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10 Ways To Be The Most Creative (and Indispensable) Person At Your Work

10 Ways To Be The Most Creative (and Indispensable) Person At Your Work

“Creativity is just connecting things.” — Steve Jobs

Does your thinking about creativity go something like this: Creativity seems to be a lucky gift bestowed upon just a few souls. Creative people swoop in and save the day when a fresh idea is needed to overcome a product’s or a company’s current weakness. But you’ll never be Steve Jobs or Don Draper, instead you mill away with your uncreative life, resigned to the knowledge that you just don’t have that gift. Meanwhile the ‘idea guys’ (or girls) move ahead and wow their superiors.

This view is erroneous in many ways. The most important way in which it’s wrong is its complete misunderstanding of what creativity is. Creativity isn’t just the ability to brainstorm, or come up with fanciful artistic concepts. Creativity is about making connections between ideas in a unique way. And that’s something that we can all do, because the connections we make are all unique to us.

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Maybe you’re the only salsa dancer in your corporation. Or, while everyone in your office loves Duck Dynasty, you’re the only adult that can honestly say you still watch Scooby-Doo cartoons on the weekends. These traits are unique to you and the connections you make with them will be the key to creating unique ideas.

What follows are 10 tips and tools for drawing those unique connections out and using them to become the most creative you possible:

1. Realize The Connections You Make Are Unique

You are the only one who has your life experience, and it’s the connections this experience generates that lead to creativity. Realizing that the ideas you’re having are unique to you as an individual lends them credence, they’re not to be taken lightly because they are ideas only you could have developed.

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2. Learn About The Subject

Learning fertilizes new ideas. When you learn about a subject your brain is firing at full speed, making new connections to aid your understanding; these new connections are the ‘creativity’ you seek. Pick up a book about the subject you’re trying to tackle. I guarantee by the end of the first chapter you’ll notice all the new connections your mind is generating as you learn the subject matter.

3. Talk To Someone Else

Ideally it would be someone who knows more about the subject than you do. For instance emailing an advertising blogger and asking for a few minutes to chat on the phone about a marketing strategy your company is looking to develop. Or, on the other hand, someone totally unlike yourself — your cousin’s boyfriend who manages a coffee shop, or your friend’s cousin who is an aspiring country music star. Take the them and your common friend out for coffee and talk about the project, then listen to what they think. And really listen, they see the world differently from you and the connections they make will be unlike any connections made by you or your co-workers.

4. Come Up With Bad Ideas

Take a piece of paper and resolve to fill it up with ideas, even if you need just one. Then write the ideas you have down, not just the good ones, but the bad ones, too. Fill that sheet of paper up and pare down the bad ideas after you finish. But get the bad ideas onto the paper because oftentimes bad ideas lead to great ones later on.

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5. Write Your Ideas Down

Your brain is making unique connections all day long, you can’t help it. When you go to the grocery store and see a new display, when you read a book, or when you watch a movie your brain is making connections. You simply don’t notice them, so start writing these connections down. Keep a notepad on you and write down these creative (sometimes silly) ideas. This will get you used to noticing these connections and will make it easier for you to generate new ideas when you’re called upon to do so.

6. Learn New Things

This differs from tip number 2 because it doesn’t have to pertain to a specific subject. Even if something doesn’t relate directly to your life or your work, learn about it. New things create new connections. It’s completely possible that the documentary you watched on Leonardo da Vinci could create a connection that seems like creativity gold to your manager at work. So, anything you want to learn about — art, music, anything — can lead to new connections and fresh ideas.

7. Do Creative Things

Whether it’s sketching, painting, writing short stories, or woodworking, nurse your creative gene if you want your creativity to become more reliable. The more creative you allow your life to be, the more creative you can be at work, where your creativity will count.

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8. Travel More

It doesn’t have to be a weekend in the Caribbean, but a short drive to the country to hit up the rural fruit stands will create new experiences for you. New experiences are the foundation for new connections, so start collecting new experiences with weekend drives to the other side of town where you can go for a short walk or try a new restaurant.

