11.10.16

Making space for creativity

By: Karl R. LaPan, President & CEO, Northeast Indiana Innovation Center

This is the first of five blogs on creativity and innovation.We all need a certain amount of structure to get things done at work. But like anything, there’s such thing as too much self-discipline. Just like you plan your day around your to-do list, you need to account for time to regroup and get those creative juices flowing.

Yes, I am saying that even the most motivated and ambitious innovators and entrepreneurs need to make time for “slack.” Carving out space in your schedule and enabling creativity to flourish in your physical space (think about where you do your best thinking) is important to the creative process. For example, Bill Gates carves out time by structuring learning around Think Weeks.

Remember, less than 20% of creativity is genetic. The rest is learned. You might consider these tips to help carve out space for creativity in your business:

First things, first. Your mother was right about the basics. Aim for eight hours of sleep, eat healthy food to fuel your mind and body, and be active daily (it can be walking, meditating, reading a book, listening to a podcast.) The key is to develop a rhythm in your life. Before you can go out there and consistently wow them with your next big idea, you have to ensure an appropriate balance in your wheel of life (physical, intellectual, emotional/relationships and spiritual). Appropriate balancing of the 4 major factors is key to happiness. (Note I did not say the four factors are equal in importance or in weighting at a particular time in your life.)

Change your virtual habits. The media you consume—whether for business or pleasure– matters and can affect your output. Read blogs and listen to videos that inspire and motivate you to be better. TED.com is a prime example of such intellectual fodder. Also, tune in regularly to your mood. If you find some content produces negative feelings, then consider taking a break from this type of material and find something that serves you. Without much political editorializing, we all need a break from the media after this tumultuous election cycle

Recharge your batteries (Make room for free time.) Are you always plugged in? You could be doing yourself a disservice in the creativity department. You’re best served to block out chunks of time during the week for recharging your mind and body. While I am a terrible poster child for this, yes, most emails can wait to be answered. Many executives are changing their habits to resetting people’s expectations on when they will be reading and responding to emails they receive. It’s exciting to discover that when you allow for time for play with no clear focus, you create room for new ideas and spontaneity. Some of the best business ideas are conceived in this space.

Dream a little (or maybe a lot!). Over-analysis is the kiss of death for innovation. Instead of picking apart every new idea that comes to mind, allow yourself the mental space to scheme and dream. You never know what next big idea could come out of some “dream storming.” What would happen if you entertained every new idea that came to mind? The possibilities are endless!

Habits take focus, practice, and discipline. What one habit can you adopt this week to foster more creativity in your business and in your life?

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