8 tips for harnessing your creativity
Nadia shares her top tips for harnessing your creativity at work – whatever your job may be
Creativity is at the heart of every business – for some it’s writing, composing, photography or styling, and for others it is product innovation, research and business planning.
When you’re busy, there’s a risk you’ll find yourself bogged down in day-to-day admin – emails, accounting and meetings, frantically rushing from task to task while juggling family, too. You can find yourself lacking inspiration and motivation, to the detriment of the bigger picture.
How do you get back into the groove and find your inner creative genius?
A huge aspect of my job is recipe-writing, testing, styling and photography – it’s a creative process that absorbs a large amount of time and energy. So over the years I’ve learned a little about managing my own creativity to ensure I don’t feel burned out. Here are my top tips for staying at your creative best:
1 Schedule creative time
Take a mini mind break! This can simply be a day away from work, or you can head to the beach, go for a walk or spend a night or two away if you have time. To be effective you actually need to switch off, so no checking your work emails, computer or phone.
Do what makes you happy, whatever that is. You’ll find you’re more creative and most productive when you are out doing what you love. It’s at that moment when you switch off that your subconscious seems to begin firing ideas again. I’ve heard this works in all sorts of places – tramping, long-distance driving, running, in the shower, swimming, surfing, skiing or gardening. I’ve even heard of ideas coming together while washing the car! Give your mind a break by doing whatever makes you spark – you might be surprised what you dream up.
2 Spend time on projects, not tasks
Administration is a real creativity killer, and while it is essential to file your tax return on time, you need to ensure you’re not hampering your productivity by climbing an endless mountain of admin. The solution?
Use the morning to work on projects only. Those first two to three hours in the morning are the best. Don’t open your emails or schedule any meetings, and put your phone on silent. For many people, this is when the brain is at its sharpest and you’re most ready to settle into a few hours of solid work.
Break projects into bite-sized pieces. Generally, a large project can be broken down into lots of smaller projects. Write down each step and create a plan with a realistic timeframe for how you’ll be able to approach each one.
3 Avoid distractions
Try working in 25-minute time blocks. Time yourself for 25 minutes and set yourself a piece of a project to complete in that time, then take a five-minute break (grab a glass of water, do some stretches, get some fresh air) before starting the next 25-minute task.
Prioritise. Not all projects are created equal. This doesn’t mean to say they aren’t important, but the timing of them mightn’t be as critical. Learn to cherry-pick which projects will give you the best bang for your buck.
4 Build your zen space
You are the result of your work environment. I find my thinking is clearer in an uncluttered, clean but relaxed space. I know people who completely buck this trend and love being surrounded by clutter, and others who can only work in a minimalist-style white room. Find your own style and stick to it.
“Give your mind a break by doing whatever makes you spark – you might be surprised what you dream up. ”
5 Plug in
Some people love listening to music, others prefer silence. For me personally, I either have to have soft background music or the sound of the birds outside. If you have co-workers in close proximity a decent set of earphones will help.
6 Outsource and automate
It’s tempting to try to do everything but don’t. Employ the experts to do what they do. A lot of business admin can now be outsourced or automated, – from finance to fulfilment – leaving precious time for you to work on what you do best. Spend some time researching this area; the results will be worth it.
7 Start the day right
Eat well, sleep well (avoid late-afternoon caffeine) and exercise. If you adhere to these simple rules you’ll find you have more energy in the morning to cope with the family routine, while preparing your mind for what needsto be achieved each day.
At the end of each day, write down the projects and tasks that need to be completed the next day. You’ll sleep better knowing you’ve got these down on paper and it will help give you a blueprint for what needs to be done in the morning.
8 Don’t force creativity
Brainstorming in different kinds of fun ways always gives the best results. These can still be structured meetings, but in a relaxed environment (think good food and wine). The other trick is to surround yourself with like-minded people – somehow good ideas always surface when you’re discussing an opportunity with people who are on a similar wavelength to you and know what you’re trying to achieve.
Words by: Nadia Lim.
To be doing what I am today is a dream come true. It all started when I was 12 years old. I was watching TV after school one day and Jamie Oliver was cooking up a storm on The Naked Chef.