Even if your business card doesn’t read “sculptor” or “novelist,” creativity is probably one of the most important traits in your work life.
On an organizational level, creativity is how companies innovate and stay ahead of rapid changes in industry. Agile companies that harness employee creativity tend to be more successful than those that get stuck in one way of doing things.
Creativity helps individuals problem-solve effectively. Thinking creatively is also a great way to stay engaged in your work. And expressing your creativity is linked to better physical and mental health.
Organizations can work hard to hire creative people, but setting up a culture where people feel free to engage in that creativity is equally important. Here are a few ways to support creativity in your company:
Foster an open and nonjudgmental organization. It’s great when employees are encouraged to bring new ideas and solutions to the table. But it’s even better when it’s clear that those ideas are being taken seriously. When employees know their ideas are valued, they are likely to keep contributing them.
Create communication channels between departments. Sometimes the best solutions come from outside the box—that is, the box of your own department. Outsiders often have a broader perspective on an issue than those who are deep inside the day-to-day details.
Design the office space to support creative work. Creativity can be the result of individual effort or collaboration. Having spaces where workers can go for privacy or to work together helps set the stage for new strategies.
How do you keep your own personal creativity sharp when the stress of everyday life threatens to wear you down?
Cultivate your interests. Unlike other resources, using your creativity doesn’t tend to deplete your reserves of it—just the opposite! So whether you knit, bake, paint, craft, or write, make time to enjoy the pursuits that nourish you.
Unplug and go outside. Given all of the other positive aspects of being in the outdoors, it’s not exactly a surprise that studies have shown that natural settings enhance creativity. Why? Researchers think it may have to do with the fact that when we spend time in nature, we usually disconnect from our ubiquitous technology.
Give yourself some downtime. Have you ever noticed that sometimes the solution to a problem that has been vexing you comes after you turn your attention to other things? Giving yourself a little time during the workday to just veg out and daydream can give your creativity a reboot.
Keep up on your health habits. It’s hard to be creative when you’re fatigued and your brain isn’t well-nourished. Get enough sleep every night, eat a healthy diet high in fruits and veggies, and move your body regularly.
Be curious. Taking an interest in ideas, people, and the world around you helps keep you connected. By staying actively engaged, you’ll absorb new ways of thinking and keep your creative juices flowing.
Miriam Wolf is the editor of The FruitGuys Magazine newsletter.