Creativity is one of the most important skills to hone throughout your working life. It’s also the toughest one to exercise.
How do you ensure your creative muscle is flexed in work on a daily basis? Can you name a point today at work where you can say you were creative? What about yesterday?
When you have a to-do list full of daily tasks that don’t always require creative flourishes, it can be hard to nail down time to incorporate this skill into your day.
However, practising creativity on a daily basis is an important habit that you must keep alive, even if your work doesn’t directly call for it.
In the age of automation and the future of work, it is uniquely human skills such as creativity that will guarantee we are prepared.
So, how can you ensure you’re putting proper emphasis on creativity at work? We’ve got some simple tips that will put you in a better mindset.
Designate time to brainstorm
The first thing you need to do to emphasise creativity at work is to give it proper priority. Setting aside time to plan, brainstorm or simply think might feel like you’re not really working because you’re not getting tasks done, but this is not the case.
Start getting into the mindset that taking time to think creatively and brainstorm new ideas is an essential part of your job. Looking for the right moment? Choose a time when you’re usually less productive, even a bit tired. Studies show this puts your brain in a much better ‘free roaming mode’, which is better for creativity.
Optimise your work station
Prepping your mind for some creative thinking might mean a change of scenery. While brighter lights and total silence can be especially good for focusing and maximising productivity, dim lighting and ambient noise can help get your creativity flowing.
You might need to move to a different part of the office with softer lights and stick your headphones on, listening to some light rain or seaside noises from apps such as Noisli, but it will be worth it.
Bring ideas to completion
Coming up with ideas can be inspiring and can really boost your creativity. However, simply coming up with ideas is not enough to truly hone your creative skills.
Being creative means bringing ideas from the first brainstorming stage through to completion. Even if the actual execution can’t be done right away, it’s important to think ideas all the way through so that your creativity can hold its own by coming up with feasible, workable plans or solutions.
Take a break and doodle
If you still feel a little bit like you’re slacking off when you’re sitting at your desk deep in creative thought, you will need to eradicate that myth quickly. Once you’ve spent a proper amount of time exercising your creativity and brainstorming ideas, you will realise how taxing it can be.
Take a break from your brainstorming session to doodle. This will relax your mind but it will also bring your brain into that ‘free roaming mode’ we talked about. Equally, taking a break from your usual tasks to doodle can help unlock your creativity, even when you don’t have time to give it proper attention.
Play to your strengths
Another common misconception about creativity is that it involves art and pretty pictures and other such visual things. Someone who considers themselves extremely logical and straightforward might think creativity is out of their reach.
But creativity doesn’t belong exclusively on a well-drawn mind map or visually pleasing Venn diagram. All it involves is coming up with something new, and whether that takes place on a chart, an online app or an Excel spreadsheet, it doesn’t matter. Look at your strengths and harness creativity from there.
Write something down
The hardest part of being creative is actually starting a creativity session. While that might sound a bit naff, you might notice that all of these tips revolve around setting aside some specific time especially for being creative, and then protecting that time.
So, when you’ve done all of that, it’s time to actually make that time worthwhile. Outline some goals that you want to get out of your creativity sessions, spend some time thinking about those goals and coming up with ideas, and then write something down. Write anything down. You have to start somewhere and Newton’s first law of motion means that if you start moving on something, you’re more likely to keep going. If you don’t start moving, you’re more likely to stay still.
Finally, while deadlines might seem like the enemy of freely roaming creativity, applying light pressure to yourself makes you more likely to come up with ideas, rather than simply sitting there thinking that you can’t come up with anything.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to complete one big project in a very short space of time – there’s a reason that people think deadlines are in fact the enemy of creativity. But don’t give yourself endless time to stare into the abyss of a blank page either. Coaxing yourself to think of new ideas under pressure can really help your creativity take flight.