• dairbrown

S2/E13: Design Systems That Fuel Your Creativity by Srinivas Rao

Updated: Aug 2, 2021

This week, we’re reviewing: Design Systems that Fuel Your Creativity with Srinivas Rao presented on the CreativeLive platform. It was first offered in June 2019.

Rao hosts the Unmistakable Creative Podcast and has authored five books, including An Audience of One Reclaiming Creativity for Its Own Sake, Unmistakable: Why Only is Better Than Best, The Art of Being Unmistakable, The Small Army Strategy and The Scenic Route: What I’ve Learned from a Life That Hasn’t Turned Out The Way I Thought It Would. He’s also a speaker and does some one-on-one creativity coaching. He reads 60+ books a year and writes and releases shorter pieces every single day and two big articles a week.

He accomplishes this by being highly focused on creating flow conditions on demand. He produces most of his work during two daily hours of UNINTERRUPTED creativity. He firmly believes that if you focus on creating the conditions to allow a flow state, you’ll see big changes in your creativity and your productivity. This course is designed to help you do just that.

There’s a lot here, but like usual, I’m just here to give you a taste. Here are my…

Three Things

1. Do as much as you can to eliminate the need for willpower, especially in your physical environment. He offers a wide range of tactics here, among them the Marie Kondo-esque “keep only what you love and clear out clutter” philosophy. He also embraces what he calls “environmental math” — AKA one-in-one-out. But physical clutter isn’t the only thing he targets. He also urges you to eliminate those things that aren’t working for you in your digital environment. Here we see some of the things Jessica Brody mentioned in her class (e.g turn off your phone, leave it out of the room, use tools like RescueTime, consider working analog for the first few hours of the day). He has a zero-tolerance policy for ANY negativity in his digital world. He uses Unroll Me and will cut toxic ties on Social Media without hesitation. He contends that these things affect your energy, which will, in turn, affect both your work and your very environment.

2. Be deliberate about both what you consume and you create. You’ll get more out of whatever you choose to access. For instance, he chooses 3-4 podcasts and newsletters/blogs, believe that if you consume an excessive amount of information, you lose the depth. He also encourages you to make a point to regularly “consume content in the medium in which you are creating.” For example, if you write books, read books. Alternatively, you can be intentional about the content you’re consuming by choosing around a topic and consume different types of media with a common style, theme, or topic.

3. Look for ways to connect with others. Find community and collaborations, where you can. This is sort of the ubuntu concept. (Though he doesn’t refer to it.) If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. Three keys to successful collaboration: confidence, commitment, and trust (no ego or envy), and, of course, complementary skillsets don’t hurt.

*Hack: If you’re a Facebook user, consider getting the “Facebook Newsfeed Eradicator” for your browser. It allows you to see your memberships to groups (and to search for any particular person’s posts), but it blocks out your feed itself and replaces it with an inspiring quote. I would love to be off Facebook altogether, but there are a few groups that are organized on Facebook that I would like to remain involved with. This allows me to do that without getting sucked into the black hole of the newsfeed with all its negativity and hyper energy.

*Bonus Hack: Try meditation, but make it regular. Design a meditation practice (2 minutes 7 days a week is better than 30 minutes one day a week). He just uses “Box Breathing,” which is a breath pattern where the inhalation, exhalation, and two held breath segments are equal in time.

I’ll continue with the twofer them and offer two of my favorite quotes this time:

“Design environments conducive to the person you want to become.”
“When you want to increase your attention span, decrease the number of things that are competing for it.”
Srinivas Rao, Design Systems that Fuel Your Creativity

If you go straight through the lessons, this course will take you a little under four hours. Most lessons are around ten to twenty minutes. I have the CreativeLive app on my phone, but CreativeLive is available anywhere you can get a web browser. I’ve streamed it to my computer, iPad, and TV before with great success.

You might want to consider checking out some of Rao’s books for more on the topics of creativity, productivity, and flow.


There are lots of other great writing classes in CreativeLive that you can check out, but also classes around the subjects of photo/video production, money/life management, art/design, crafts, and music/audio production.

You can access CreativeLive classes in multiple ways:

  1. CreativeLive streams free courses every single day.

  2. Also possible to buy your courses. This one is listed for $49 (on sale from $98).

  3. Also possible to get all access passes. $39 a month or $149 for annual pass ($12.41/mo).

I’d say most classes will cost between around $15 and $75, but some fall outside that range. Right now, CreativeLive has a $15 coupon for both of us!

Next week I’ll be reviewing Your First 1000 Books by Tim Grahl, offered as a class on CreativeLive.

Until then. . .

Happy writing, people!


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