Have you ever found yourself in a mid-day rut? A time when you’ve been sitting at your desk for goodness knows how long, reading the same email over and over, with your brain feeling more like mush than any sort of valuable idea-generating machine?
In times like these, we all need a little creative inspiration. In fact, most of us need inspired most of the time according to a 2012 study, which found out that even though 8 out of every 10 people felt that creativity was crucial to economic success, only 1 in every 4 of us actually felt like we were achieving our creative potential.
So, what can we do to rectify those numbers? It turns out that it all comes down to a few changes to our daily habits.
A new study by My Own Stationery has found that most people feel most creative when outdoors, alone and relaxing. Of course, this quite clearly contradicts the typical response of powering through our work even if it means staying late at the office, and so with this in mind, we have compiled a list of quick tips you can use to revitalise your working day with a flair of creativity.
Take a Break
If you’re in an office all day, the same backdrop can start to become a drain, so why not split it up with some different scenery? Whether that’s by going to fill a water bottle, or by taking a walk at lunch time (remember, being outdoors inspires creativity!) you can be sure that taking little breaks throughout the day will help you to bring your A-Game.
There are other ways to take a break during the day – scheduling in time to think can have incredible rewards! Taking regular breaks, including some time for lunch, can help your brain function, and encourage your creativity.
Space out your day
Have you ever found yourself in a day of back-to-back meetings? A day where you hop from room to room, topic to topic and group to group? If you have, it’ll be no surprise to you that research shows that days like this are actually harmful to your creativity!
Of the respondents of the survey by My Own Stationery, 64% felt more inspired by when alone than with others. By placing meetings back to back, we put ourselves in positions without time to think, without space to relax. Instead, try to leave time in between to recuperate before the next session – take some alone time to prepare for your next meeting, for your next task, and you’ll be sure to feel more creative, more inspired, and all in all readier for the challenges ahead!
It might seem counter-intuitive, but research has shown that taking time away from work actually makes your time in the office more productive. 59% of respondents to My Own Stationery’s survey felt that they were more creative when relaxing.
More scientifically, neurologist Marcus Raichle explained to Forbes how taking time to relax without a specific task allows the brain to relax, and in doing so it will become more organised and better prepared for later challenges. After all, we would hardly run our legs to cramping and then expect to be able to run another three miles through sheer willpower alone.
Ways of disengaging include taking deep, slow breaths (even inhaling for four seconds and exhaling for six), stretching, giving yourself a quick hand massage or just stepping out of the office. However you do it, just find some time for you.
As well as that, it’s especially important to disengage when we have actually left the office. Answering emails during work is stressful enough, never mind during the time which is supposed to be your own, so make sure to turn off your phone notifications and refrain from checking them until the next morning.
Practice a hobby
It has been proven that those who practice hobbies outside of work are more engaged when in the workplace, and more creative, too, so you might reconsider what you do after 5pm, so that you are more ready at 9am.
Professor Cropley explains that, “A good hobby not only distracts, it also controls and demands our attention without too much mental energy. Make time for something you have a natural interest in; dancing, running, gardening or reading, it doesn’t matter.”
If we look at some of the most creative, productive leaders in business, too, we see how hobbies are an important aspect of their lives. For example, Warren Buffet plays the Ukulele, and Richard Branson has taken up the more extreme sports of kite surfing and mountain climbing. Their relaxation doesn’t distract from their work – it fuels it!
You needn’t take up anything too extreme if that’s not you. Making more time to draw or paint, or joining a new sports club, or teaching yourself to cook a new recipe can all be just as effective.
Get a good night’s sleep
One of the best ways to switch off from the stress of the office is to get a good night’s sleep, which is about 7 to 9 hours, for most adults. Research shows that without a good night sleep, you’ll be less productive, less present, and more forgetful. More, sleeping well helps to engage parts of your brain which have previously been clouded with stress, helping you to return to the office each morning with a clear mind to tackle your day! So why accept anything less than a good night’s sleep?
If you’re like the many millions of people who struggle to get a good night’s sleep, you might be interested to know that many studies have shown that, actually, relaxing and getting outside are both incredibly good for your quality of sleep! As well as that, you can try going to sleep and getting up at the same time every day, and sleeping with a window slightly open, both of which have been noted for their positive impact on sleep quality.
Even though it can be difficult, there are incredible benefits to getting outside, taking time alone and relaxing – you’ll be more productive, more positive and, overall, more creative. Start by taking some of the small steps that we’ve outlined, and you’ll soon be well on your way to a more creative life.
If you already do all of these, then we’d love to hear how you are able to encourage your own creative juices to flow – do you keep a journal, or have you apps that help you out of a creative rut? We’d love to hear!