could have just put forth 500 words ago but hey context is important. 

Did you ever use a stopwatch with a lap timer or just assume these were for people swimming or running laps. I discovered by accidentally swiping the timer in my iPhone that there was a beautiful chronograph lap timer built into every Apple Clock app which of course means counting up all of th phones and tablets I won that I guess I have a dozen lap counter timers. And why should I care you are saying?

Here is the use case I find myself in as a composer who sometimes needs to write, perform and record pieces of music of specified durations. And say there is a part A, a part B and a part C rattling around in your mind that you want to get out. Actually it is more like there are an infinite number of part A’s and maybe twenty part B’s and more of a glimmer of a part C but of course all of this is situation dependent and time varying.

Here is where the stopwatch with the lap button, that I did not know I always had with me or even wanted or needed comes in.  Sing or play your musical idea first starting the stopwatch and then when you get to where the next section begins click the Lap button, and continue until you have mapped out the larger arc of a piece. When you are done you will not only have the total elapsed time but also all of the separate parts all nicely mapped out with different colors and different durations (if desired).

Since for me music is kind of infinite applying the constraint of simply filling a time bucket turns out to be a fantastic easy portable and free tool. All of you may already know this but it was news to me and a terrific constraint to the creative process which I am sure to apply to many other things the music now that I know it is in my pocket.  Since I have not had a boss or external pressures to get things done by specific times for much of my life, and I was not swimming or running laps with my smart phone since it would not be invented yet for decades it simply never occurred to me that a lap counter timer would be of any use at all but guess what it may be more useful than the majority of the tools I have and I have a lot fo tools with over 300 apps in phone and another 300 apps on my computers.

This may be in the category of something everyone else knew and I didn’t but it makes me realize that in some ways having MORE may actually be LESS.

Check out this cool feature of the free clock on your phone. I knew about the alarms and the countdown timer and the world clock and the stopwatch from day one but never noticed the lap timer counter – who knows maybe it was not there before as these phones continue to grow in capability so rapidly that no one person knows all they can do today, never mind in the future.