Being Creative at Work

By: Marie Donlon

The success of most companies comes not from doing the same thing the same way over and over again, but usually from the new ideas and creations of those employed by the company.

“Creativity is just connecting things," Apple co-founder Steve Jobs once said in an interview. "When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That's because they were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesize new things."

Yet, most of us don’t work for companies that allow us to stretch our creative muscles that far. As such, anytime a project comes along that requires a bit of creative thinking or innovation, we might encounter roadblocks.

Here are just a few suggestions for inviting creative and innovative ideas while in the workplace.

Stand Up During Meetings

By conducting meetings with all participants standing, people are more likely to be alert and thus capable of contributing new and potentially innovative ideas. This move will change the energy in the room and people will become a bit more enthusiastic. Also consider moving your meeting to a room you don’t often use or even, weather permitting, take the meeting outside. Moving the venue to a different location is likely to inspire new ideas.

Decorate

Dedicate a spot in your office with things that you’ve encountered over time that bring you inspiration, whether it is a line from a book or a piece of fabric that you fell in love with, make sure to display it as a reminder of something that evoked a response in you.

Creating a space that is cloaked in items you find inspiring may inspire you to look at projects or problems in the workplace differently.

Friendship

Having an innovation pal — i.e., someone you can discuss ideas with — might be all that is necessary to innovate. Together, you can have conversations that might lead to inspiring new ideas. Your easy rapport might help you to clear your head, making way for those ideas, innovative and not.

Even just an easy exchange about what is going on in your personal life might lead to creative ideas. There is considerable value in having someone to bounce ideas off of.

Get Out

Take a walk outside and get away from your desk. Everyone — from artists to engineers alike — take inspiration from nature. Whether the inspiration leads to a life-saving device or simply a beautiful piece of work, getting out lets you escape the doldrums of your desk (that is, of course, if you don’t have it decorated accordingly). Escaping a project or a problem for a matter of minutes will let you revise the problem and or project with fresh eyes upon your return.

Consume It

Listen to music that you love or read one of your favorite authors or genres as a way to encourage creative thought. Taking a few minutes to escape by listening to or reading something you love can set you on the path to creativity once again. If you find it a struggle to fit this kind of indulgence into your day, perhaps wake up earlier or stay up later in an effort to make sure it becomes a part of your daily life.

Check back next week for part 2.