I wrote this creativity post recently on my Simon Banks page for LinkedIn and wanted to share it.
So, why do you want more creativity in your day? Why would you want to have a more innovative day? Why not have just have a bland, normal, average, business as usual type of day? Well, there are plenty of good reasons.
The recent World Economic Forums Future of Work Report listed creativity as the third most important skill needed to thrive in the future economy and workforce of 2020. Not the 30th, but the third! Creativity is like a muscle. It needs to be worked out to grow and stay strong. In my experience, most people take no time to do something that builds their creativity and their ability to think differently.
The problem with this is that when people get to work, they have little or no creative spark. Despite creativity being the third most important skill needed to thrive in 2020, the ideas, thinking and behavior that is produced is same, not different. BAU is not the skillset needed to thrive in 2020!
Kick starting your creativity, some fresh insight and inspirational thinking isn’t hard at all. Here are simple and easy steps you can try.
Open your eyes to the world
The artist Grayson Perry said that “Artists notice things that other people miss.” You can replace the word Artists with Innovators. Innovators are people make connections and notice opportunities that other people miss. Innovators, Designers and Artists are great listeners and observers. They are constantly on the lookout for fresh stimulus and inspiration. They make a deliberate effort to tune into the world around them. They are inspired by their environment.
There is so much going on around us that is missed when we don’t open our eyes and see. As an example, if you are on public transport on the way to work, turn off your smart phone. Observe what you see and be curious. Look up, look around and write it down what you see. Use your phone as a camera. Create a folder on your phone called the most amazing ideas. Check in with it all the time.
Think about a problem you are wanting to solve at work. By opening your eyes see what and looking at what is around you, you can gain some extra insight for that problem. The more stimulus and ideas, the better.
There are great ideas and inspiration everywhere if you open your eyes and truly see what is happening in the world around you. Turn off your social media and get a little curious!
Eat a healthy breakfast
A good breakfast is not only important for your creativity but your general productivity, performance and happiness. Luckily, Australia
seems to be in a healthy food revolution at the moment so the idea of something so most people are open to eating something other than toast and Vegemite for breakfast.
A 2014 study said that young adults who ate more fruit and vegetables reported higher average eudemonic well-being, more intense feelings of curiosity, and greater creativity compared with young adults who ate less fruit and vegetables.
A recent article from Creative Something listed a number of food that can have a positive effect on your creativity, These include:
- Kale (A current wonder food) and other leafy greens
- Lots of water
- Olive Oil and Peanut Oil
A great way to think about this is ask, “What is the best fuel that my body needs to perform at it’s absolute peak today?” Whilst everyone will have a different preference for what works best, a bowl of Fruit Loops with Pepsi won’t be setting off long term brain fireworks anytime soon.
Walking has a profound effect on creativity. According to a recent Stanford Study, 81% of the participants saw an increase in creativity when they were walking.
If you are like many people who get into the car, drive to work and then park underneath the building, chances are you have done minimal exercise before work. Many Australians sit at their desk for 8-10 hours/day. This is on top of an average of 13 hours/week of TV watching whilst sitting and then travelling to work for another possible 1-3 hours each day. Doing the quick math’s, that’s a lot of sitting time! If you can’t get out and do any exercise before heading to work, take 5 – 10 minutes to have a walk before you sit down at your desk and move regularly during the day.
Exercise releases dopamine into the brain which makes you feel good. The dopamine also increases the free flow of information around the brain, enabling the left and right hemispheres to connect and share great ideas.
I appreciate that exercise takes time and time is very precious. If you think you cannot fit in any exercise, go to bed earlier and resist the temptation to scour social media as your last thing you do at night in bed. A quick 5 minutes before bed turns into 30…… (My personal struggle). As I recently heard many oldies and Politicians say about Sydney’s lock out laws said, nothing good happens after 12pm anyway.
Getting up early also means that you can focus on getting great work done before other people’s priorities become yours. There are numerous examples of highly successful people who rise early to fit in time for exercise, goal setting or creative thinking. Speaking of what successful people….
Block out time for creative thinking – Try Journaling
Our attention span is now less than that of a goldfish. Combine this with the amount of distractions available to you on your computer when you sit down at work……
- What’s the cricket score?
- What has Trump said?
- God not another email from Stanley – I am working on it you freaking meathead!
- Wow, that cat looks like Elvis
- Is that Jesus appearing on the vegemite toast?
It can be very hard to block out time for a clear mind and creative thinking.
If you struggle with getting some quiet time to think and release all the great ideas stored in your subconscious, try writing in a journal. There are numerous other health benefits besides creativity from journaling including mindfulness, clarity, boosting memory and emotional intelligence. Writing your thoughts down is a great way to let your creativity flow without judgement and fear of what others will think.
If you are short of time, try the 5 minute Journal. As it says, It literally takes 5 minutes a day and lets you set the day’s agenda and start on a positive note. Journaling first thing in the morning also lets you access the great thoughts that have been flowing around in your brain overnight instead of being consumed by the first bit of news that you look at on your phone. It’s a great way to review and feel grateful about what has happened in the day as well.
Another way to approach it is to make your first 15 minutes at work a time to plan, breathe in deeply and do something that requires your creativity and your best intellect rather than smashing through a crowded inbox. Remove all distractions, put your phone and computer on silent and have a clear mind to focus on your clearest and creative thinking.
Creativity is not about set and forget. It needs constant nurturing. With the pace of industry disruption and market change, creativity and fresh thinking are more important than ever to thrive.
Even a very small change in your morning routine is a great way to start and to improve the quality of your creative output for the day. All great habits start with small and repeated actions.
What are your regular daily habits to set you up for the day? I would love to hear about any regular habits to boost your creativity and have and have an amazing/productive/happy day.
About Author: Simon Banks is an author and International Keynote speaker on creativity and innovation and recovering artist. He’s delivered over 1300 events across the globe. He’s the Director of creative training company VisualFunk, known for running innovation workshops, conferences and design sprints to brew fresh thinking and develop market-leading ideas. His book A Thousand Little Lightbulbs: How to kickstart a culture of Innovation in your Organisation is out now.