creativity Archives - Appointment - Online Appointment Scheduling Software

The Importance of Creativity in the Workplace

By | Business Tips | No Comments
Creative Mural on Building

The cornerstones of productivity are staying organized, mission-driven, and efficient. But, staying creative shouldn’t come at the expense of those pillars. On the contrary, creativity is becoming an increasingly valuable asset in the workplace for both individuals and teams.

Furthermore, the World Economic Forum states that creativity is or is related to nine of the ten skills that will define the world in 2020 and beyond. In addition to increasing confidence and collaboration, being creative increases problem-solving skills.

But that’s not all. In business, creativity has the following benefits.

Goes hand-in-hand with innovation.

Innovation requires two ingredients: novelty and utility. Unfortunately, despite the importance of creativity in generating unique and original ideas, they’re not always practical. Creative solutions, however, are essential for innovative solutions.

Leads to productivity.

Creativity fosters productivity as long as the work environment allows them to coexist. As a result, creativity can lead to productivity in the following ways:

  • Prevents getting stuck in a rut.
    • There’s nothing wrong with routines. However, sometimes you need to shake things up and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Doing so will expose you to fresh ideas and perspectives.
  • Solves bigger problems.
    • You and employees will be able to see the bigger picture and focus their energy on issues that significantly impact the company when creative thinking is encouraged. When employees can apply these efforts to bigger-picture problems rather than simply churning out work, they are more productive — and the business thrives.
  • When employees are encouraged to be creative, their workplaces will be changed for the better.
    • Motivation comes from allowing people to make a tangible, visible difference in their workplace. You don’t want to feel like a drone, mindlessly completing tasks without any apparent impact on your life.
  • People get emotionally involved in it.
    • Quite simply, work without passion is tedious — especially for entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs. Some people, however, require a little more motivation to spark that passion at work. Participating in the creative process empowers workers, regardless of their department or role.
  • By promoting creativity, failure becomes less likely.
    • People need the freedom to fail if they are going to foster a creative environment. Creative environments that fear failure are crippled and hamstring the flow of ideas. As a result of fear, we tend to color outside the lines, preventing us from identifying new and more effective ways of working, improving processes, streamlining operations, and creating new products.

Provides adaptability.

It may not always be necessary to adjust your business model when creatively addressing challenges. For example, to improve the efficiency of your operations, you might develop new products or services. However, don’t reject an idea because it doesn’t match the scale of a problem.

Business is a world of constant change, and adapting to it requires creative solutions.

Growth depends on it.

The idea that there is only one way to approach or interpret a situation or challenge is one of the main hindrances to a business’s growth.

It’s easy to fall into cognitive fixedness because it can be tempting to approach every situation the same way you have in the past. There are, however, differences between each situation.

A company’s leaders can stagnate if they do not take the time to understand the circumstances they face, foster creative thinking, and act on findings.

The skill is in demand.

Top industries like health care and manufacturing value creativity and innovation. It is mainly due to the complexity of challenges faced by every industry.

How to Encourage Creativity in the Workplace

So, we know that creativity is essential. But, how exactly can you encourage creativity in the workplace?

1. Schedule opportunities for creative thinking.

“Creative thinking can often be overlooked if it doesn’t get time on our calendars,” writes Nathan Rawlins in CIO. “There will always be more meetings and tasks to check off our lists, so it’s important to actually book time for creative activities.”

For example, hackathons have resulted in significant updates for our product offerings. In two to three days, teams spend a lot of time thinking creatively, collaborating, and testing out ideas outside the box. “The results are fantastic features that bring value to both the product and the company,” adds Rawlins. “Additionally, these events boost morale and demonstrate our commitment to creativity and innovation.”

2. Instill autonomy.

Increased responsibility and autonomy will likely lead to the generation of more ideas, as well as a greater sense of pride and confidence in your team’s skills.

Broadly, this could allow your team to work however they want, instead of micromanaging. More specifically, you let your team choose the agenda when meeting one-on-one.

3. Implement flexible work hours.

Consider offering flexible or work-from-home hours for specific roles requiring only an internet connection. When employees work from home, they can think more clearly, come up with more innovative ideas, and reduce their stress levels.

Establish clear expectations and guidelines to ensure steady productivity at home. And plan a flexible schedule that suits managers and their teams and the company’s requirements.

4. Don’t worry about “how.”

“Leaders unknowingly weaken their team’s creativity by focusing too early on implementation,” says Lisa Guice, Lisa Guice Global-Vision, LLC. “The fastest way to kill the creative process is by requiring your team to produce tactical solutions in tandem with creative ideas.”

