Some of the best ways to stay creative in the workplace

We are all born with unbelievable creative capacities. As infants, new ideas become our lives, and through creativity we discover the huge world around us.

But as we grow older we are taught that there is almost always a right answer and a wrong answer to everything. In school we are instructed to solve problems by memorizing answers (2+2=4). As we grow older, we are educated out of our creative capacities, and into an understanding of what works, and what doesn’t.

Why are we educated and taught into believing that creativity (or generating new, valuable ideas) should be avoided? Because new ideas could be a mistake, and we are taught that mistakes are costly.

Mistakes are especially costly for businesses. If there is no guarantee that a project or idea will return an investment for a business, that business will avoid risking a loss of revenue and stick to what they know. If an idea has made money in the past for a business, they will continue to do that idea over and over again.

How can you stay creative at work when creativity is so heavily avoided? By doing the following:

7. Surround yourself with motivation. Customizing your office space is underrated. The guys over at one of the fastest growing companies in the world know that your work environment plays a major roll on your creativity at work; I’m talking, of course, about Google. One look at the Google offices and you’ll realize just how influential toys and other creative inspiration in your work space can be. Surround yourself with colorful, creative things and you will subconsciously feel a bit more free to explore your creativity.

6. Don’t make creativity into work. Avoid turning your creativity into an element of work. Work means something is at stake (often your job) and can really restrict your creativity. Applying rules and restrictions to your creativity through work isn’t good. As Mattias Konradsson once said: “The trick is to teach yourself to ignore rules, conventions, and must-be’s. If you’re creating art, just doodle. If you’re writing, just scribble. If you’re a lawyer, change occupation (source: A List Apart).” 

5. Do something different today. Instead of walking into the office and going through your usual work routine, try something different. Something different can be as simple as talking to coworkers about their weekend before even sitting down at your desk, or drawing (not writing) goals for the day on a piece of paper. Do something different - something new - on a daily basis. D. Keith Robinson said it best when he said: “Trying something you’ve never done will almost certainly get you thinking in new, more creative ways (source: Graphic Define).”

4. Get plenty of rest. You have probably heard this a million times before, but trust me when I tell you that getting plenty of rest will help you greatly through-out your day. When your mind and body are tired, they are not going to cooperate with your commands. Your mind will not have enough energy and focus to create new ideas, let alone work, if it is tired. Take a short power nap on your lunch break, or - if you can afford to - take the rest of the day off and get some sleep at home. Your boss won’t mind the extra boost of energy you’ll have the next day, and your creativity will be running at full throttle if you have had enough rest.

3. Quit worrying about finding inspiration. When your boss puts you on a new project, or when you have to come up with a new idea for the business, you’ll want inspiration. And when that inspiration isn’t coming, the best thing to do is not worry about it. Cartoonist, and professional blogger, Hugh MacLeod hit the nail on the head when he wrote: “[Don’t] fret too much about "writer’s block”, “artist’s block” or whatever. If you’re looking at a blank piece of paper and nothing comes to you, then go do something else. Writer’s block is just a symptom of feeling like you have nothing to say, combined with the rather weird idea that you SHOULD feel the need to say something (source: Gaping Void).“

2. Pamper yourself. Sometimes creativity is fueled simply by giving one’s self all the attention. Taking a few minutes to do whatever it is you want for yourself (like buying that new TV or finishing up a project for yourself) is a great way to change your frame of mind. However, setting aside a few minutes for yourself during the work day may be difficult to do. Ask your boss if you can take 10 minutes for your own projects/whatever, and they may just let you get away with it. And if you work for yourself then there isn’t a problem with setting some time aside for yourself. Go ahead, take a break and pamper yourself a bit. You deserve it (and it will help you stay creative).

1. Find the time when you are most creative. Our body and brains are remarkable machines that run on cycles; and just as there is a good time to sleep, there is a good time for creativity. Identifying when you are most creative can benefit you greatly and help you stay creative through-out the day. "Find out when you’re at your creative best, and start using that time to your advantage; save your least creative time to do the mundane administrative aspects of your job (source: A List Apart).”

Work often hinders creativity, but by surrounding yourself with motivation, not making creativity into work, doing something different everyday, getting plenty of rest, not worrying about finding inspiration, spending some time on yourself, and finding the time when you are most creative, you can easily stay creative in the workplace everyday.