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10 Surprising Ways To Fire Up Creativity

10 Surprising Ways To Fire Up Creativity

Creativity always eludes me when I need it the most. Maybe because it is because I rush to do work, and due to this hurried pace I end up doing nothing. I wrap up the day not finishing anything. My productivity goes down to zero percent.

This is why I’ve decided to cover this topic, and in this post we will explore 10 surprising ways to fire up your creativity.

1. Spend quiet time with God every day.

The time you invest doing this will definitely recharge your batteries. The creator of the universe is the most creative being. When you spend time with him, his creativity rubs off on you. Besides, when you have bonding with God, your stress, anxieties, anger, fears, doubts, and unforgiveness, all, will melt away. If you do this regularly, and you do it properly (I suggest you consult a pastor or a religious mentor so you’ll be guided accordingly), you will experience an overwhelming peace. The kind of peace Christians describe as “peace that surpasses understanding”. This tranquility brings about unbounded creativity.

2. Remind yourself that creativity is a slow process.

If you’re a creative like me, you know you need to be ingenious all the time to make a living. The truth is you need creativity to survive. Here’s the thing, when work has piled up, and you need to rush things, the problem starts, and it can escalate to an artist’s block if you’re not careful.

When this problem arises, it’s best to remind yourself about these ideas I picked up from Christine Kane’s article 21 Ways to be More Creative:

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When you want to do something creative you shouldn’t rush things. Creativity can’t be forced, but it can be cultivated and it can be allowed. It usually happens when your mind is open and receptive. So, upon starting to work on something, you have to let go of all little and big things that are currently bothering you. Shove them away from your consciousness and focus on just the task in front of you. If you need to call someone, by all means make that call. If you work at home, and you have to feed your pet, do it fast. If you need to water the plants, do it then go back to your desk. Take a breath, relax, then start working.

3. When you’re tired, your brain becomes more creative.

I know it’s counter intuitive, but your brain is more creative when you’re tired, not when you’re well rested.

“The reason behind this is that a tired brain struggles to filter out distractions and focus on one thing. It’s also more likely to wander off on tangents. While that seems like a bad thing when you’re working, creative thinking actually benefits from distractions and random thoughts. Research has shown that we’re better at “thinking outside the box” at our non-optimal times.” ~ BELLE BETH COOPERBUFFER

Cooper further illustrates the point by sharing an article from the Scientific American. I was dumbfounded to know that distractions are actually good for creative thinking:

Insight problems involve thinking outside the box. This is where susceptibility to “distraction” can be of benefit. At off-peak times we are less focused, and may consider a broader range of information. This wider scope gives us access to more alternatives and diverse interpretations, thus fostering innovation and insight.

4. Take a 20-minute walk everyday.

It’s true, exercise can help us get creative. We all know this. However, sometimes it gets to a point when we get too driven about working out. You go to the gym. You go biking, and go swimming. So you might say, what’s that, a 20-minute walk? You belittle the exercise and you doubt whether it’s worth the effort or not. Open your mind. Engage in a 20-minute walk and watch as the whole world unfolds. Witness the sun rising, observe the people as they prepare for another business day at the market. Stop for a while, and smell coffee brewing. Observe the movement of leaves as they fall on the street. Smell flowers as they bloom. Watch as the world slowly shows its beauty to you.

5. Creativity points to ambient noises as the best background.

I’ve always believed that silence is the best background for working on creative projects. My jaws dropped when I got a revelation: ambient noises with the right levels are way better for creative thinking than the sound of silence. Although, silence works well with a more intense focus, making it perfect for problem solving and with detail intensive tasks, creative thinking, on the contrary, thrives in places with cafe like noises. This promotes inventiveness, and broad range mental activity.

That’s the main point in having tools such as Coffitivity to deliver ambient café sounds to your desk.

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    6. Listen to a genre of music you have never explored.

