Society is based on a 9-to-5 rigor I’ve never quite mastered. While the work day seems to come alive over morning coffee, boardroom meetings and teams of problem solvers gathering to solve the next big challenge, I’m still dusting away the cobwebs of sleep deprivation from a late night of writing.
Why can’t my muse ever pay me a visit during the day? Why does she always find me long after most people have gone to bed?
I’ve never been very good at keeping to a rigorous schedule. In fact, the thought of planning and making commitments for anything more than 15 minutes into the future puts me in an all-out panic.
And while I love working in marketing (my day job!), clocking in and clocking out of the corporate rat race doesn’t exactly provide the best inspiration. So how do you find inspiration in a world of never-ending meetings, endless process and uninspiring challenges?
If you’re a writer trapped in the wheels of a 9-5 rut, where creativity is sacrificed on the altar of climbing the corporate ladder, don’t despair. There’s a way to tap into that same inspiration you find late at night and bring it into your day job.
Take a break
Learn to take a break in-between a long stretch of working hours. Block time on your calendar so you won’t be over scheduled. Go for a walk, stand up and stretch, or just spend some time in quiet solitude staring at the walls. This will help your brain relax and stimulate your creativity.
If you’re a high-performing or high-functioning individual, it’s often hard to unplug your brain from the day-to-day challenges and problems you’re solving. This is why your best creativity comes at night when there is less stimulation. Taking a break from your work can help stir your creative juices and make you more effective at workplace problem solving as well.
Say ‘no’ to meetings
Is your 9-5 day clogged with meeting after meeting? You’re not alone. In fact, corporate America is drowning in meetings. Most of them are pointless, attended by too many and very little is accomplished. In fact, the Rule of 7 states that any more than seven people in a meeting and you limit the effectiveness of what you can accomplish.
Why then, does corporate America insist on a day packed full of dreadful, uninspired meetings? While meetings have come to symbolize productivity, the onslaught and glut of meetings during the day can feel overwhelming and be anything but productive. And when you’re overwhelmed with a to-do list a mile long, you aren’t exactly at your most creative.
While it doesn’t appear that corporate America will be jumping off the meeting wagon just yet, you can limit the number of meetings you attend. Review the agenda. If your attendance isn’t critical to the agenda or needed for decision making, decline the meeting invite. Similarly, if a quick one-on-one (or email!) will resolve the issue, see if you can propose that instead. Be judicious in the number of standing meetings you accept. These can quickly fill up your calendar and after awhile, these meetings become so routine they lose what little effectiveness they may have once had. Just say no.
Freeing up your time during the day will help give you the space you need to add some creativity to your work day.
Ask for flexible working hours
Many companies are now offering flexible work hours or work-life blend options. While many of us strive for a work-life balance, creatives should strive more for a work-life blend. With technology so pervasive these days, it’s easier than ever to bring work home, take it on vacation, or invite it into our private time. Rather than trying to carve out home time vs. office time, strive to perform your more creative work when you are most creative. Use the other time slots to fill more mundane or routine tasks.
While this will take some getting used to (after all, we’ve been conditioned to seek a balance of work hours vs personal hours), the net result is that you will be able to take advantage of creative spurts as they come; whether it’s for work or your writing activities.
Have a sanctuary for creativity
Whether it’s a little corner at the coffee shop near your office, or a view of the river so serene and blue, you need space to bring your creative muse to life. Get a sanctuary where you only go to tap into your creativity. Once your mind associates going there with being creative, you will find you are more likely to tap into that creativity on a regular basis.
There you have it. My tried-and-true tips for carving out more creative space in a busy 9-to-5 world that seems to favor left brains over right.
Now that you have some ideas, get out of your rut, take the bull by the horns, and write. What will your creative muse inspire you to do today? Drop me a line in the comments below. I’d love to hear what works for you.