How do we inject more creativity into our business – conceptualising, planning, implementing — and find the time to do so? Working in fixed time slots is seemingly impossible with today’s demands on our time. Tablet computers, smart phones, e-mails and the Internet are all meant to save time but our e-mail boxes are brimming every day and continuous disruptions from associates in company cubicle land have become the norm. Finding time to create before the workday begins has its merits but it’s not always easy to do with morning traffic, urgent and “unforseen” crises and cell phone calls. Continue reading “Finding time to create #4 Ignite your creativity”
Times like these draw the best out of us. We need to dig deep and pull on our inner resources. Wealth and value creation take on a new importance. What are we doing to increase our sales? How much money are we leaving on the table? How can we get our products faster to market? What innovations on the backburner can we fast forward? Are our selling and promotion campaigns achieving the results we require? How can we transform our hobbies and interests into money making opportunities?
It takes more than hard work in tough times. Innovation is more important than we think. Joe Vitale points out in “The 7 lost secrets of success” that Bruce Barton, the second “B” in BBDO (the famous Batten, Barton, Durstine, and Osborn agency), became chairman of the board of BBDO in September 1928 when the agencies became one. The agency had 113 clients, 600 employees, and billings of $32.6 million in their first year — the first year of the Great Depression. Can you believe that? A business based on ideas making truckloads of money in the worst of times.
You may have all the best intentions in the world. You may have decided that you want to be more creative and produce more ideas to benefit your personal or business life. You may be inspired to create more ideas. Now what? You’ve got your week laid before you and have decided that you will spend a half an hour each morning to produce ideas.
Monday comes – you wake up late. Monday evening you are too tired to think creatively about generating ideas. Just as well because you can’t force creativity. Tuesday comes around and you have a meeting at eight o’clock and will to wake up half an hour early if you want to produce ideas. Perhaps you could find a quiet place with the right atmosphere to produce ideas. And so it goes.
Viewing producing ideas as some activity that you have to do at set, allocated times can be too forced, out of kilter with the inner human creative process. For those who are extremely self disciplined, it can help to allocate a set time. Creativity can’t be viewed as some add on to your life: it needs to be part of your way of living. Let me explain.
Almost anything you do every day can benefit from creative thinking. If you are planning a project, an event, a consulting proposal, a creative work such as a painting, a photographic shoot – all of these will have greater impact with pre-thinking, visualisation and imagining possibilities. You need to build creativity into important tasks in a seamless way.
With many tasks to do in a week, how can you find time to produce more creative ideas?
How do you integrate creativity into the most relevant or high impact processes where you hope to achieve amazing results? You are planning an important project. Do you just go ahead in the usual way? Perhaps you need to rethink what you’ve been doing. Is it still relevant? Does it give you maximum impact? Is it the most cost-effective way? Have you maximised the benefits for all involved? Will it make money?
By sitting down perhaps in a quiet place such as a coffee shop before you start dashing out your list of activities for your project, you could brainstorm, mindmap or perform a clustering exercise for 10 minutes. Right there, before you begin your project you can engage in a creative process. If you’re not familiar with using creativity tools like freewriting, you may not benefit from your first few attempts. Try it a few times and you could be amazed at the ideas you produce.
Why go to this trouble? With stiff competition for better, smarter and more cost-effective ways of doing things that stand out, you need to raise your game.
You can inject creativity into just about anything you do if you want superior results. Use creativity tools and techniques before you start anything important – a proposal, a sales letter, a business strategy.
Find out what works best for you. By placing creative processes at the forefront of your routine and new projects, you stand a much better chance of producing outstanding, profitable results.
1. Evaluate your projects. Make a list. Prioritise your top three projects.
2. Take your most important project and freewrite for 10 minutes on ideas to create more value. Or, if you don’t have time to look up what freewriting is all about, just list 21 ideas fast.
3. Select your best idea and include it in your project to generate greater value.
You want to increase the impact of your work but it’s almost impossible most of the time to raise your game. You believe you should be more creative in your work but can’t find the time to sit down and think. You must start a new project but you don’t want to outline your thoughts at your desk because it just doesn’t feel creative. You try to find the time to get started but you just can’t.
What’s going on here? What’s preventing you from being more creative in your work? Do you need to be more disciplined? Is it because you haven’t established a routine and you are all over the place? Could it be a psychological block? Is it really about not having time?
It’s got harder to find the time to be creative because of the growing number of distractions in the workplace. Some studies say we get interrupted at work every eight minutes. Distractions make it much harder to focus and concentrate on important work, the work you get recognised and rewarded for and which gives you the greatest satisfaction. It’s a lot easier to turn to lighter tasks and amusements. No matter how much you convince yourself that social media will be significant in the future, your important work remains the core of your value to yourself and the marketplace.
So where do we look? Time management. This could be the panacea we’ve been looking for. But wait. We remember all those times we tried time management programmes and what happened? We found that it’s almost impossible to control our time despite keeping detailed time-planners when so many other things demand our attention – e-mails, follow-up work on projects, proposals, projects, people calling us on our landlines and then on our cell phones when our landlines are engaged, sms’s, BlackBerry messages and even tweets to get our attention. Do we really control our time or do interruptions control us?
We know we are smart – we can get a grip on this time thing and take charge of our lives. Our next search takes us into the whole personal qualities trap. We are out of control because we need more self-discipline. We’ll work ourselves out of our trap with better personal qualities. Soon we begin to realise that self-discipline is not enough. The onslaught of distractions, the demands, the deadlines, keep coming. We begin to feel overwhelmed. There must be a better way, we say to ourselves.
If you doubt the need for creativity just consider the challenges of modern living and working. Creative thinking is required more than ever in the past. Economic decline and stagnation means the need for better products and services, more cost-effective marketing with better results. Natural resources under threat requires new thinking for cars, homes, architectural design, consumer appliances and industrial processes. Sustainable products need to be made with less and be functionally superior. Design becomes far more important in a marketplace with many similar products vying for attention. Media and entertainment requires innovation to new forms of pleasurable distraction such as computer games, social media, downloading music, podcasts and videos.
In the next blog post, part of a series on “The secret to finding time to create”, we will further explore what prevents us from making the creative process part of our personal and work lives.
Below are some questions that may help you to understand better your existing beliefs, processes and habits. Think through the questions that intrigue you and write down the answer to the question that most affects your life right now:
- What associations do you have with being creative? Does the word “creative” disturb you?
- What does being creative mean to you – wild thoughts and ideas or coming up with something fresh and amazing that can be put to use?
- How important is it to you to be more creative in your personal and business life?
- Where and when do you come up with your best ideas?
- Where could you benefit most from being creative in your personal and professional life?
- How well do you control distractions?
- What controls your time?
Creative Distractions (lisarivero.com)
The Prisoner’s Dilemma: The Key to Creativity (blogs.forbes.com)
How to Lose Yourself in Your Writing (lisarivero.com)
Successful time management. (xemion.com)
4 Creative ways to Start Your Day (leadershipfreak.wordpress.com)
How To Enhance Creativity Part 2: Unlocking The Secrets Of The Unconscious (entrepreneurs-journey.com)