As the business world gets hip to the value of creativity, more and more companies are looking for ways to foster out-of-the-box and disruptive thinking to drive productivity and profits. Yet for busy mompreneurs, finding time for creative pursuits can feel like yet another task on a never-ending To-Do List. Here are few strategies for letting your imagination take the lead throughout the day.
Like many things in life, if you don’t value creativity you’re not going to prioritize it. A 2010 study from IBM, however, surveyed over 1,500 business execs from around the world and found that the majority of C-level leaders believe that creativity is the key to handling the evolving complexities and dynamics of the global marketplace. Now, almost a decade later, colleges and universities are taking heed, offering advanced degrees in innovation while creative consultants and coaches are popping up everywhere.
Don’t confuse being creative with being artistic.
So, the very first step to integrating creativity into your day is acknowledging the positive role it can play in expanding and invigorating your professional and personal life. Modeling creative thinking and embracing innovation at home and in the workplace will not only empower your employees, but it will also engender these traits in the next generation of business leaders: your children.
So, you’re not an accomplished cellist or proficient oil painter? That’s okay. More comfortable with numbers than words? No problem. Don’t confuse being creative with being artistic. Though the two concepts are certainly related, creativity has a lot more to do with seeing information, problems, and relationships in new ways than it does with aesthetics. A 2017 article from PsychologyToday.com explores five different levels of creativity and suggests that with practice, everyone can expand their creative thinking abilities across all facets of life.
If you already have a hobby or an artistic or creative outlet, make time for these activities on a regular basis and then pause to reflect on how your thinking about and perceptions of problems and issues change when you’re using different parts of your brain. Metacognition, the practice of thinking about how you think, is a valuable tool for identifying biases or ruts we fall prey to when we’re focused on completing tasks or simply checking boxes.
If you don’t already have a creative outlet or you’re hard-pressed to try to fit another thing into your life, look for chances to engage with current people and activities in new and meaningful ways. Serving on the PTA or charitable boards, working with scouting groups or volunteering for your child’s dance troupe all present the opportunity to engage with people and ideas in fresh ways that can reshape your framework for thinking and inspire new problem-solving strategies.
When you see systems that work well at your child’s school or hear about an innovative new policy adopted at your friend’s company, consider how the underlying principles could be applied to your own workplace. If you’re serving on a committee with another parent from a different background or field, pay attention to how they approach problems and ask questions about the processes they use to come up with solutions. Even if you don’t agree with the solution, there’s value in learning to consider issues from more than one vantage point.
While routines can maximize efficiency and help maintain sanity when you’re balancing the chaos of work and family, they’re also the mortal enemy of creativity. You don’t have to upend the balance you’ve worked so hard to create, however. Instead, look for simple ways to step out of your comfort zone, even if it means doing something as seemingly insignificant as deciding to listen to a different type of podcast on your morning commute or trading your evening television shows for a novel or a memoir you might not normally choose to read.
Even taking a walk, going to a different café during your lunch break or choosing a different seat at the conference table can provide small points of access to new ideas and perspectives.
If all else fails, copy a move out of your guidance counselor’s playbook and hang a poster over your desk reminding yourself and others of this timeless truth: new problems can’t be solved with old ways of thinking.