A while back I asked several dozen employees a simple question:
Where do you do your most creative work?
They each took a moment and then captured their answer on a sticky note. Looking through the results revealed a common theme:
We do our most creative thinking when we are alone.
Here are some examples:
- while running
- in the shower
- during the morning drive
- late at night while everyone else is in bed
- on a plane with noise cancelling headphones
What is surprising about the results is that no one provided an answer related to their work environment. In this sample study not a single person felt they do their best creative work in a meeting, sitting at their desk, or while attending to their email.
And yet, this is the expectation companies have of us as employees, that we step through the office doors and create our best work, that we innovate, that we stay ahead of the market with our brilliant ideas.
If the results of my experiment are typical, and my hunch is that they are, then what can we do to tap into our creative brains? I challenge you to take a walk or hit the gym in the middle of the day. Drink lots of water and keep your brain hydrated and performing at your peak. Schedule blocks in your calendar as thinking time and then step away from your phone and computer to engage your brain and do your best work.
Finally, don't keep your ideas to yourself. While we generate our most creative thoughts solo, we get valuable feedback and important energy from sharing these ideas with others. Nurture your creativity by scheduling thinking time and iterate on your work by incorporating feedback from others.
I can't wait to see what you create.
[Initial draft written with a Palomino Blackwing 602]