As writers, creativity is the lifeblood of our work. From searching for the truth of an idea, to understanding the motivations of a character, or simply moving words on a page to make the perfect phrase.
Without it, we’d be lost but its value isn’t limited to just writing. Creativity is now an essential skill for all facets of business. LinkedIn recently revealed creativity was the #1 in-demand soft skill for 2019, based on over 20 million job listings.
So how can we cultivate an environment at work that enables and enhances our creativity. Try these ideas to ignite your imagination and amplify your ability to think differently.
1. Borrow, blend and bastardise
Steve Jobs said, “creativity is just connecting the dots.” The more diverse the dots, the more distinct the outcomes. Chances are you won’t find the answers you need at work, at your work. You’ve got to look outside your current frame of reference. Pay close attention to the ideas, processes and methods used in other areas of your life. How can you find, define and steal inspiration from outside the office, then repurpose it in your role and responsibility?
2. Dim the lights
Humans are visual creatures. What we see often shapes what we think so it’s essential we cultivate a space that enables deep reflection. According to the Journal of Environmental Psychology, dimming the lights downplays a room’s distractions, which encourages freedom of thought and the prolific generation of ideas.
3. Ditch your desk
The same is true of ambient noise. Research tells us that a little bit of background noise – around 50-70 decibels – can enhance creative thinking. By gently and sporadically disrupting our mental processes, it can help us think in more abstract ways. So grabbing the laptop and heading to a quiet cafe isn’t just good for a caffeine hit, it might unlock our next great plot twist.
4. Mess is best
Although a spotless workspace keeps our colleagues happy and our mind focused and productive, research tells us creativity can be increased by a little mess. Kathleen D. Vohs, the lead researcher of a study by the Carlson School of Management says, “Being creative is aided by breaking away from tradition, order, and convention and a disorderly environment seems to help people do just that.”
5. Kill your routine
In a world obsessed with optimisation, taking the scenic route is an act of defiance. But it’s also where we invite serendipity and magic. Don’t be afraid to blow off an afternoon, or reschedule a few meets so you can follow what fascinates you. In the words of Paulo Coelho, author of the international bestseller The Alchemist, “if you think adventure is dangerous, try routine, it’s lethal.”
6. Walk your way to wonder
Research tells us a simple walk stimulates up to 60% more creative thinking than sitting. From Einstein to Edison, Beethoven to Steve Jobs, many brilliant minds have used walking as a way to induce breakthrough creativity. Feeling stuck in a creative rut, get up and out of the house. Let the fresh air fill your lungs and stimulate your imagination.
7. Get uncomfortable
Great stories are driven by a character’s willingness to change. We put them in precarious scenarios that demand they transform to meet the occasion. When was the last time you threw yourself into something that scares you. Maybe it’s public speaking? Or sharing your short stories online? Or putting forward that crazy idea for a project you’ve been sitting on for a while. Throw yourself over the falls and force your creative instincts to surface and lead you forward.
Mykel Dixon is a musician by trade, gypsy by nature and prolific anti-perfectionist moonlighting as an award-winning speaker, creative leadership advisor and event curator. He works with leaders and teams of fortune 500 and ASX 200 listed companies to unleash breakthrough creativity. His latest book Everyday Creative: A Dangerous Guide To Making Magic At Work is now available.