What is the Optimal Amount of Time for Creative Thinking?

IFPRI just concluded its two-day annual workshop for its entire staff from all over the world. One of the small group sessions I attended focused on developing a more creative work environment. It challenged me to think about what I do to promote my own creativity and that of my team. I can say that I spend most of my time at work doing whatever tasks are required from my bosses or from projects I run. Unfortunately, this leads one to react rather than act proactively.

But to make a real difference in the world, especially in helping to eliminate poverty and malnutrition, one needs to think creatively, both to identify real problems in the present and those of the future, and to develop creative solutions. Assuming I can control some of my time at work, I wonder how much of a typical work-week would be optimal to devote to creative thinking? My intent is to try to begin with one two-hour block each week, and see how that will work. I’m betting it will help with morale, if nothing else, but I also bet it will help make me more efficient in the rest of my time, and in the longer-term, help define and write a fundable proposal for a donor. Presumably, a well-conceive plan will do more to bear fruit in the fight against poverty than some of the other projects that may lack the same creativity.

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