We don’t need to work in a creative industry to feel the benefit of creativity. A creative approach can be useful in many areas from problem-solving and team management to designing a curriculum and planning a recruitment drive.
So how can we find more space for creativity? One tactic is to take a look at our days and notice when it is we feel at our most creative. We all experience some kind of daily rhythm – you’re probably already well aware whether you are a night owl or prefer to be up with the lark. How aware are you of your energy peaks and troughs throughout the rest of the day (or night)? How can you work with this to maximize your output?
Here are some ideas that have arisen through conversations with my clients:
One of my clients, Kate, has started to log her activity each day on a very simple spreadsheet showing her day in half hour increments. She writes a very brief description of the task she was working on at any given point. Kate’s using that to review what time of day she was working on her most creative projects and how they went. She’s finding out when her creativity seems to flow freely and when it feels like she’s walking through treacle.
Another useful aspect to be aware of is your surroundings. Do your ideas bubble to the surface whilst you’re talking with colleagues or do you prefer to be off somewhere quiet? Meeting room or coffee shop? With your usual team members or with someone from a different area of the business? At home? Walking the dog?
Once you think you’ve identified the best times and environment, you can test it out by doing the exact opposite to see how that works out. It will either confirm your suspicions or completely surprise you – sounds like a win-win to me.
Having done all this hard work of noticing your creative peaks, you need to be ready to make the most of those moments. Easy enough when you’re in the office – just grab a pencil and paper – but what if you’re out for a run? On the bus? In the shower?
I have pen and paper in the top drawer of my bedside cabinet as I sometimes find the best ideas strike when I wake. Kate uses the voice memo facility on her phone if she has a flash of ingenuity whilst out on a run. Most of us have written a note on a napkin whilst out for a meal – a friend admits to scribbling notes in eyeliner on her bathroom mirror! How can you capture your creativity wherever you are?
If time is money, then creative time is surely worth its weight in gold. Don’t squander your newly discovered creative peaks by packing them with tasks most suited to your down time. To help him with this, a client, Steve, reviews his task list and sorts them into creative and more routine tasks. He finds that his mind is brimming with ideas in the couple of hours straight after lunch so uses that time to write his copy, saving the invoice-signing for his creative lull first thing in the morning. How can you arrange your day to maximize your output? How determined are you to stick to your plan?
Today’s pebble for you to consider:
When are your creative peaks and how can you make the most of them?
Let me know what you think,
Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.
If you’d like to make progress in your work and life, why not email me to see how we could work together?