Marketing, advertising and communications professionals are constantly focused on creativity—offering new ideas to clients, partners and prospects, anticipating the next viral moment or national sensation, or creating a triumphant brand moment with innovation, disruption, shock or surprise. While creativity can mean a lot of things to the industry, there’s consensus that it’s an important element for success. In my experience thus far, creativity has always been emphasized in terms of outcomes—how well a campaign was executed—but not in ideation or the development of that campaign.
Since joining Wyecomm, I have made concrete steps to foster more creativity in my work while also focusing parts of my personal development on creative skills. The small change I’ve seen in myself and others, as well as what peers have observed and imparted to me, leads me to believe that creativity may not be entirely learned or intrinsic. Rather, it is practiced and with that practice – much like anything – you can become more original in your ideas and strategic plans.
There are a lot of different ways to practice creativity, ranging from putting yourself in new situations and getting outside your comfort zone to completing small tasks once a month to break up your routine. Below are six relatively easy techniques to practice creativity that can be integrated into your daily, weekly or monthly routine:
- Take a new route: Are you a creature of habit? To know what’s next, you must see what’s new. Once a week, or even just once a month, switch up your normal daily work routine or commute by parking in a new location, sitting somewhere new on the train, walking a different route or strolling into a new coffee shop for your morning fix. Get off the beaten path and inspiration may strike.
- Read, listen or think differently: Whether you like to listen to audiobooks or podcasts, read magazines or newspapers, have a favorite email newsletter or like an old-fashioned book – switch it up to something different. It could be picking a non-fiction book in an industry that’s similar to your work project but that you’ve never explored before. It could be trying a different podcast or listening to classical music on the way to work rather than the top hits. If you don’t want to switch up your daily routine, pick one new item to read or listen to a month. It will expand your mind and you’ll find connections to current problems or plans you’re solving that will surprise you.
- Immerse yourself in new surroundings: If you tend to work in the same place every day, pick one day a month to find a new spot to work. It could be a new hotel lobby, a local coffee shop or an atrium in a library, art museum or corporate building. There are many articles on the benefits of productivity when working in new spaces, especially those that are aesthetically pleasing. Do yourself some good and sit amongst new scenery to provoke inspiration.
- Keep track of inspiration: We often don’t discipline ourselves to capture our ideas and inspiration for later. Make a point to start a journal, create a spreadsheet or keep an ‘ideas’ folder to jot down the ideas you have throughout the day. You’ll be surprised at how inventive you are when you’re not trying.
- Convene a creative advisory board: Ask a diverse group of friends, acquaintances and colleagues to participate in casual get togethers to share ideas. Meet over coffee or happy hour and discuss a range of topics. Fuel the discussion with provocative questions and invite others to do the same.
- Schedule innovation time: Make new ideas a regular, expected part of your routine by scheduling innovation time in your calendar. You could try a monthly “10 at 10” meeting in which team members brainstorm 10 new ideas about a topic or for a project at 10:00 AM.
You don’t have to be a traditional ‘creative’ in the industry to introduce unique thinking, solutions and ideas to your work. By starting small you can make creativity a part of your everyday. In this case, practice makes you creative.