In periods where it is all hands on deck to get work delivered, most of us just keep the head down and do what we need to do. From a productivity and effectiveness perspective most of us can’t sustain peak performance 24/7 and 365 days a week, ask any athlete. Work in most regions tends to experience ebbs and flows based on holidays, celebrations or other reasons.
In the down time, we have an ideal opportunity to flex our creative muscle, improve some of our skills or set a new challenge. Both our body and mind benefits from doing this. I often find the most creative solutions in my down time. Great ideas pop-up during a walk or after a game of sports. Holidays, new locations and maybe new ways of doing things give you a perspective you didn’t have before.
Even when we are busy and working hard, it is good to take mini-breaks. CEO’s the world over have played casual games like solitaire, candy crush, angry birds or even mini-golf to do some thinking about challenges they are facing. It allows them to zone out of the problem and let the subconscious deal with the issue at hand. Often a short break like that can break the state we got ourselves into and lift your spirit back into performing mode.
One of the things I noticed recently, that I was starting to miss some playful creativity. I was playing the same games, doing my regular walks and jogs and yet felt I wasn’t flexing my creative muscle as much as I want to. So I toyed with the idea of setting myself the challenge of fixing my creative muscle once a day on low intensity weeks and once a week on the higher intensity weeks. The creativity of choice can be entering an idea competition, designing a mini-game, coming up with an app idea, finding a new use for an existing tool, playing new games, doing new things, etc. I started doing it a few weeks ago, and I have to say I am truly enjoying it and it is helping me in business to come up with more creative solutions for gamification designs, for strategies, for products etc. even things I already had in the pipeline, but couldn’t really get excited about because something creative was missing.
Although it is a challenge purely for myself, I wonder how much you could benefit from it too. Especially if your work in a profession where problem solving is part and parcel of the day job….
Maybe some of you already have similar ways to keep your thinking and creative mind fresh. I would love to know, what it is you do in the comment section and then maybe I can try it too. Either way, I see the benefits in a few short weeks and use the good gamified daily/weekly streak in my diary to keep track. The biggest driver for me is that is helping me find more creativity in general.
My creative muscle challenge was inspired by James Altucher, whose podcast I listen to on a regular basis and whose books re-invent yourself, encourages you to write down 10 innovations every day. I tried this for quite a few days after reading the book and found myself looping around the same bunch of ideas, so I tweaked the challenge to suit my motivation. I like being creative and all of a sudden the ideas now keep coming. Not all are good or actionable, but that is part of the fun.
So, what do you do to stretch those creative muscles?