This not only stifles the creative flow but also shifts the work environment into a “produce while editing” mindset, which results in a diminished individual contribution.”

5. De-silo your organization.

For innovative teamwork to take place, it is essential that a collaborative and social environment is created. Managers will notice a significant difference when they take steps to “de-silo” their organizations.

In addition to working on their own projects, employees can interact with colleagues in other departments and learn more about the company. As a result, ideas and inspiration will flow freely throughout departments, sparking workplace creativity.

Furthermore, humor is great for team building, inclusivity, and creativity.

What if you have a primarily remote or hybrid team? You might want to set up a Slack or similar chat channel called “water cooler.” By doing so, your employees can engage in some friendly office banter. Or, at the end of your team meetings, schedule time for everyone to discuss their plans for the weekend.

Playfulness creates a sense of belonging and safety, inspiring creativity.

6. Get walking.

Regarding fresh thinking, walking is one of the oldest and most effective sources. “Walking meetings” were a popular method used by Steve Jobs to foster connection and creativity with coworkers and collaborators.

In addition, Harvard Medical School researchers found that walking meetings enhanced creativity by 5.25% and engagement by 8.5%. Stanford University researchers also discovered that walking increased creative thinking by 60%. The movement itself energizes the brain, regardless of how long or where it takes place.

7. Don’t let good ideas go to waste.

Incentives should be provided to encourage employees to share their ideas. One suggestion is to implement the best ideas and to acknowledge other people’s efforts. To let the employee know you plan to implement their ideas, I suggest you personalize your message. Finally, if the change is successful, notify the team of the inspiration behind it.

To foster innovation, it is important to address and publicly commend good ideas. As a result, team members feel more inspired to share their ideas and opinions.

8. Encourage self-reflection.

You’ll find that your employees become absorbed in their work and forget the importance of what they’re doing when the workload picks up. To combat this, make check-ins for self-reflection a habit for employees. By doing this exercise, they are inspired to see things from a different perspective, both in terms of what they have achieved and what lies ahead.

Your team can also see the concrete results of their hard work and innovative solutions by sharing monthly or quarterly achievements.

9. Allow for failure.

When you ask your employees for their creative input, ensure they know you don’t expect perfection or thoroughly polished work. To be able to take risks without negative consequences, staff members need to be allowed to develop plans that go awry. The ability to fail wisely is a valuable skill for managers and companies.

“Once [employees] see, firsthand, the value of putting out what we call a ‘low-resolution prototype’ and getting feedback from a key constituent, and seeing how that direct[s] the next step, people start to become believers in that process,” explains Graham Henshaw, executive director of the Alan B. Miller Entrepreneurship Center at William & Mary’s Raymond A. Mason School of Business, on the W&M Leadership and Business podcast. “[Innovators must have] an openness to risk… You’re willing to take risks where you might fail, but you learn something from that failure and move forward,” he continued, emphasizing, “[You need] a tolerance for ambiguity…you’re withholding that need for immediate closure.”

10. Set a tone of risk-taking.

Most professionals feel that their firms and departments are not taking enough risks. However, the risk is essential to enhance your business’s competitive advantage and encourage workplace creativity.

When appropriate, empower employees to make bold decisions and push them to take calculated risks instead of micromanaging them.

The Importance of Creativity in the Workplace was originally published on by Deanna Ritchie. Featured Image Credit: NextVoyage; Pexels. Thank you!

10 Creative Hacks to Foment Productivity

By | Appointment | No Comments
10 Creative Hacks to Foment Productivity

There seems to be a misconception that both individuals and organizations must choose between being creative or being productive. In a way, that does make sense.

“There is a fundamental tension between productivity and creativity, and managers won’t get more of the latter until they recognize it,” Art Markman writes in HBR. “Productive people move through the tasks they have to accomplish systematically. They make steady and measurable progress toward their goals. They make effective and efficient use of their time.”

“Creativity… doesn’t,” he adds. “Creativity needs time and space to grow.

At the same time, as Boland Jones points out in a previous Entrepreneur article, “that creativity leads to productivity.” According to Jones, this is true because;

  • Creativity promotes working without boundaries.
  • Helps tackle bigger problems.
  • Can motivate you and/or your employees by either sprucing up their workplace or letting their innovative ideas to be heard.
  • Spark passion, which in turn gets people emotionally invested.
  • Removes the fear of failure.

Moreover, creativity has long been found to increase profitability.

“If two firms have the same profitability at year 1, by year 5, the non-innovative company will have 75% to 80% less profit than the innovative one,” wrote Yoram Solomon for Disruptor League. “After 19-20 years, the distance will shrink to 35-50%. However, if only highly profitable companies were compared, the difference after 19-20 years is 80%.”

