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Home » A Powerful Way to Unleash Your Natural Creativity: Tim Harford (Transcript)

A Powerful Way to Unleash Your Natural Creativity: Tim Harford (Transcript)

Tim Harford

Here is the full text and summary of Tim Harford’s talk titled “A Powerful Way to Unleash Your Natural Creativity”. In this TED Talk, Author Tim Harford shares how innovators like Einstein, Darwin, and others found their inspiration and productivity through cross-training their minds.


To do two things at once is to do neither.”

It’s a great smackdown of multitasking, isn’t it, often attributed to the Roman writer Publilius Syrus, although you know how these things are, he probably never said it.

What I’m interested in, though, is — is it true? I mean, it’s obviously true for emailing at the dinner table or texting while driving or possibly for live tweeting at TED Talk, as well.

But I’d like to argue that for an important kind of activity, doing two things at once — or three or even four — is exactly what we should be aiming for. Look no further than.

Albert Einstein. In 1905, he published four remarkable scientific papers. One of them was on Brownian motion, it provided empirical evidence that atoms exist, and it laid out the basic mathematics behind most of financial economics.

Another one was on the theory of special relativity. Another one was on the photoelectric effect, that’s why solar panels work, it’s a nice one. Gave him the Nobel prize for that one. And the fourth introduced an equation you might have heard of: E equals mc squared.

So, tell me again how you shouldn’t do several things at once.

Now, obviously, working simultaneously on Brownian motion, special relativity and the photoelectric effect — it’s not exactly the same kind of multitasking as Snapchatting while you’re watching “Westworld.” Very different.

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