Finding a space where you can truly be creative is difficult. It doesn’t matter how many apps or pieces of software you have on your devices designed to shut out distractions, or how intent we are on staying focused; sometimes, you just can’t conjure up your creative spirit.
What’s often needed is some inspiration, and for most of us, inspiration comes from interaction – conscious or unconscious, direct or indirect.
In his article for Harvard Business Review, The New Science of Building Great Teams, MIT’s Alex Pentland defines the three E’s of communication:
Exploration – interacting with people in many other social groups.
Engagement – interacting with people within your social group, in reasonably equal doses, and
Energy – interacting with more people overall.
Pentland’s research is directed towards traditional workplaces, but I think it can be easily tweaked to apply to creatives, not just in their creative realms, but across their daily lives.
Exploration – moving beyond the norm, away from routine.
Engagement – willingness and ability to connect with the new.
Energy – desire to understand and grow.
These three forces are what fuel a creative’s collision with the world. I say collision because it is visceral, and so must our interaction be. People watching only goes so far in allowing creatives to experience variety.
We must explore beyond people too. Some of us may be able to fly to Hawaii or The Maldives and indulge in a new environment, but it’s not a necessity. A day at your local co-working space, surrounded by likeminded individuals, every now and then provides a perfect place for creatives to collide, come together, and flower. Then, of course, there are coffee shops, parks, workshops, and scores more unique and exciting locations that have the ability to keep a creator’s mind whirring, expanding, and developing ideas.
If you’re working in an office, there are simple touches you can incorporate to ensure your brain doesn’t fall asleep at the wheel. If you have the flexibility to perform your job in different locations in an office space, do so. If you’re absolutely tied to your desk, however, change your computer background regularly, rotate photos and other paraphernalia, and talk with your colleagues. Keep moving, however you can, even if you spend most of the day in a single chair.
Finally, if you’re in a space where you can control the sound level, make sure to have a look at our piece on ambient noise to learn how to use this to your advantage.
Creatives need to be in motion to produce. Sure, there are some times when we just want to sit down and work, but rare are they who can make that work for them all the time.
So go out, collide with the world, and keep your creativity on track.