In 2019, research from McKinsey & Co. reported that there is “a growing performance gap separating innovation ‘winners’ from companies that merely muddle along.” There are actually two reasons why this is true.

“First is the ability to set a bold yet plausible aspiration for innovation that is grounded in a clear view of the economic value that innovation needs to deliver,” the authors explain. “And the second is the ability to make tough resource-allocation choices about the people and funds required to seize innovation’s value at a scale sufficient enough to make a difference.”

Overall, if you want to boost productivity and profits, then you need to harness the power of creativity. And, here 10 ways that you can achieve this. Don’t be afraid to pass along these strategies with your team as well so that you can embrace an innovative culture.

1. Induce a state of psychological distance.

“Ever noticed how you might feel more creative about a problem when you’re further away from it–perhaps when taking a shower at home after work?” asks Karla Lant-Zapier. Well, that’s a perfect example of psychological distance.

According to psychology professor Lile Jia, psychological distance breeds creativity. Why? “Our minds are more likely to think creatively about things we aren’t experiencing right here, right now, without stress,” adds Lant-Zapier.

“That means to be creative, we need to feel a little more removed from the problem,” she states. One way to achieve this? Consider another person’s perspective. “Ask yourself: Who else is working on this problem or talking about this issue?”

You can also create psychological distance by reformulating “the task by thinking of the central issue or question as if it was hypothetical, unlikely, futuristic, distant, or unreal.” As an example, “if you want a team to come up with all possible solutions to traffic jams in a city, don’t choose your city,” suggests Lant-Zapier. “Find a sister city that is thousands of miles away, if possible, with similar statistics, to get the creative solutions started.”

Another option? Switch to another project whenever you begin to feel overwhelmed. And, always make scheduling regular breaks a priority. When you step “away from a project, you can approach it from a more objective, distant perspective when you come back.”

“Best of all, combine all the ideas,” she adds. “Take a break, and then when you come back to the task, ask yourself how others would tackle the issue and consider it from alternative perspectives.”

2. Dream a little (day)dream.

Much to the chagrin of your parents or elementary teacher, give yourself permission to daydream. According to a study in the journal Psychological Science, those who let their minds wander have a higher capacity for working memory. Possessing this allows us to think about multiple things at once — it also factors into IQ and reading comprehension.

Why’s this the case? It may be because “people who have additional working memory resources deploy them to think about things other than what they’re doing,” study researcher Jonathan Smallwood, of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Science, said in a statement.

How can you let your mind wander? One of the simplest techniques would be to let yourself get bored. For instance, read tedious reports or stand in the checkout lane sans your phone.

3. Go for a walk.

Perhaps this is the worst-kept secret when it comes to creativity. After all, some of the most innovative thinkers of all-time, such as Beethoven, Darwin, Nietzsche, and Jobs, were avid walkers. However, Stanford University’s research confirms this by finding that walking increased creativity for 81% of the participants.

“Incorporating physical activity into our lives is not only beneficial for our hearts but our brains as well. This research suggests an easy and productive way to weave it into certain work activities,” said Marily Oppezzo, Stanford University behavioral and learning scientist and study co-author. Moreover, going for a stroll can encourage more free-flowing thoughts.

Personally, I take a 20-30 minute walk during my afternoon slump. I leave my phone behind and just let my mind wander. When I come back, I’m not only refreshed and rejuvenated, I have developed new ideas.

I would also recommend that you walk around during an important phone call. Or, schedule walking meetings so that your team can foster fresh and unique ideas.

4. Shake it up.

By this, I mean disrupting your routine. You don’t have to do it daily. After all, routines provide certainty and structure.

However, don’t be afraid to occasionally break out of your comfort zone and welcome new experiences. For example, during your lunch break, leave the office and try a restaurant. Then when it’s time to get back to work, try setting up shop in a different location to add variety.

5. Develop stress management skills.

“Stress is a well-known creativity killer,” says psychologist Robert Epstein, Ph.D. As such, find ways to handle your stress better. Some suggestions include;

  • Prioritizing your well-being by eating healthy, physical activity, and getting enough sleep.
  • Spending time with friends and family can reduce cortisol levels and lower blood pressure.
  • Practicing breathing exercises.
  • Track your time identify stress triggers.
  • Use essential oils like lavender, citrus, sandalwood, peppermint, vetiver, or jasmine.
  • Celebrate your accomplishments — even your small victories.

