Did you know that creativity and productivity go hand in hand? Many people tie productivity to the number of hours worked and think that if you work more you will earn more, make more sales etc. This is not the case. It is essential to realize that when you are stressed out by all work and no play that you can actually be less productive!
Working smarter, not harder is the way to increase productivity and creative thinking is the key to working smarter. Now that we know how important creativity is to productivity let’s review the 9 best ways to enhance creative thinking, innovation and new ideas in your biz and in your life.
9 Ways to Improve Productivity Through Creativity
Create Working Environments That You Feel Happy Being In
Surround yourself with what inspires you. This can be art, music, plants, light, etc. The key is for you to want to be in your work space. It needs to make you feel happy and motivated to create amazing things. This type of an environment will help you do your best work and stimulate creative thinking and new ideas. It will also help to reduce stress and overwhelm.
Make Sure Your Creative Time Is Structured – Keep It Simple And Focused
Most people run on productivity cycles of 90-120 minutes and almost no one focuses well for longer than 120 minutes. Trying to work against this by taking less breaks and working more can actually mean getting less done overall.
Planning and organization can help you structure your time and work in ‘sprints’. Setup what you plan to do and have the resources you need to do it. Then when you get to work you don’t waste time thinking about what you need or what exactly to do. This keeps you focused, positive and productive.
Get Psychological Distance to Stimulate and Enhance The Creative Flow
If you have ever heard of the theory of diminishing returns, you know that there is only so much time you can work on something until you stop being productive. Only work on one problem until you feel stuck. Then step away for a time. For me I will take a walk or do something physical. This gets my blood flowing and if I am outside there is fresh air and sunshine. Getting distance from your problem can oftentimes be just what you need to get the idea you were looking for to solve it.
How many times have you worked on something for hours and hours and it wasn’t until you were somewhere completely removed from it that you had your breakthrough thought/idea/revelation about how to move forward with it? Psychological distance helps creativity, according to psychology professor Lile Jia. Our minds are more likely to think creatively about things we aren’t experiencing right here, right now, without stress.
Schedule Important Tasks For High Productivity Hours
Planning ahead allows you to assign your highest priority work for the time of day you work best (your most productive hours). The key to using this strategy successfully is planning. Knowing ahead of time when your optimal work times, and deadlines allows you the freedom to plan for plenty of time to get the tasks/projects done when it works best for you, not when it’s the last minute and you are stressed out.
There are a lot of great resources that can help you with finding your ‘best times’ based on your circadian rhythms but the best one I found was Michael Breus’s book The Power of When. It comes complete with an online quiz to help you determine your chronotype and helpful tips and tricks about optimizing your day.
Short of reading a book or taking a quiz, a quick and easy tip is to never try to do your most important work when you are in a bad mood. I guarantee that you won’t do your best work unless you are in a good mood. So relax, enjoy and plan ahead to take advantage of your full creative potential.
Know Your Why
Why are you doing what you are doing? A deep connection to this bigger picture will not only help you come up with creative solutions to problems, it will also help you find more meaning in your daily work. When work feels meaningful, we tend to care about it more and have a deeper desire for a successful outcome.
No one wants to feel like a drone, mindlessly working through a task list having no apparent meaningful impact. Make sure you know your why and what the bigger picture is for running your biz. This will keep you engaged and productive when things get tough.
Reduce Stress and Keep Your Your Neurochemical Balance Optimized
Did you know that the neurochemical balance in your brain, specifically related to serotonin and dopamine (these two help you with creative ideas) vs adrenaline and cortisol (these two stifle them), will make or break your creative potential?
Reducing stress is key! The adrenaline and cortisol caused by stress will chase away the creativity enhancing effects of serotonin. The fight or flight response in the body as a result of stress will also cause the rest of your body to focus on survival not new ideas. When we are stressed we prefer safe and familiar ideas.
A positive attitude can also help your mood and your creativity. It’s really difficult to produce good work when you are in a bad mood. Don’t worry, be happy! You might be surprised with the creative results.
Try New Things and Help Your Brain Help You
Creativity is directly tied to your brain and new ideas need new neural pathways to travel along. Doing the same thing day in and day out is not only boring, it can also stifle creative thinking. Our brains form neural pathways to adapt to new situations leading to new ideas, new thoughts, and yes, new solutions. This process gets stifled when we don’t do anything new.
On the other hand, having a completely unpredictable environment can be stressful and not having the time or tools you need to be successful can help you feel overwhelmed and tired. The key to stimulating creative thoughts and ideas starts with a supportive environment where you can relax, engaging in stimulating activities and be allowed to forge new thought patterns in the brain.
It is also helpful to take regular breaks and allow the subconscious to give you an assist. The environment we work in and how many breaks we take is a strong indication of how creative we can be.
Don’t Worry About Failing, See It As An Opportunity To Learn And Grow
In order to innovate, we have to be ok with failure. It happens. In fact, Thomas Edison had 1,000 failures with the light bulb before he made it work. He learned from each one and eventually changed the world. If we give ourselves (and others) the freedom to fail then we also give them the freedom to succeed.
Fear is a powerful block to innovation and success. It keeps us doing things the way that they have always been done rather than trying to find a better way. It takes courage to challenge an existing perspective especially if the environment you work in does not encourage failure. Encouraging failure means encouraging new ideas.
Play Regularly and Make Time to Daydream
Think of creativity as a way for your mind to play. Allow fun, laughter and daydreaming to come into your work space. Set aside time every day to doodle, play a game, go for a walk or anything else that can give you a short break. Additionally studies have shown that daydreaming relaxes your mind and allows you to think outside the box and get the creative juices flowing. Even 5 minutes downtime can help to bring about new ideas and encourage innovation.
Now that you have all these new ideas, it is time to try them out!
It’s time to get creative in order to boost your productivity. Any or all of these ideas can be applied in all areas of your life to help you use creativity to improve your productivity. Using a planner system can help you implement them into your daily life and dramatically improve the chance of having successful outcomes with your home, personal and biz life.
Just in case you don’t have a planner yet, you can download our free combo 2019-2020 planner and creative journal here.
*right click to download and print our FREE Blissful Coloring Page