How to Practice Creativity When You Don’t Have Time For it
I get it. You have a million things to do. You have a serious job and cannot risk being caught daydreaming, doodling, or doing anything different from what your supervisor may think. How in the world are you to make time for creativity when you don’t have time to even clean your home? Sounds familiar?
Unfortunately, this is the reality 75% of professionals in America. Gallup found that 3 out of 10 professionals feel stuck or a lack of a creative outlet today. Despite studies consistently validating the importance of creativity in our professional and personal growth, most of us are unhappy and unsure how to add creativity in our daily routine. I know how stressful this is because I was one of these people until I started integrating mindfulness and creativity in my daily routine. I worked in public policy for 6 years in nuclear nonproliferation. I struggled to practice creativity until I changed the way I thought about it. Now with daily creativity, I am a more effective, strategic, thoughtful and happier leader even when I am super swamped with a long list of things to do.
How did I do it? The secret was to recognize that creativity is more than ideation or arts. It’s a mindset. It’s a way of living and a way of thinking. And to live a more creative lifestyle meant learning how to make intentional time, space and habits to be creative and be mindful. There are many ways to approach creativity ,but here are four suggestions to rethink creativity and build daily creative habits.
First, be consistent. You can choose the time, the activity and the location but the key is to do it daily and consistently. Most people think being creative consumes a lot of time or that it must be related art related which is not true. Taking walks, doodling, listening to music, or daydreaming with intention is powerful and effective. Within a month you’ll learn to enter the creative flow and intentional space more easily in five minutes. I suggest using calendar tools for daily reminders to allocate a time to be creative. That 15 minute recharge will help you make that next decision better.
Second, keep track of your milestones and insights. You will notice your habits and mindset shift more easily if you intentionally observe your growth It will be gradual but powerful. Notice how certain activities bring you more energy while others drain you. Set goals. Think about how certain habits were easier to build but harder to change. Write a gratitude journal. Find what approach works for you, but find a way to keep track of your progress. Being aware of your progress and challenges will help you stay more attuned to your long term creative habit building and practicing.
Third, find allies and accountability buddies to practice creativity together. It’s easier to go to the gym when you know all your friends are going. Similarly, it will be easier to practice daily creativity if you have friends and colleagues who can be accountable. Set a month challenge with a group of friends and keep track of your milestones together. Set a company wide competition to see how your employees can practice creativity in the office regularly. And if that setting is not provided, find allies that you can be inspired by and can inspire. As Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” If you don’t have people that challenge and inspire you, you need to go out and find them.
Fourth, this is a journey, not an overnight process. The key element to building a creative mindset is to be persistent and determined to grow. Your willingness to learn, adapt, and stay proactive when facing challenges is the greatest stepping stone in fostering innovative thinking. It may take months or even years for some of your habitual thinking to actualize, but don’t give up. Don’t simply criticize the situation. Think about how constraints can help you in your next steps.
Overall, you will see the greatest impact when you believe that you are creative and have the confidence to build creative insights. When you integrate more of this mindset into your professional space, it will permeate into personal space too. Creative thinking is a mental muscle that needs regular exercise to get better. We spend so much time going to the gym, but allow so little time for our minds to flow. It’s about time we change that. Be the creative mindful leader you want to be with these recommendations.
Monica Kang is a passionate community bridge builder, creative confidence educator, and curious researcher. As the Founder & CEO at InnovatorsBox, she helps professionals and organizations tap into their creative potential and build creative confidence by offering workshops, strategies, toolkits, and program development. She gained deep appreciation for nuanced differences and community building through living in 5 countries and her 6+ years of experience in government, nonprofit, and international organizations. She holds an M.A. from SAIS Johns Hopkins University in Strategic Studies and International Economics and a B.A. from Boston University. She is also an active leader in StartingBloc, Hive, Startup Weekend, and Coach Diversity Institute.