6. Utilize music.

Music can be an incredibly powerful tool. It has the ability to improve your mood and block out distractions. Moreover, it can stimulate creative thoughts by nurturing a more imaginative and curious mind.

Look at it this way. If it worked for Albert Einstein, then it will work for you too.

“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician,” Einstein wrote in a journal entry, “I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music.” He added, “I see my life in terms of music… I get most joy in life out of music.”

If you can’t play an instrument, then at least curate a playlist. Ideally, it should connect with you on a personal level.

7. Set the right mood.

Some studies have found that being in a positive mood can spark creativity. Mainly because it boosts activity in the prefrontal cortex, as well as the anterior cingulate cortex. When you think about that, it does make sense. It’s a challenge to think creatively when you’re in a crummy mood.

Taking a walk outside can improve your mood. But, you may also want to consider other strategies like watching a funny YouTube video or playing with your kids or pet. You could also have fun at work through gamification, hackathons, or team-building activities.

8. Use visual stimuli.

Specifically, creative visualization.

According to Betterhelp, this “is a specific way of using your imagination. It’s a cognitive process that consists of forming vivid mental images. You consciously change the images, which in turn changes your emotions about the subjects of the images. As you practice visualizing the future you want, you create that future.”

Even though this concept has been can be traced back to the Roman statesman Cicero and his development of the mind’s eye, it wasn’t practiced until consciously until the 1970s. And, to set the stage, you’ll need to take the following steps;

  • Choose a small and specific goal to help you build upon success.
  • Next, form a vivid “mental image of the thing or outcome you want. Imagine it as if it already exists the way you want it.”
  • Throughout the day, revisit the image you conjured up.
  • Add positivity to the mental image that you created.

Most importantly? Keep an open mind and learn meditation.

9. Relax.

Why do we often have our most creative thoughts while in the shower? “Leisurely or relaxing activities (such as showering, exercise or driving home from work, for example) release dopamine, the chemical which provides us with a sense of enjoyment,” explains the ThinkCreative team.

“Dopamine triggers more creative thoughts by increasing activity in certain parts of the brain,” they add. “A relaxed state of mind is key to creativity because we become more insightful, leaving us more likely to make connections between ideas.”

10. Write down and organize your thoughts.

Finally, whenever you have a random thought, jot capture it. Even if it seems utterly ridiculous, there are no bad ideas. As Craig Bruce once said, “Nothing surpasses the beauty and elegance of a bad idea.”

Next, when you have downtime, organize these thoughts. Some might be worth pursuing. And the ones that aren’t can be thrown out with the trash.

How to Inspire Your Team’s Creative Impulses

By | Knowledge Base | No Comments

Creativity is more than the ability to crack a clever joke or paint something beautiful. At work, it’s essential for growth and innovation. A team that thinks outside the box can solve difficult problems in new, cost-effective ways. 

The trouble is, genuine creativity is tough to incentivize.. Simply telling your team to be more creative certainly won’t work. But rewarding creativity can also have adverse effects. It can stifle a creative process that should be rewarding in and of itself. 

Because of this, some take an “either you have it or you don’t” approach to creativity. But creativity can be cultivated, just like sales or leadership skills can be. 

With the right leadership and culture, creativity can flourish. Here’s how to be that leader for your team:

1. Diversify your team.

There are plenty of reasons to be inclusive at work, but there’s no question diverse teams are more creative. If everyone on your team comes from a similar background, you’ll likely approach issues the same way. That may make coming to a consensus easier, but challenges are necessary to refine ideas. 

Diversifying your staff involves bringing people from different cultural, religious, ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic backgrounds together. Gender, sexuality, and age are also important axes to consider. 

To deepen your team’s diversity, bring in a broad range of personality types, values, and abilities. This approach helps you appreciate the perspectives of a full person rather than a single demographic component.  

2. Empower fresh faces.

When people first start out at your company, they’re still getting used to your processes and culture. That doesn’t mean their perspective isn’t valuable, though. 

In fact, someone who isn’t fully integrated into your organization may be more valuable, creatively speaking. They can bring fresh ideas that aren’t hindered by the baggage that seasoned employees may have. 

Ask for their input during meetings. Run proposals and innovation ideas by them. Better yet, give them a project of their own to lead. 

A new employee’s creativity can also fuel the creative impulses of senior team members. In this case, a little competition can be healthy: Let employees of different tenures push each other to come up with new ideas and ways of working. 

3. Promote fictional media consumption.

The media we consume impacts us immensely. Fictional media, whether it be books, film, or television, positively impacts our creativity

Why? Because fictional narratives engage us in scenarios that aren’t found in the real world. They allow us to think through unfamiliar possibilities. Non-fiction and journalistic media simply can’t do that. 

