As a child, I thought creativity only meant art, music, and dance; things I liked doing but I wasn’t very good at. In school, I was the kid who used every art supply on my project even though I was only supposed to use yarn and pipe cleaners. I thought my creativity shouldn’t be limited to yarn and pipe cleaners. If there was no glitter, it wasn’t a finished project! Creative meant “more” to me. Where some kids were satisfied following the art teacher’s rules, I broke free! I thought, “Well, Michelangelo wasn’t a rule follower, so neither am I.” But as I grew older, I realized Michelangelo didn’t have to follow rules because he had talent.
As an adult, I have a much broader definition and understanding of creativity. I am not creative in the sense of being artistic, and that’s ok. I’ve learned to surround myself with people who have the skills I lack; that’s my creative problem-solving. I still go down the path of creative overload sometimes, but the people I work with know when to intervene. And while there’s still a part of me that’s upset I never got a BeDazzler, I can agree that it was probably for the best.
It’s now easy for me to see that everyone is creative in their own way, not just those with typically creative jobs. Developers use creativity to code, making an online system come to life. Tax accountants use creativity to analyze finances and tax law. And we all use creativity to problem solve and find new ways to become better at our jobs.
So, since we all need to use creativity at work, whether you’re putting pen to paper, or pointer finger to mouse, we have to try different ways to get our creative juices flowing. ej4’s recently updated Creativity series dives deep into detail on how to get creative at work and use that to solve everyday problems. A new course added this month, “Staying Creative,” will help you keep that momentum going.
In addition to the tips provided in the series, there are other ways to hone in on your creative skills including:
• Do something monotonous: Distract yourself from your thoughts by taking a walk, working in a spreadsheet, clearing out your files, or cleaning off your desk. Sometimes when I’m writing I’ll take a break to play one round of a strategy game or puzzle on my phone, and then go back to writing. It engages the other side of my brain and gives my creative side some downtime.
• Keep your writing/creating tools nearby: Many famous writers started their best-selling works on napkins, but it couldn’t hurt to have something a little more permanent! Don’t forget about smartphone apps such as Notes and Voice Recorder and even keep a dry-erase marker on the bathroom mirror.
• As obvious as it might seem, brainstorm: Two minds are better than one, and so are five or six. We’ve all heard the saying, “there are no bad ideas,” but if you tell the people you’re brainstorming with that all ideas are bad, it takes the pressure and fear off of them to have their ideas rejected.
• Don’t force it: Don’t be one of those people who constantly procrastinate just because they’re “uninspired,” but at the same time give yourself a break! You don't have to be creative 100 percent of the time. If it's not coming naturally, then maybe this isn't the right time to be creative or the right time for your type of creative.
• Surround yourself with creative (and non-creative) people: With Easter coming up, this one especially comes to mind because I’ve always had a hard time dying Easter eggs. I want to add too many colors of dye to an egg and in the end, I’m left with an ugly brown colored egg. It’s good to have both people who inspire you and bring color to your life, and also the ones who can tell you when enough is enough and help you manage your creative ideas.
• Take care of yourself: Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs is no joke! You need to be healthy before you can even think about innovation or imagination. Also, working out to improve your health can help you tap into your subconscious, where great ideas may be hiding. If you’re not into sweating it out at the gym, meditation can have the same effects.
• Use crisis as an opportunity: I think it’s safe to assume that you like to avoid crisis as much as possible, but if you do experience one, use it as a chance to think on your feet and boost your creative power. You’d be surprised how creative of a problem solver you are when you’re forced to be.
• Take risks and break the rules: There’s no “right way” to be creative. Mix it up and don’t be afraid of getting a little• weird. Do something completely unrelated to your discipline. If you’re a writer, paint. If a photographer, draw. Drawing or painting not your thing? Bake something from scratch, without a recipe! My coworkers love the days when I’m baking to get those creative sparks going!
• Flip Your Routine Upside-Down: If you normally drink coffee, drink tea! Make your sandwich in a different order than usual (just don’t forget the bread)! Change your environment/scenery. If you work at a desk all day, find a couch to sit on for an hour or two. Get outside and smell the roses. We are creatures of habit but sometimes that limits our ability to see something new and different, something that could inspire us.
Sign up for a free trial of our Thinkzoom LMS to watch our “Creativity” series and make creativity a bigger part of your life at work and at home. I think you’ll find that you’ll come up with better ideas and enjoy doing the things you already do even more!
You also might enjoy our blog post "Lessons in Creativity from DevLearn."