Are you struggling with a team that’s stuck in a creative rut? Here are 7 inventive ways to turn the tide and produce more creativity at work.
According to Gallup, only around 30% of the American workforce is provided with regular time to think creatively. However, as employees are given space for creative thinking, it can be challenging to stay inspired.
Do you want to inspire your team? Today’s article will explore what a creative rut is and how you can help your employees get past one.
What is a creative rut?
A creative rut is an internal dilemma that stops you from producing creative content quickly or consistently. Creative ruts usually come up when employees start to feel signs of burnout. As such, it can be challenging to get inspired when you feel disengaged at work.
On the upside, creative ruts typically go away quickly with the proper training from managers.
Issues that can arise from your team stuck creatively
When your team is struggling with a creative rut, it can put a damper on creative thinking. It may be challenging to get projects done consistently or in a timely manner, which can halt company goals. Creativity isn’t easy to manage; it often comes and goes when it pleases. When employees learn how to be creative, they may find that feeling inspired is the only way to work.
How to help your team get out of a creative rut
Getting out of a creative rut takes patience and energy. It’s important to teach coping mechanisms to get back in touch with creativity. At the same time, you should be mentoring employees on how to cope when creativity doesn’t come. Here are 7 strategies that will help your team get out of a rut.
It’s important to teach coping mechanisms to get back in touch with creativity. At the same time, you should be mentoring employees on how to cope when creativity doesn’t come.
1. Encourage your employees to consume other content
Conscious content consumption often pulls people out of their ruts. It can be easy to fall down a rabbit hole on social media, but consuming content for inspiration can stop this cycle. Instead of letting employees spend hours online, ask them to observe and report on someone else’s take on something they are making. For example, if a marketer is stuck creating a blog post, ask them to:
- Read 5 different blog posts
- Report on what makes them unique
- Think about how they can apply what they learned
2. Assign a different project
Sometimes employees get in a rut because they can’t get a specific part of a project to make sense. Assign that employee a small task that takes less than a day. Sometimes a creative rut comes from being too involved in a project. Time away from the project often helps to reset the brain.
3. Host a brainstorming or problem-solving session
Have you ever dealt with a problem that a friend or colleague solved for you in 5 seconds? Being too close to a project can also be solved by letting others see where you are getting stuck. Many engineering departments utilize collaborative engineering to solve problems and work together. Most departments can benefit from working together and moving issues along as a team. If you find value in these meetings, you can host them weekly to mentor your team.
4. Get team members to switch up their location
Many employees have been working from home recently, which has made it more challenging to switch up work locations. Working in a new space can inspire you and change your perspective on your job tasks. Encourage team members to work outside, go to a local coffee shop, or spend a day at a coworking space.
5. Give employees time off
If you are dealing with a staff member with burnout and a creative rut, it may be time to encourage them to take time off. Such breaks can allow an employee to unplug from work, recharge, and come back happier. Ask your employee to take time off, even if they simply have a staycation at home. Taking a week or more off at one time gives employees a chance to enjoy being away from work.
6. Work on building a task backlog or adding buffer space
Creative ruts at work are natural. We can’t be productive 100% of the time. What’s unnatural is having a work experience that doesn’t allow for the occasional creative rut.
There are two activities your organization can do to make the most of creative thinking when it happens: Build a task backlog or add buffer space to projects.
You can call on a task backlog when your team doesn’t feel like being creative. For example, content writers may have several pieces of content they can post. A backlog allows your team to have one bad week (or several) before it impacts work.
Buffer space gives employees a chance to breathe if a project doesn’t go their way. For example, if you estimate that a project should take 8 weeks, it’s essential to add a few weeks as a buffer. With some cushion, if one aspect of the project takes longer than estimated, you don’t have to compromise other tasks.
7. Focus on teaching ways to work without creativity
Creativity isn’t reliable. You can sometimes go for weeks or months without a creative spark. The best managers mentor their staff members and teach them about the power of simply starting something new. Often putting 5 minutes on a timer and starting a task will create momentum, and momentum is much more reliable and easy to build than creativity is.
The next time your team member talks about a creative rut, ask if they have started the task yet. Sometimes an assignment can seem larger than it is once you start it.
Build a culture that encourages and supports creative thinking
Creativity is a difficult thing for employees to manage all by themselves. Companies that understand how their employees’ work can provide helpful strategies to manage inspiration. Employees who work and think creatively need support and mentoring to ensure they don’t get burned out or fall behind on projects. If you have creative employees on your team, ask what you can do to support their efforts. Your helpful management will not go unnoticed.