The good news is, your employees are probably already watching TV and movies on their own. Encourage them to think critically about what they’re viewing. Consider following a series or franchise together and discussing it. Another option is to start a book club at the office to promote fiction reading. 

4. Support risk-taking efforts.

A primary reason people shy away from taking risks is they fear the consequences of failure. However, risk-taking is inherent to creativity. You can’t have one without the other. 

Ease the pressure of risk-taking for your team. Compliment people who are willing to take risks. And if an effort fails, don’t punish the people who gave it a shot. In fact, throw a party for the “biggest fail” each month.

A supported team is a risk-taking team. The more confident you can make people feel in themselves and their actions, the more willing they’ll be to try new things.

5. Don’t lead with limitations. 

When embarking on a new goal or plan, some leaders kill creativity by starting with the negative. Before the first dollar has been spent, they worry about costs. With no reason to worry about the team’s commitment, they wonder whether contributors are up to the task.

Don’t stifle your team’s imaginations. Give people the resources they need, empower them to try new things, and express confidence in them.

What if roadblocks come up? Worry about them at that time. When you set expectations around a project, what matters most is opening space for people to articulate their vision. Ground these ideas in practicalities later.

6. Visualize data. 

Words and numbers on a page can only do so much. Being more creative with how you construct and communicate data creates a flywheel effect, spurring more creativity. 

Mindmapping, flowcharts, diagrams, and hierarchical charts are great ways to represent information. They spark creativity by showing the relationships between sets of data and illuminating nuances.

Invest in a data visualization tool that even non-technical team members can use, like Tableau. Challenge people to come up with their own intriguing visualizations.

7. Enhance your office environment. 

A drab, depressing office environment doesn’t exactly encourage creativity. An inspiring office space feels fresh, exciting, and joyful. 

Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be expensive. Paint the walls a lively color. Bring in some plants and natural light. Hang your favorite art pieces up, and decorate your desk. 

While you’re at it, give employees more creative control over their personal space. Autonomy breeds creativity, which you can tap for work tasks. 

Creativity isn’t just for people in the arts. Just about everyone has a creative impulse that can be valuable to a team. The key is to invest in those impulses and bring them out whenever you can.

How Time Away from Work Increases Productivity

By | Business Tips, Scheduling, Time Management | No Comments
Many people feel you need to be a workaholic if you are going to be a success. That is not necessarily true. Of course, hard work often goes hand in hand with success and meeting our goals. But that doesn’t mean we need to kill ourselves doing it. Often when we work hard, to the point of keeling over, it’s as if we have something to prove either to ourselves or everyone else around us. It’s like we are saying, “Yes, I really can do it all.” But after a while it begins to take a toll on us. Working constantly with no break doesn’t make us more productive. In fact, time away from work actually increases productivity.

Do More in Less Time

Lack of sleep, fatigue, and stress all have effects on us. They cause a drain on our energy levels and make problem solving much more difficult. It’s hard to stay on task when we are running out of mental fuel. When rested, everything we do can be done in less time. That allows us to do more in a shorter time span.

Prevents Burn Out

Time away from work increases productivity by preventing burn out.  Vacations, morning and afternoon breaks, and lunch periods are all opportunities to shut our minds off. Allowing ourselves to disconnect gives our brains a chance to rest. Think of it like plugging in a cell phone to recharge either at night or during the day. It isn’t going to continue running if we don’t charge it up now and again.

Boosts Creativity

Many people get in a slump in the middle of the afternoon. That is the perfect time to take a fast paced, 5 to 10 minute walk. Cardio activity can actually boost our productivity for up to about two hours after exercise. This allows us to do what we do best but faster. Not only that, but it can spur our creativity and problem solving abilities as well. When we get up, even for a little while, it gets us moving and makes our heart start pumping. This increases our blood flow to every part of our bodies, including our brains. We see things differently. As we form new perspectives on issue or problems we become more innovative and creative at solving them.

Learn More

Grade school aged children get recess time at school. As it turns out, there may be a good reason for that. There is a big benefit to giving ourselves some recess time in a similar way. Once we get up and away from everything even for a little while we can come back to work and direct our focus on learning new tasks or taking on different problems.

Get Sick Less

There are health benefits to taking time away from work. Many people need fewer sick days when they are less stressed. Less stress equals better health equals greater productivity. Obviously working hard is a key part of being successful. But time away from work increases productivity too. To be the best we can, therefore, we should all take breaks periodically and work hard the rest of the time. Do you regularly take time away from work?
Originally published here.
Register Now & Get a 30 Day Trial Register Now