9. Join A Club

This is like a steroid shot for boosting creativity. You gain a wealth of new knowledge, new experiences, and new interactions in a short period of time. Your brain is racing to create new connections and your creativity level shoots through the roof. In addition to this, clubs are a great place to network. Meetup.com is a great place to find all kinds of clubs for a variety of interests.

10. Be Present

When you’re thinking about what you want for dinner tonight your brain is ignoring the stimuli around it and is instead taking a predictable, uncreative route. Instead, try and be present more often, allow your brain to take note of what is being said around you, what you’re seeing, and even what you’re thinking, let these connections flow and use them to get comfortable generating new ideas.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

We all have those days when completing our assigned tasks seems beyond reach. With the temptation of social media, mobile games, and the internet in general—not to mention the constant bustle of people in the office—it’s easy to fall prey to disruptions and distractions at work.

So, what can we do about it? How to be productive at work?

While we don’t have a foolproof system that can completely eliminate disturbances and diversions, we do have 9 ground rules that can be applied to help give your productivity levels a boost.

Keep reading to find out our tips on work productivity.

What Does It Mean to Be Productive?

How to be productive at work?” is the age-old question plaguing employees and employers alike around the world. Regardless of where you work and what you do, everyone is always looking for new ways to be more efficient and effective.

But what does being productive actually entail?

Completing more tasks on your list or working longer hours doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being more productive. It just means you’re more busy, and productivity shouldn’t be confused with busyness.

Productivity means achieving effective results in as short amount of time as possible, leaving you with more time to enjoy freely.

It involves working smarter, not harder. It means refining processes, speeding up workflows, and reducing the chances of interruptions.

Productivity is best achieved when looking at your current way of working, identifying the bottlenecks, flaws, and hindrances, and then finding ways to improve.

9 Ground Rules on How to Be Productive at Work

1. Avoid Multitasking

Multitasking can give the impression that more tasks can be accomplished as you’re doing multiple things at once. However, the opposite is true.

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Research has shown that attempting to do several things at the same time takes a toll on productivity and that shifting between tasks can cost up to 40 percent of someone’s time.[1] That’s because your focus and concentration is constantly hindered due to having to switch between tasks.

If you have a lot of tasks on your plate, determine your priorities and allocate enough time for each task. That way you can work on what’s urgent first and have enough time to complete the rest of your tasks.

2. Turn off Notifications

According to a Gallup poll, more than 50 percent of US smartphone owners admit to checking their phones a few times an hour.[2]

Switching off your phone—or at least your notifications—during work hours is a good way to prevent you from checking your phone all the time.

The same applies to your computer. If you have the privilege of accessing social media on your work desktop, switch off the notifications on there.

Another good tip is to logout from your social media accounts. Therefore when you feel the urge to check it, you might be swayed because your page isn’t so easily accessible.

3. Manage Interruptions

There are certain disruptions in the office that are unavoidable such as your manager requesting a quick meeting or your colleague asking for assistance. In order to deal with this, your best approach is to know how to handle interruptions like a pro.

Be proactive and inform the people around you of your need to focus. Turn your status on as “busy/unavailable” on your work chat app.

If you’re on a deadline, let your colleagues know that you need to concentrate and would really appreciate not being interrupted for the moment, or even work from home if that’s a feasible option for you.

By anticipating and having a plan in place to manage them, this will minimize your chances of being affected by interruptions.

4. Eat the Frog

Mark Twain once famously said that:

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“if it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

What this basically means is that you should get your biggest, most urgent task out of the way first.

We all have that big, important task that we don’t want to do but know we have to do because it holds the biggest consequence if we don’t complete it.

Eat the frog is a productivity technique that encourages you to do your most important, most undesirable task first. Completing this particular task before anything else will give you a huge sense of accomplishment. It will set the ball rolling for the rest of the day and motivate you to eagerly complete your other tasks.

5. Cut Down on Meetings

Meetings can use up a lot of time, which is time that can be used to do something useful.

