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When working, creativity is my most important tool. It guides me through the challenges of a complex project. It helps me refresh my approach to explore new solutions.
But, creativity doesn’t appear out of nowhere. It’s not the kind of thing you can summon into life as soon as you’re sitting at your desk. Creativity is not a skill; it’s a state of mind – but that’s not to say you can’t train your mind the same way you might train your muscles. So what are some ways we can foster creativity for better workplace performance?
Clutter-free offices free up your mind
The mind wanders when you sit at your desk. Imagine you’re a writer. You’re at your desk, your fingers floating above the keyboard as you wait for an idea to appear. Your eyes instinctively scroll past the contents of your office. The desk is filled with discarded coffee mugs, piles of documents and books that lie flat on top of it all. The shelf behind you spills contents onto the floor: More books, dusty knick-knacks, some stationery still in the packaging and an open bag of chips. Yikes! Messy offices lead to a clogged up mind. Conversely, a clutter-free workplace can do wonders for your imagination.
Sensory experiences improve the imagination
Sensory experiences enhance creativity. Listening to music can take your mind on a journey of self-discovery, emotional enlightenment, or merely melancholy – depending on your playlist. Similarly, the smell of fresh flowers or manipulating gooey playdough can open new horizons. Without senses, the mind doesn’t know how to experience its surroundings. Consequently, sensory deprivation, as a result of a health issue, can represent an obstacle. However, not all situations are without a solution. Perhaps, instead of a downfall, we can view hearing aids as a way to boost creativity. Glasses or dedicated eye surgery as a means to improve our view–not just literally but figuratively, too.
So, here you are, ready to work, but you can’t get your mind off an awkward conversation you had with a friend. You’re still angry about it, and somehow, it remains at the front of your mind. Or maybe it was an altercation with a rude client that occupies all your thoughts? Whatever happened, it’s time to let your mind break free. Take a deep breath and smile. Yes, you read that right: smile. Studies show that the act of smiling can actually trick your brain into thinking you’re happy. (Fake it ’til ya make it!) Consequently, you’ll find the anger, the frustration and all the thoughts about what you could have said will gradually disappear leaving room in your brain for those creative juices to start flowing.
Exploratory mindset and inspiration
If you don’t see or try anything new, it’s fair to say you won’t be able to create anything new. Same old routine leads to same old ideas. As a person seeking creativity, you need to push the boundaries of your comfort zone to explore what is happening on the other side. For some people, this might mean traveling abroad. For others, it could be trying out new activities or going to see films and plays you wouldn’t normally choose. The more you see what you’re not used to, the richer your mind becomes.
Don’t believe the unhealthy artist cliché
Finally, if you’ve been loving the idea of the recluse artist who lives only on coffee and the occasional cigarette, it’s time to reconsider the habits that foster creativity. Indeed, the food you eat affects your brain health. Avocados, for instance, improve cognitive function, both memory and concentration. Beets help with mental performance. Blueberries protect your brain from degeneration and stress. (An idea my mom espoused on a recent visit and now my husband says “PREVENTCHA DEMENTIA!” whenever I pull a tub of bluebs out of the fridge, lol.) In short, a healthy brain can process new ideas quicker and better! So, look after your main creative tool by feeding it right!
How do you deal when you’re in a creativity rut at work? I’d love hearing your tips in the comments!