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Looking at maximising your creativity at work?

Getting the mind primed for creativity can be a rather tricky affair. But the key to feeding your creative output is quite simple: downtime. It’s in these wonderful voids where you can let your mind soar. When you give your subconscious that chance to get dirty, it can make a problem that’s been nagging at you soon feel like it’s solving itself.

Finding your flow

Unless you happen to be microdosing (which we strongly advise against under all circumstances!) — you’re unlikely to get more than four hours of deep creative work done a day. This kind of cognitively pumping activity really stretches your brain, and after about an hour or so, a mental fuzz tells you it’s time to stop. You are definitely not working toward maximising your creativity. The rest of the day demands a fraction of the focus and is really just filler, often known as email. Forcing yourself to sit in front of a screen for hours on end is not just bad for your brain, it kills creativity.

So while setting the right conditions to be your most creative can take on many forms, here are three ideas to consider:

 

Time

We’ve become so enamoured with productivity that we’ve forgotten how to slow down. We’ve made busyness a bragging right and ‘“I haven’t got the time” our collective mantra. Those poor souls with excess time on their hands — well they must simply not have enough to do! But the goal of finding a more creative way of getting creative projects out the door — is achieved through managing your energy.

 

Instead of looking at how we spend our time, we should understand how we’re funnelling our working spirit. Startup entrepreneurs, coding marathoners, workaholics, struggle pornographers, and many may balk at this. Their “always-on” badges are worn with pride. But science backs (and intuitively we know) that more sleeping, walking, loafing, bathing, moving, meandering, and generally mucking about — really does fuel creativity.

 

So structuring time to pause throughout the day not only provides a new light for which to see yourself and your creativity, it brings clarity on how to best expend your energy to make those great ideas happen.

 

Technology

Start with banning technology from the bedroom. Then move to ‘doing emails’ in distinct sessions (ideally one in the morning and another in the afternoon with neither session exceeding 45 minutes). We often forget that digital communications occur in asynchronous time.  Yes they’re stacking up as you read this very sentence but they do not demand an immediate response. You can get to them when choose, when you’re ready. The challenge then it would seem, is to resist the temptation to reach for your device. That’s why some of the most present, creative, and happiest people I know disabled notifications on their smartphones years ago.

 

Putting your creative ideas into the world is what matters most and anything that doesn’t service this aim — dump. Trash that any-benefit mindset you might be holding on to and find those work rhythms that nourish you in all the right ways. Experiment with and refine this regimen such that technology serves you, not the other way around.

 

Tweaking

The bad news is that there isn’t a magic limitless pill tailored just for you. The good news is this (and it doesn’t require any mind altering substances to take advantage of): there is proven science that helps us understand the process of, and art if you will, of creativity.

 

When you’re in downtime, at wakeful rest, you activate the Default Mode Network in your brain. Instead of tweaking out we need to be tweaking our schedules such that we optimise for this downtime. When we do, we silence our inner critics, boost awareness, build confidence, and make space for creative thinking. It’s a no brainer really.

To be your most creative, you have to stay aware of your energy levels and carve out that precious downtime to let your minds wander. You must use technology as a tool and not let it become a distraction. But most of all, you should keep experimenting – because your creativity literally depends on it.

By Jonas Altman

What to find out more? Attend RED’s Creativity at Work event, also ran by Jonas, in London on 25th February, register here.

RED Academy also have career moulding industry training courses in UX Design, UI Design, Digital Marketing, and Web & App Development, so to make the big switch towards working in any of these creative industries get in touch!

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