    After watching Slumdog millionaire, I got interested in Indian music. Don’t worry, the Internet is a blessing when it comes to seeking for different kinds of music; even the hard-to-find ones. I got all the Indian music I could listen to from lastfm.com and other sites. New music has power to touch areas in our brain, aside from the auditory cortex, that produces chemical changes resulting to amplified creative abilities.

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    7. Constraints can be favorable to creative work.

    Many people especially those who are artistically inclined believe that freedom spells better creative results. They are proven wrong with the information that is about to be poured out. Cooper further explains,

    “Counterintuitively, it turns out that constraints can actually increase our creative output.” This is due to the fact that if the overwhelm of too many choices is removed from the equation, creativity will flow.

    Another way of defining creativity is the ability to transcend constraints. In other words, to be creative means to device a clever way of getting out from a difficult situation, or unleash a fresh idea to turn the lack of resources into an advantage. I’m reminded of the Ramones and the Sex Pistols when talking about this premise. They are bands whose lack of formal training became an advantage rather than a limiting factor. Film makers Spike Lee & Richard Rodriguez, are good examples of this definition too. Their first films only cost them an amount that is even lower than the price of a new car.

    8. Be silent.

    I know some people who can’t stand silence. However, in silence we can hear the voice of creativity. Well, maybe not right away, but if you do it more often, it will come. According to Christine Kane, here’s how to do it. After dark, light a few candles. Just sit quietly doing nothing. Watch the candles. The world has turn really noisy. Allow silence to rule your world once in a while. Drive without music on. Clean the house minus your headphones. Observe the plants and the flowers when watering. Just be quiet.

    9. Dim lighting makes us feel more free.

    Turning the lights low can allow us to feel more free. I know that’s not believable at first, but keep on reading. Soon you’ll be enlightened. Like the title of Hemingway’s masterpiece, a clean well-lighted place is the ideal workplace for me ’cause I’m astigmatic. I tend to prefer bright lights, whether natural or electric. I’m drawn to them especially when I need to read novelesque resources. Then, I got surprised by a research proving that the dim kind of lighting elevates creative performance.

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    Researchers had six different studies. All point to the fact that dim lights enhance creativity. The experts discovered that even if the participants don’t notice changes in visibility, if the lighting gets dim, they became more creative. What’s the logic behind this? The participants’ subconscious felt more free to explore: “…darkness elicits a feeling of being free from constraints and triggers a risky, explorative processing style.”

    In case you can’t control the lighting in your area, you can use your imagination. Envision yourself being in the dark and it could have an effect:

    “Other experiments found that merely priming the idea of darkness—such as by taking five minutes to describe an experience of literally being in the dark, and recalling how it felt—was sufficient to boost creativity.”

    10. Visit a gallery.

    I also got this idea from Kane. She says explore another artist’s work. Make a point to experience the artistry of a gifted individual in photography, or sculpture, or pottery. Just so you won’t worry, you don’t need to buy anything from the gallery. Just appreciating another person’s art will get your creative juices flowing again.

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    Anthony Dejolde

    TV/Radio personality who educates his audience on entrepreneurship, productivity, and leadership.

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    Last Updated on January 6, 2021

    14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

    14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

    Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

    In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

    For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

    For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

    Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

    Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

    Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

    How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

    Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

    1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

    Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

    For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

    2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

    Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

    Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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    Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

    3. Create a System

    Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

    This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

    You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

    Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

    Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

    4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

    We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

    If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

    Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

    Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

    5. Use a Ratings Scale

    Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

    Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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    It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

    6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

    This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

    You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

    You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

    7. Offer Feedback Forms

    Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

    First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

    Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

    You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    8. Track Cost Effectiveness

    This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

    Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

    Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

    9. Use Self-Evaluations

    Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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    Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

    10. Monitor Time Management

    This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

    Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

      The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

      While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

      11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

      We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

      Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

      For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

      Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

      Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

      From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

      12. Utilize Peer Feedback

      This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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      Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

      Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

      It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

      13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

      When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

      Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

      Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

      14. Use an External Evaluator

      Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

      They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

      While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

      Final Thoughts

      These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

      The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

      The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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      Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

      Reference

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