The importance of being creative in your work should be obvious to anyone thinking about the issue. Still, if the benefits of workplace creativity themselves are not enough to motivate you to try and get more creative with your work, you should know that most workplaces have started paying attention to this aspect and are trying to stimulate employee creativity in any way they can.
Take Google, for instance. Back in 2004, Google announced that their employees were encouraged to spend 20% of their time at the office working on their own side-projects. That has generated some of Google’s most profitable services such as Google News. Even if the “20% time” feature has been somewhat cut back on, it’s definitely not dead, and even if it were, it remains one of the most copied innovations Google has brought to the workplace.
Boosting your creativity
By now, you may be asking yourself “OK, so creativity is important for some employers. So what? I’m self-employed and working from home” Well, being creative is so important to employers these days because it improves the quality of your work. So, not being creative makes your work worse, the less creative you are, the lower the quality of your work, the harder you find it to concentrate, the staler the ideas you come up with, and so on.
More so, you may think that creativity is something you’re born with rather than something you can learn. That’s a mistake. Sure, creativity has a big inborn part, but most skills and traits do. Some people have more native creativity than others, but, at the end of the day, if you work long enough at it, then you will get better at it.
Now that we’ve established how people who working from home can benefit from being more creative, let’s see what you can do to keep your creative edge sharp.
Change up your routine
Not falling prey to the problems of routine is key to not dulling your creative edge. It’s good to have a pattern to fall back on, but it’s very important to change it up once in a while. For instance, if you work from 9 to 5 each day, have yourself a lazy morning and work from 12 to 8 one day. Take a day off and work the respective number of hours that night. Keep changing your schedule like this, so no days are completely alike, thus keeping the routine of your work schedule from getting to you.
Or you could just take your work outside, for a change. Do you have a backyard? What about a front porch? Maybe a balcony? Go there, and if you don’t, I’m sure there are plenty of parks around your house where you can go to make your workday a little better, maybe you could go to a coffee shop with free Wi-Fi and just sit in there.
Do something else
If you work a lot in one sitting, that will take its toll. You will become increasingly fatigued and your work will start swimming before your eyes. That’s your brain telling you to take a break. Step away from the computer and do something else for a while. Pick up pottery, cook yourself a nice meal, start a garden or tend to the one you have, grow your own vegetables. Just step away from the computer and do something with your hands.
Working at home means you’re doing office work and are stuck in a chair all day, this is bad for you. What’s worse, you don’t even have your commute, so any movement you might have been doing when you were commuting is gone now. This will show in a few months or a few years. Staying in shape is not that hard, though, nor is unpleasant. Just set a half an hour aside each morning for a little exercise, do some light stretching, a few pushups, a few sit-ups, that sort of thing. You’ll feel better all day and your body will thank you.
Sometimes you just get stumped. You have this project to do and you have no idea how; not all projects inspire all of us. Some projects you get excited about and have a lot of ideas about are unappealing to someone else and some projects that are completely sterile from your point of view are exciting to someone else. It’s a matter of personality as well as interests. Don’t hesitate to ask another freelancer to brainstorm with you should you ever get stuck, it’ll definitely help you out in the long run.
Lack of creativity can come from being tired. If you find yourself stumped or lacking your usually very present creativity, take a look at your schedule from the last few weeks, it could be that you’re just not sleeping right. Accumulated fatigue is a huge enemy of creativity and productivity in general, maybe you should take a nap and take another look at your project afterwards. Maybe you need to reevaluate your sleep schedule entirely. Go to sleep at 9 p.m for a couple of nights and see how much better you will feel in the mornings and how much more productive and creative you are throughout the workday.
Work on personal projects
Remember that talking point about Google’s “20% time” in the beginning of the article? Turns out employers everywhere have been copying that for a reason: it works. It does make sense that you’re going to be more passionate about a personal side-project than something that has been commissioned to you but that you may not care for. Take the time to work on something else than what your clients usually ask you to. I’m sure you’ve already got a few ideas in the back of your head that you’d love to work on if only you’d have the time. The answer is simple: make the time to work on them happen. Short of not getting any more work, that time won’t happen on its own. You have to help it along a bit by getting started on whatever it is you want to be doing. Maybe you want to create a vector pack and have quite a few rolling around your head. Do that, it’ll be fun and you’ll be that much more passionate about that work and will probably manage to integrate some aspect of it into your commissioned projects.
It’s a well known fact that the human mind can’t focus all that well on a topic for a lot of time at once. If you feel your attention to your work slipping, go ahead and take a break! There’s no reason to feel guilty about it. When you do get back from your break, your mind will be refreshed and a lot better at tackling the issue than before.
Join a community
Most people working office jobs yearn for peace and quiet and wish they had a quieter workplace, and that’s to be expected: They’re working in an office with a bunch of other people and there’s bound to always be someone taking a break, or talking on the phone or doing something that you may find disruptive when trying to concentrate.
People who work from home have the exact opposite issue, especially those living on their own. Working from home can easily be alienating. You may find yourself spending a whole day without uttering a single word. Fact of the matter is there’s just nobody to talk to when you’re working from home.
Solve this issue by joining an online community, Skype with other professionals on various topics (work-related and not), Join a forum – yes, yes, we know forums are kind of outdated ever since Social Media took off, but they’re still very active for niche communities, like professional ones. Just socialize for a bit, you’ll feel better for it.
That concludes our list of tips on getting your creative juices flowing again quickly while working from home. Do you work from home and have some tips for others in the same position? Don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!
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