We would all like to become more creative. Enhancing creativity can impact nearly every corner of our work lives – problem solving, ideation, innovation. However, with all we are expected to accomplish on a daily basis, we rarely have time to consider our own creative blueprint – a unique set of "triggers" that can help us harness creative energy. Aligning our creative needs can be a critical step in reaching our potential. But, as we become busier and busier, it seems we have limited time to make room for creativity in our day-to-day work lives. We attempt to adapt to the work-life scenario that is presented, and forge on.
In many cases, work environments simply do not mesh with the "creative core" of an individual. You may work remotely, but feel the need for face-to-face interaction with your colleagues. You may work on a team, but find you are more effective when you have time to process information on your own. There can be a clear "mismatch" between the person and the specific elements of their work environment. At some point you must stop, listen and attempt to make much needed adjustments.
Even if you find yourself in the right career and the right job – fine tuning certain qualities of your work life may help you to become more creative. There are many things to consider. But at the core of this, are your individual needs – your creative blueprint.
A few things to consider:
*Your physical workspace. What makes you feel creative? There is no right or wrong answer to this question – it's a bit like a Rorschach assessment and individual to you – but it should be posed. Look around your work environment and ask yourself: What in your current space enhances your creative energy? For example, consider the aspects of sound, light and color in your environment. Whether listening to music or viewing your favorite painting puts you in the right frame of mind – find a way to incorporate these elements into your work environment.
*Your "influencer" group. Include people in work life that you consider "creativity accelerators" – those individuals who will explore and develop ideas with you. Don't have access to a group that has these qualities? Develop one. Whether these individuals work within your own organization or are accessible through online channels, build your own "community of creativity." (Learn more about that here.)
*Look for opportunities to collaborate. Creativity can be enhanced when we are exposed to varying functions and perspectives. Find ways to contribute to teams and projects that are somewhat outside your comfort zone – even if this means organizing dedicated time to do so. Work alone at home? Seek a co-working environment and link up with others outside your realm.
*Idea management strategies. Do you have a system in place to capture your ideas? If you have skipped this step, you may not maximize your creative potential. Find a method to record and review your moments of inspiration. Mount a vision board in your office – or keep a notebook ever ready. (Even Da Vinci had notebooks.) You'll instantly boost your creative potential.
*Manage yourself. Do you tend to have a "cluttered" mind that stops you from focusing your creative energy? Do you find you process information better on your own? Try to match your creative blueprint to how you work. If you need "quiet time" to process, seek this out. If you become distracted easily, develop a strategy that set limits and helps you to focus.
*Don't force it. Consider rest and reflection within your creative blueprint. Stimulating the senses is integral to maximizing creativity, however the benefits of down time – when your brain has the opportunity to process information – is just as critical. Studies have found that your brain requires rest to perform at its peak. Build time into your day to process. Doodle, play a game or take a brief walk around – your brain is still working on a deeper level.
You have some measure of control over your own "culture of creative." What are your creative strategies? Share them here.
Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist who specializes in workplace success strategies and organizational change. She helps individuals, teams and organizations develop intelligently—to meet work life challenges with a sense of confidence and empowerment.