Too Stressed To Be Creative?

Innovation and creativity are crushed by common organizational practices. Urgency, stress, multitasking, back-to-back meetings, all contribute to the issue. Break the rut by creating intentional space for innovation and unlock your creativity.

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Greg: All right, Robb. So I’ve got another one for us. Looks like the creativity bug sometimes gets squashed by things. So people are having a hard time innovating. They’re having a hard time coming up with creative solutions and the same old, same old keeps happening. And, I don’t know. It feels like the grind of just doing the work sometimes can crush creativity and innovation. Have you seen this happen?

Robb: Yes. I personally experienced it myself where it can be very difficult to be creative under certain circumstances, and there’s a bunch of common ones here. So if you’re stressed it’s kind of hard to be creative. Music’s a big hobby of mine and if it’s late at night and I just had a really exhausting day, and I got a lot going on, a lot on my mind: tax problems, legal problems. I don’t know if I have anything left to give to make music or do anything that is interesting or creative. What about you?

Greg: I tell you what, I tend to be a multitasker and that is not a friend of creativity. That is great for boredom, killing boredom, but it is not great for creativity. I’ve learned that unless you have blocks of time to be able to give yourself room to be able to think, you’re not going to be able to come up with anything creative. You’ll constantly be thinking about the next thing that you have to do. So large blocks of time, dedicated time, scheduled time, planned time are definitely things that can help there, but gosh, that multitasking itch. That’s one that I like to scratch sometimes and it doesn’t help with creativity.

Robb: Yeah. That and you’ve got back to back meetings or even just doing repetitive  work. These things can soak your brain power. The back to back meetings thing, the one after another, after another, after another, and by the time you’re finished you’re just exhausted with thinking and talking and listening there’s nothing left. I can totally see why so many companies don’t get a lot done with the meeting cultures that they have. What can we do about this? What are some tips that you have that can help people get out of this rut, or get out of this place where they have no space left for innovation?

Greg: I think you have to be intentional. If you are just subject to someone else’s schedule and demands you’re going to constantly find that pinch of, ‘Well you’re not doing anything right? Ok. I need you to do this.’ And that’s actually a terrible pitfall. So learning to create space and then when you’re doing nothing, that’s intentional. That doing nothing gives you the opportunity for your brain to actually comprehend creative solutions. So creating space, actually giving intentional time to think I think is critical. So find the most innovative time. If that’s the morning when you have the least disruptions, maybe start there. Start practicing getting space when there isn’t natural interruption going to be getting you. So that’s one aspect, but I tell you what sometimes tech gets in the way. Do you find that it takes you away from focus?

Robb: Oh absolutely. If my email is on, and I keep getting dings all day, or my texts are on, or there’s so many ways you can be distracted by technology and outside communications. Sometimes just turning your phone off is a good idea. Let it go to voicemail. There’s very few calls that are that important.

Greg: I like those tips. And you know what? You’ll come back, it’s not like you’re gone from the world; you’re just hitting pause on it for a moment. I think one more tip for me, Robb, is I like to just literally go outside. Get out of the building and go experience nature for a minute. Maybe walk with a friend. It’s amazing what happens when conversation is happening and you’re literally just not staring at a computer screen, or at the work right in front of you. Once in a while that’s all that takes to unlock the potential and those ideas can come flooding in. So that and maybe grab a pint! Sometimes you need a beer, and that can help!

Robb: Yeah. I like the scheduling thing where you just block a day off. Try to schedule all your distractions for one day, but then leave other days open for keeping your mind open and being creative. But yeah, this has been good. A lot of good ideas here.

Greg: Cool. All right. Well hopefully we can unlock that potential.

Robb: Unlock it!

Greg Crown

Likes baking, craft beer, whisk(e)y & beaches.
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