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Control Creativity: Channel These Ways to Turn Your Creativity On and Off

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Control Creativity: Channel These Ways to Turn Your Creativity On and Off

Whether you work in a creative field or just enjoy being artistic and creative as a hobby, it can sometimes be hard to work in the time you have available. We don’t always have the freedom to drop work, chores, or social obligations in order to follow our muse and see how artistic we can truly be. Check out these ways to turn your creativity on and off, and see how much you can control creativity.

1. Don’t over think anything.

Write down the first thing that comes to your mind. Defer judgment as long as you can; as soon as you let that critical side of your mind open up, you’ll be second guessing everything you do, whether you’re drawing, painting, writing, sculpting—anything! Just get something done before you look it over. The quicker you can get something done, the more creative you’re likely to be because you’re not letting the logical side of your brain take over.

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It’s so easy to let yourself over think every little thing, from what you’ll wear today to how your coworkers will react to your presentation. You second guess yourself once you consider your audience and what kind of reactions and critiques you’ll get. In reality, you don’t need to worry about this at all. Sometimes the craziest, strangest ideas are the ones that turn out the best, so don’t over think things on the front end. Creativity is all about you, so let yourself do whatever strikes your fancy. Have fun with it!

2. Look at things as if you were a child.

Remember when you were a kid and had to make up your own toys? I made dollhouse furniture out of bottle caps, boxes, and pipe cleaners. There are days now when I look at these supplies and wonder what I could make with them, whereas in childhood, I’d craft a table and chairs in no time. I used to color pictures of imaginary animals without worrying that they couldn’t really exist in our world. Do you have similar memories? Anything seemed possible when we were kids, but years of traditional schooling and falling into line in the workplace has trained us to think in a certain way. We have to think logically—everything has to make sense. We have to think in a linear manner—this leads to that which leads to this.

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Everyone says to think outside the box, but it’s harder to do than you might think. Instead of pushing yourself to think creatively, which will probably pressure and stifle you even more, look at things as if you were a child again. Nothing has to make sense, you just have to be able to imagine it. If you can think it up, it can be true. Use this whimsical, silly approach in your writing, art, and other creative endeavors. Letting go of traditional rules will help you feel more free with your creativity.

3. Find inspiration in everything.

Finding inspiration in anything around you will spark creativity. Let your imagination roam when you’re out and about, or even if you’re stuck inside your home or office! Look at what’s around you. The front yard looks a little overgrown, but instead of pushing away from your creativity and getting out the lawn mower, let your imagination loose. That tall grass would be a great place for elves to hide—maybe this inspires a story or drawing. Instead of sighing as you turn on your computer in the mornings, think of how things work behind the screen, and let your imagination wonder about how it was invented, what it takes to make it run, and see where your mind takes you from there. Instead of letting the mundane daily tasks get you down, turn them into something more fun and interesting.

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4. Strive for quantity.

The more you come up with, the more likely one will be worth exploring. If you’re a writer, don’t be afraid to jot down a dozen ideas, or start three stories at once. You never know which one will turn out to be your favorite. Don’t censor yourself and insist you just focus on one thing at a time—who knows what you’ll be missing out on! Same for visual artists: why limit yourself to one canvas or sculpture? Why not work on one until you can’t think of what to do next, and then start working on another? It’s only natural that being creative in one instance will keep your brain active enough to come up with more ideas, so don’t stifle that. Encourage yourself to come up with as many ideas as possible, and follow through on all of these to see where they take you.

Try any or all of these approaches to turning on creativity and see where it takes you and your art. You might be surprised with what you’re able to come up with!

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Featured photo credit: Johann Dreo via flickr.com

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Published on September 21, 2021

How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

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How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

The internet is flooded with articles about remote work and its benefits or drawbacks. But in reality, the remote work experience is so subjective that it’s impossible to draw general conclusions and issue one-size-fits-all advice about it. However, one thing that’s universal and rock-solid is data. Data-backed findings and research about remote work productivity give us a clear picture of how our workdays have changed and how work from home affects us—because data doesn’t lie.

In this article, we’ll look at three decisive findings from a recent data study and two survey reports concerning remote work productivity and worker well-being.

1. We Take Less Frequent Breaks

Your home can be a peaceful or a distracting place depending on your living and family conditions. While some of us might find it hard to focus amidst the sounds of our everyday life, other people will tell you that the peace and quiet while working from home (WFH) is a major productivity booster. Then there are those who find it hard to take proper breaks at home and switch off at the end of the workday.

But what does data say about remote work productivity? Do we work more or less in a remote setting?

