“Workaholics aren’t heroes. They don’t save the day, they use it up The real hero is already home … Because they figured out a faster way to get things done.”
~ Jason Friend & David Heinemeier Hansson
Welcome to Episode 66:Get Your Creativity Working Smarter, Not Harder!
Creativity is innovation’s spark. It starts with a problem needing a solution, or an idea that may solve a problem we didn’t even was had. Creativity is the process of putting your imagination to work. And unfortunately, even if your imagination is working hard, it might not be working as smart as it could be. You’re not trying to be more creative; you’re trying to unlock your natural potential, establishing a creative frame of mind, nourishing your ability to ask questions, and using simple techniques to help train your mind to use both sides of your brain to think outside traditional parameters, and be smarter about your working habits. And today, I’d like to help with that … So, here's what we will be untangling in this episode ...
Are you ready?
Pop in your awesome earbuds and let's dive in!
Creativity is innovation’s spark. It starts with a problem needing a solution, or an idea that may solve a problem we didn’t even was had. Creativity is the process of putting your imagination to work. And unfortunately, even if your imagination is working hard, it might not be working as smart as it could be. And today, I’d like to help with that …
As all us creatives already know, inspiration doesn’t always come easy every single day. Every creative individual I know -- whether writer, design, or content creator -- at one point or another gets what we like to call a “creative block”. It’s a sticky situation especially when you’re working at some hard deadlines and the creativity just isn’t flowing as you want or need it to. You are already creative, but now you must accept the challenges and keep yourself from paralysis when tested.
You’re not trying to be more creative; you’re trying to unlock your natural potential, establishing a creative frame of mind, nourishing your ability to ask questions, and using simple techniques to help train your mind to use both sides of your brain to think outside traditional parameters, and be smarter about your working habits. So, figuring out HOW to get past this so you can work smarter, not harder is (again) why we’re here today.
To be brutally honest, there is no band-aid solution or quick answer to finding this groove. Knowing the answer to this is something that comes with time and experience. But we do have some suggestions that may help!
For starters, before you begin any creative process, make sure you KNOW THE PURPOSE.
Have you considered …?
These mains considerations will streamline your creative process by setting a framework to whatever it is you are creating while eliminating any possibilities that can make said project less daunting, all the while without placing restrictions on your creative process. Hence … smarter over harder!
Once you have the purposeful details in place things should come to you a bit easier.
But if for some reason, you’re just having “one of those days” and your creative juices still aren’t flowing as you need them to, there are a few tricks and places I’m more than happy to share with you that have helped me on my dreaded “creative block” days.
Let’s dive in by starting with CREATIVE INSPIRATION …
When I run into trouble finding the inspiration, I need to get a new design project off the ground I usually start with a deep breath and take a look at how other designers have dealt with this similarity in the past. A need to generate some new ideas can be easily sparked by crawling through other creative works (physically or visually online).
My office/art studio is also packed with a mini library of design books, art books, design industry magazines, marketing sample packages, Pantone swatch books and even colour swatches from the local hardware store. Design books and magazines tend to fill their pages with up-to-date design ideas as well as their favourites from past issues, all in which can fuel some amazing levels of inspiration. And the marketing sample packages that I tend to squirrel away are usually because they appeal to me in some way; either because I admired the finish of the stock they produced their product on or because they contain an innovative or visually appealing piece of work. All these items can be drawn on as sources of design inspiration. And, since trends seems to rollover eventually -- perfect example, scrunchies are back in fashion -- they are timeless.
Another good source of inspiration would be to troll social media. Especially Instagram and Pinterest since they heavily revolve around imagery. Yup, that’s right, I am encouraging you to stop what you are doing right now and head on over to the dark side for work-related purposes. Just don’t get sidetracked. LOL!
I have honestly found some of my best inspiration from these platforms as they are packed with stunning artwork, photography and designs and are easy-as-pie to search through and navigate. For those of you who haven’t already … set up your own Pinterest account to save ideas by creating an “inspiration” board to refer to on those brain stumbling days! Or in Insta -- as you’re aimlessly scrolling created yourself some custom labelled “saved” folders.
What I’d like to suggest most of all is to create your own “catalogue” of inspiration – no matter whether it’s a board on Pinterest, some folders in Insta, or some electronic or hard copies of other things you find along your life and business adventures. This is truly one of the best things you can do for yourself …
Starting a collection of things you have read, seen, or listened to that you find utterly interested or inspiring. Bookmarking your favourite websites to refer back to; pinning images to a special Pinterest board; following other creatives on Instagram, Behance and even LinkedIn. Or even go to the lengths of tearing out pages from a magazine and picking up colour swatches from the hardware store every time you go out or a new season blesses us with its grace.
Creating this personal collection for yourself will provide you with a never-ending reference source for future projects and those dang dreaded “block” days.
Now, most people don’t think creativity involves much project management, and I hate to say it but that thought is the polar opposite … It isn't the sexiest side of design, but SOLID PROJECT MANAGEMENT FACILITATES CREATIVITY. After all, the faster you clear the essential business side of things, the more time you have for the creative. Which for some of us is one in the same.
Better time management is part of it, and that -- yet again -- is how we get from harder to smarter, so here’s some tips for working creatively, more efficiently ...
Another helpful tip … TALK THINGS OUT WITH OTHER CREATIVES and like-minded individuals. Make creativity part of your everyday routine and not just for “work” purposes. Maybe even set yourself a regular “creative” date, either by yourself or with a friend.
Creativity doesn’t always come naturally, especially when we need it the most -- but planning ahead by collecting your own inspiration, experimenting with other mediums and sources, and treating yourself right adds a fresh new face to a whole new level of creativity!
Something else that is highly important to help this harder vs smart process -- and our last creative “untangling” tip of the day -- is through VISUAL and LINGUISTIC EXERCISES.
As a creative, a large part of your right brain’s creative function is the processing of visual images. What you see and hear has a massive effect on your scope of imagination.
You see things and know when you like or dislike something, but unless you question yourself further, you will not be able to say why you like or dislike it, or even how it differs from something else. This not only makes it hard to choose whether you like something or not, but it makes improving something you don’t like utterly impossible.
Sooo … visual exercises are a simple way to train your mind to reach a deeper consciousness so you can ask yourself questions about your decision-making process. This will then allow you to visualize different circumstances so you can create a better creative world for yourself and those you may be creating for.
One of the biggest hurdles in your mission to becoming more creative is being unable to find the words required to describe the scenario or emotion you’re trying to evoke – even in design. So, once again, by doing some exercises – this time linguistic ones, you can expand your vocabulary, more effectively communicate your written message, and trigger a desired response and reaction from your audience.
Do you have any inspiring sources or tips you would like to share with the world?
Share them with us in the comments as we’d all love to hear about your creative tips and resources for working smarter, not harder.