Despite the government’s timetable out of lockdown moving forward as planned, remote working is here to stay in some form or other. It’s likely that ‘Zoom fatigue’ and other symptoms of working at home will already have left many of us feeling a bit uninspired and lacking in ideas.
Business owners must make sure they maintain a culture of creativity, which we all know is essential to the longterm ability of a company to adapt, innovate and problem-solve. Staying creative is vital for the mental well-being of team members, too, supporting strong engagement within any organisation and providing many opportunities for professional growth.
Improving cohesion and collaboration among diverse teams will be critical to ensuring that ideas don’t get lost, and that greater innovations and insights will emerge to give the business a lead over competitors.
The following 10 guidelines will help founders of businesses of all sizes – and their employees – keep creativity a central part of their culture.
1) Tune out of the anxiety and confusion
Which is still all around us at the moment. This really does heavily impact our ability to be creative and innovative. Instead, find things to immerse yourself in regularly, such as reading, writing, drawing, making; even doing something like an adult colouring-in book. These are very effective ways to settle back into ourselves and our creative wisdom by reducing the cortisol levels in our system. Create regular 5-10 minute windows throughout the day where you can do these activities, and stick to your commitment.
2) Find a different space to work in
This could be as simple as moving rooms or relocating your work station to a different area. Sometimes simply shifting your desk to a different space in the room for a day can make a huge difference to your ideas and productive flow. A change in viewpoint generates a change of stimulus to the brain, and therefore new connections can form. Remember that the best ideas have come from people being in the bath and hanging out under apple trees, so those different spaces really do work.
3) Get outside early in the morning and breathe
Walk. Run. Stretch. Look up at the sky. Moving and looking around you regularly are powerful ways to shift perspective. Open the window for a cold blast of air intermittently – even if it’s freezing! It helps keep us alive and roused and reminds us that absolutely everything is connected in one way or another.
4) Challenge the old narrative of ‘doing’
The concept of productivity has been with us since the industrial revolution. It makes us overwrite our to-do lists and feel guilty if we aren’t constantly ‘doing’. Our best ideas and smartest sense comes when we’re doing activities that aren’t directly related to work, however (see tips 1 and 3 above!). Say no or push back on tasks that can’t be done without putting yourself under extreme pressure, and renegotiate realistic timelines. Speaking up to set boundaries and manage expectations is crucial.
5) Question everything
Ask ‘what if?’ Entertain the concept of the opposite being true. Let your brain expand and play. Look from the sides you don’t yet understand. Dare to be bold. Dare to play. Dare to fail. Dare to imagine the most flawed idea being perfect. If we can get comfortable with being uncomfortable then we really can start to access some unknown creative realms within ourselves.
6) Entertain the unusual
Find new possibilities and stretch them to the absurd. Take things to the ‘nth’ degree. The genius is usually hiding within the most outlandish ideas, but we tend not to go there for fear of looking or feeling ridiculous. Creative people go there because they know that it is always worth it. There’s so much to explore in the outerland and the best idea quite often resides there.
7) Laugh. A lot
Find the humour in things. Listen to and watch comedy regularly. It releases the mind and opens us up to new things. Plus a good laugh can really pump some extra oxygen to the brain.
8) Enjoy downtime
Nap, dream, take a long shower or bath. Lounge, laze and loll about. When we do this, great ideas like to come and play.
9) Do something you loved to do as a child
Blowing bubbles, making little things out of Fimo or Lego… We are never too old to play and we should plunge ourselves into the things that bring us joy every single day.
Write ideas, thoughts and randomness down whenever you fancy it (and even when you don’t). Have a few ‘scribble pads’ to hand. Don’t censor anything, just write. It doesn’t matter about your handwriting. In fact, the messier the better. Scrawls contain the kernels of our deepest imagination. And sometimes the unexpected can show up visually without us even aiming for it to happen.
Dannie-Lu Carr is a senior training consultant in leadership, managing change and utilising creativity in business. She is also a multi-disciplined creative practitioner.