Let’s take a step back to pre-pandemic times (2014, to be exact) when a time tracking application called DeskTime discovered that 10% of most productive people work for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes.

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Recently, the same time tracking app repeated that study to reveal working and breaking patterns during the pandemic. They found that remote work has caused an increase in time worked, with the most productive people now working for 112 minutes and breaking for 26 minutes.[1]

Now, this may seem rather innocent at first—so what if we work for extended periods of time as long as we also take longer breaks? But let’s take a closer look at this proportion.

While breaks have become only nine minutes longer, work sprints have more than doubled. That’s nearly two hours of work, meaning that the most hard-working people only take three to four breaks per 8-hour workday. This discovery makes us question if working from home (WFH) really is as good a thing for our well-being as we thought it was. In addition, in the WFH format, breaks are no longer a treat but rather a time to squeeze in a chore or help children with schoolwork.

Online meetings are among the main reasons for less frequent breaks. Pre-pandemic meetings meant going to another room, stretching your legs, and giving your eyes a rest from the computer. In a remote setting, all meetings happen on screen, sometimes back-to-back, which could be one of the main factors explaining the longer work hours recorded.

2. We Face a Higher Risk of Burnout

At first, many were optimistic about remote work’s benefits in terms of work-life balance as we save time on commuting and have more time to spend with family—at least in theory. But for many people, this was quickly counterbalanced by a struggle to separate their work and personal lives. Buffer’s 2021 survey for the State of Remote Work report found that the biggest struggle of remote workers is not being able to unplug, with collaboration difficulties and loneliness sharing second place.[2]

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Buffer’s respondents were also asked if they are working more or less since their shift to remote work, and 45 percent admitted to working more. Forty-two percent said they are working the same amount, while 13 percent responded that they are working less.

Longer work hours and fewer quality breaks can dramatically affect our health, as long-term sitting and computer use can cause eye strain, mental fatigue, and other issues. These, in turn, can lead to more severe consequences, such as burnout and heart disease.

Let’s have a closer look at the connection between burnout and remote work.

McKinsey’s report about the Future of work states that 49% of people say they’re feeling some symptoms of burnout.[3] And that may be an understatement since employees experiencing burnout are less likely to respond to survey requests and may have even left the workforce.

From the viewpoint of the employer, remote workers may seem like they are more productive and working longer hours. However, managers must be aware of the risks associated with increased employee anxiety. Otherwise, the productivity gains won’t be long-lasting. It’s no secret that prolonged anxiety can reduce job satisfaction, decrease work performance, and negatively affect interpersonal relationships with colleagues.[4]

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3. Despite everything, We Love Remote Work

An overwhelming majority—97 percent—of Buffer report’s survey respondents say they would like to continue working remotely to some extent. The two main benefits mentioned by the respondents are the ability to have a flexible schedule and the flexibility to work from anywhere.

McKinsey’s report found that more than half of employees would like their workplace to adopt a more flexible hybrid virtual-working model, with some days of work on-premises and some days working remotely. To be more exact, more than half of employees report that they would like at least three work-from-home days a week once the pandemic is over.

Companies will increasingly be forced to find ways to satisfy these workforce demands while implementing policies to minimize the risks associated with overworking and burnout. Smart companies will embrace this new trend and realize that adopting hybrid models can also be a win for them—for example, for accessing talent in different locations and at a lower cost.

Remote Work: Blessing or Plight?

Understandably, workers worldwide are tempted to keep the good work-life aspects that have come out of the pandemic—professional flexibility, fewer commutes, and extra time with family. But with the once strict boundaries between work and life fading, we must remain cautious. We try to squeeze in house chores during breaks. We do online meetings from the kitchen or the same couch we watch TV shows from, and many of us report difficulties switching off after work.

So, how do we keep our private and professional lives from hopelessly blending together?

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The answer is that we try to replicate the physical and virtual boundaries that come naturally in an office setting. This doesn’t only mean having a dedicated workspace but also tracking your work time and stopping when your working hours are finished. In addition, it means working breaks into your schedule because watercooler chats don’t just naturally happen at home.

If necessary, we need to introduce new rituals that resemble a normal office day—for example, going for a walk around the block in the morning to simulate “arriving at work.” Remote work is here to stay. If we want to enjoy the advantages it offers, then we need to learn how to cope with the personal challenges that come with it.

Learn how to stay productive while working remotely with these tips: How to Work From Home: 10 Tips to Stay Productive

Featured photo credit: Jenny Ueberberg via unsplash.com

Reference

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