You have to wait for everyone to arrive, then after the pleasantries are out of the way, you can finally get stuck into it. And sometimes, it may take a whole hour to iron out one single issue.

The alternative? Don’t arrange a meeting at all. You’ll be surprised at how many things can be resolved through an email or a quick phone call.

But that doesn’t mean you should eliminate meetings altogether. There are certain circumstances where face-to-face discussions and negotiations are still necessary. Just make sure you weigh up the options prior.

If it’s just information sharing, you’re probably better off sending an email; but if brainstorming or in-depth discussion is required, then an in-person meeting would be best.

6. Utilize Tools

Having the right tools to work with is crucial as you’re only really as good as the resources you have at your disposal. Not only will you be able to complete tasks as efficiently as possible, but they can streamline processes. Said processes are essential to a business as they manage tasks, keep employees connected, and hold important data.

If you’re the manager or business owner, ensure your team has the right tools in place.

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And if you’re an employee and think the tools you currently have to work with aren’t quite up to par, let your manager know. A good team leader understands the significance of having the right tools and how it can impact employee productivity.

Some examples of tools that could be used:

Communication
  • Slack for team chat and collaboration.
  • Samepage for video conference software.
  • Zendesk for customer service engagement.
Task Management
  • Zenkit for task and project collaboration.
  • Wunderlist for listing your to-do’s.
  • Wekan for an open source option.
Database Management
Time Tracking
  • Clockify for a free tracker.
  • TMetric for workspace integrations.
  • TimeCamp for attendance and productivity monitoring.

You can also take a look at these Top 10 Productivity Tools to Help You Achieve 10x More in Less Time.

7. Declutter and Organize

Having a disorganized and cluttered workspace can limit your ability to focus. According to researchers, physical clutter can negatively impact your ability to concentrate and take in information.[3] Which is why keeping your work environment well ordered and clutter-free is important.

Ensure you have your own system of organization so you know what to do when the paperwork starts to pile up.

Being organized will also ensure that you know where to find the appropriate stationery, tools, or documents when you need it. A US study reveals that the average worker can waste up to one week a year looking for misplaced items.[4]

Here’s a useful guide to help you declutter and organize: How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress (The Ultimate Guide)

8. Take Breaks

Taking regular breaks is essential for maintaining productivity at work. Working in front of a computer can lead to a sedentary lifestyle which can place you at a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Even a 30 second microbreak can increase your productivity levels up to 30 percent.

As well as your physical health, breaks are also crucial for your mental and emotional wellbeing. That’s because your brain is like a muscle, the more it works without a break, the easier it is for it to get worn out.

Ensuring you actually take your breaks can prevent you from suffering from decision fatigue. It can also help boost creativity.

Take a look at this article and learn why you should start scheduling time for breaks: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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9. Drink Water

Although we know we should, it’s easy to forget to drink enough water during the working day.

Many of us turn to tea or coffee for the caffeine hit to keep us going. However, like taking breaks, drinking water is essential for maintaining productivity levels at work. It’s simple and effective.

Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration and also headaches, tiredness, and weight gain.

A good tip to avoid dehydration is to keep a water bottle at your desk as it can serve as a reminder to constantly drink water.

If you find the taste of water a little bland, add some fruit such as cucumber or lemon to give it a better taste.

You can also get more ideas on how to drink more water here: How to Drink More Water (and Why You Should)

The Bottom Line

The preceding 9 ground rules on work productivity aren’t the be-all, end-all. You and the company you work for may have other tips on how productivity is best increased and maintained.

After all, it’s something that can be perceived differently depending on the exact job and work environment.

In saying that, however, the 9 ground rules serve as a good foundation for anyone finding themselves succumbing to disruption and distraction, and are looking for ways to overcome them.

A good tip to keep in mind is that change doesn’t happen overnight. Start small and be consistent. If you slip up, just dust yourself off and try again.

Developing habits happens gradually, so as long as you keep up with it, you’ll soon start to notice the changes you’ve been making and eventually enjoy the fruits of your labor.

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Featured photo credit: Cathryn Lavery via unsplash.com

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