Staying creative while working from home
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Today, creativity in jobs is not a plus but a must. Although working from home (aka ‘WFH’) has plenty of benefits, it can also be a buzzkill when it comes to creativity, especially when you’re juggling a day job with a personal life in one place. Your creative hobbies become blurred with job-related commitment, and projects get pushed aside because it’s all just too much. Instead, it’s tempting to stay in bed and refresh your social media feed. Or take a longer-than-you’re-supposed-to break binge-watching your favourite show. Unfortunately, it’s a sure-fire way to kill your creative vibes.
So, for all of you out there who sometimes (or often) struggle to get that much-desired, highly inspired mindset, here are a few golden tips to boost your creativity while working from home!
Stretch, flex and exercise
Research consistently shows that starting the day bright and happy with exercise, stretching or meditation improves your creativity for the rest of the day. In short: Mental and physical fitness is inspiring! Aside from releasing dopamine and reducing that nasty stress hormone cortisol, it’s also a great way to clear the mind and let in creative thoughts.
I know it can be hard to find time and space — sometimes literally(!) for Aussies living in small apartments — to exercise, but small movements go a long way. I enjoy my mornings doing my yoga poses quietly and routinely while sipping ginger and orange tea. I’m sure I do not surprise anyone here that people who exercise regularly also tend to be better at creative thinking. “Exercising acts as a cognitive enhancer that promotes creativity in healthy ways”, says researcher Lorenza S. Colzato. Whether running, meditation, rope skipping or toe wiggling, a little exercise prompts creativity.
Creativity requires muscle
Creativity is, just like any skill, a ‘muscle’ you can train — you need to set yourself up for it to be successful at it. Of course, the downside is that what we might’ve done pre–pandemic to get our creative juices flowing are now more difficult. But, not to worry! As I said, it’s trainable.
When you’re down in funk for a few days, the best thing to do is start ‘ritualising’ your creative moments. Set aside a specific time slot each day — say, 2 hours at 11 in the morning — to be creative. Start by treating yourself to your favourite matcha latte. And with every time you drink your hot drink and bend over your laptop to get down to business, you’ll find it’ll be easier each day. That’s because you’re training your brain to shift to creative matters rather than thinking of other things, like your latest Instagram post.
Take regular breaks
One of my fail-proof techniques is the Pomodoro technique. It works like this: Grab your egg timer from the cutlery drawer and set it to 25 minutes. Then, start working away on your tasks. After the timer goes off, you take a 5-minute break (no sneaky working!) and then wind up the old clock again for 25 minutes. So, after four pomodoros (25-minute intervals), you’re entitled to a luxurious 20-minute break to do whatever the world throws at you!
“A break every 25 minutes lets you see things from a different perspective and enables you to come up with different solutions; you often find mistakes to correct, and your creative processes are stimulated”, says Francesco Cirillo, the creator of the Pomodoro technique.
Obviously, you can adjust the time to suit your style better. I prefer 40-minute lapses with 10-minute breaks in-between (because once I’m on a roll, I’m on a roll!). The aim is to work with the time you have, to optimise it, rather than work against it. And to be honest, doesn’t anyone perform better under pressure?
Take it idly
When you’re fighting against a relentless brain that keeps whirring or going around in endless unproductive circles, the best you can do is to stop and … jump in the shower! Turns out, 72% of us get the best ideas in the shower. According to cognitive psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman PhD., “the sensation of the water’s spray combined with the tranquillity of the showering ritual may help free the brain and stimulate fresh thinking”.
That doesn’t mean that you should take a shower every time you’re feeling creatively blocked — it’s about pressing the quiet button in your brain for a second and letting your mind wander. I’d like to pace around the house like a madman but daydreaming or doodling funny animals is perfectly fine too. Sometimes it’s best just to take things quietly.
Use your strengths
Nothing inspires the brain more than doing something you enjoy. And to be fair, every job has its pros and cons. But, when you know your strengths, you can explore what drains your creativity and what you can do to reinspire yourself. “We found that it helps people to think they are working with their strengths rather than something they see as a weakness,” scientist Samuel Murphy says. So, when you’re stuck in a low, creative mood, go back to work on a task you know you’re good at. Everybody needs a regular win to boost their confidence!
Knowing your individual ‘peak’ and ‘off-peak’ hours is also a plus. Doing difficult tasks when your body naturally has more energy helps. For the early birds among us (count me in), start as soon as your body wakes up — night owls: ease into the day and plan your day in the same style.
Let’s not forget the social animal in us! The pandemic might’ve restricted us, but it cannot stop us from (online) meeting with our beloved friends. Especially with working from home, we’re missing our workmates to hang out near the coffee machine. So instead, grab a drink at the shop around the corner or arrange a cheeky Zoom call. Your boss might disapprove, but I won’t tell…
You can also bond with your workmates by conquering issues at work. When you come across such a blockade, pull your team together and solve the problem!
Working from home doesn’t mean you need to exhaust your creative outbursts — instead, embrace your moments of procrastination! Choose the best time to do tasks, listen to your body and mind, exercise a little and, most importantly, take time to recharge. One upside (of many, if I may say so) is that it increases your overall happiness when you’re busy being creative. “Engaging in creative behaviour leads to increases in wellbeing the next day, and this increased wellbeing is likely to facilitate creativity on the same day,” says Dr Conner from the University of Otago. That means that you can spark your creative engine by just enjoying your day-to-day hobbies, going for inspiring showers and walks while also improving your overall happiness!
Another plus is that working within a fantastic team improves your creativity. Myrecruitmentplus is a platform for HR and managers to work together on in-house recruitment so that they can find the best creative job for you!
Have a look at the recruitment software, which offers a position profile template and risk and compliance position description.