How To Guide: How to Stay Creative in Business

As always, I have a list of How To Guide topics I’d like to cover but something came up and I’ve decided to talk about that this week!

Creativity.

For many years, I didn’t know I had any and certainly didn’t know I needed any for my business. Because I can’t draw a stick man, I had never made the link between me and creativity.

However, I have had two conversations this week with a business coach and a client that really reminded me of not only the importance of creativity in ALL businesses but also just how crucial it is for this moment in time/history.

We are all emerging from this pandemic with tales to tell and seismic shifts in our businesses and/or lives that we negotiating with and making choices about as we look to the future.

Making time and space to let creativity in will be THE difference to how to manage the change in the coming weeks and months so I wanted to share some ways to make this happen. I know from bitter experience that assuming you’ll ‘find a bit of time’ at some point for creativity is a mistake and before you know it you’re 12 months on you didn’t stop to let the creativity in.

What do I mean by creativity anyway?

As a business owner, it’s the connective tissue that makes all the other parts of your business work better. It could be artistic creativity if that’s what’s needed but it’s more likely to be ideas, penny drop moments, lateral thinking, collaboration ideas, alternative solutions, content inspiration, networking opportunities, time to build confidence etc etc.

Here are some ways to help you stay creative always in your business so that you prioritise creativity as you prioritise your accounts.

  1. Book the time in! I have used various ways to make time for creativity, some more successful than others. But marking time in the diary does help me (mostly) be reminded that it is legitimate and a good way to spend my precious time. Colour code space each week to get creative.
  2. Choose a task. This can help those of you who really aren’t much good at just sitting to let stuff in. This is the beginners guide. Book your time in to work through some creative process like content planning, marketing strategy or perhaps some blog posts. This is a great way to get started on tasks that aren’t part of your everyday operations. Choose the things you ‘keep putting off’ so that you get into a new habit of doing ‘soft’, creative tasks regularly.
  3. Go task free. Once you’re a pro at spending time creating content or writing, then progress to booking out time for NOTHING. Ooh that’s hard and you may only manage it once a month. In my diary it’s called a ‘Silence Day’ when I simply don’t have any other tasks to do. Use this day or half day to turn off your devices and just be. You might go walking or take yourself to a quiet place to sit. Take your favourite notebook by all means or maybe turn off your notifications but record your voice  with notes and ideas as they occur. You may have a particular challenge that you’d like to focus on or best of all, no focus at all. This gives your brain enough space to let ideas and creativity in. Believe me – it’s a game changer!
  4. Upgrade your work space. Hands up who has let their work spill all over the house or their work space stay messy or purely functional? That would be me too. However, even if your work space is the corner of the living room, it’s vital that it inspires you and makes you feel good. This might be a few quotes dotted around, a simple tidy up or clear out of clutter. Working in chaos or around old ideas or stuff is a creativity killer.
  5. Be curious and nosey. I’m super good at this one! Fill your brain with good stuff. Specifically I mean that we’re creatures of bad habits like an addiction to the news or doom scrolling on social media late at night. We might have an unhealthy relationship with soap operas or being cross with decision makers on the telly. This is negative energy that stifles creativity. If you love news (like me!) then try a news podcast to cut out the ‘argumentative’ style of live news. Perhaps if you’re a late night social scroller, swap that with an inspiring podcast instead. Filling your head with positive energy makes such a difference. Here are some of my favourite hacks:
    • I listen to Newscast on BBC Sounds. They dig into one core topic of the news that day. No arguments, grumpy interviewing or bad tempered retorts but clear, grown up and in depth discussion around the news of the day.
    • I have favourite podcasts that I dig into when I need to learn something new. Brene Brown (both Unlocking Us and her Dare to Lead podcasts) are great as is TED interviews with longer deep dives into TED talk presenters.
    • Enjoy a hobby. It’s all too easy for us to get up, work, sleep, repeat. I’m a history geek and gardener so making time for both is vital to rest my brain and fill it with what I love. Don’t underestimate the power of a hobby.