One of our programmers, Kim, loves to draw. This makes her desk, which is only about 2 steps from a giant whiteboard, prime territory. It’s a great spot for her to take a break and use a little creativity. It’s also delightful for the rest of us, because we’re often surprised by her creations (take a peek here). We’ve seen bog monsters, Disney mashups, and Super Smash Bros characters. It’s an outlet for Kim – one that’s added vibrancy to our office.
Creative process may seem like a counter-intuitive method for productivity. After all, creativity is often associated with horrible time management and a lack of structure. If you’re aiming for productivity, then facilitating creativity may seem like a step in the exact opposite direction. That’s the really wonderful conundrum: productivity and creativity have to co-exist.
Some businesses may have to emphasize one over the other, but they both have their place at work. Take our office, for example. We’re not just expected to develop websites – we’re expected to make them look pretty. It comes with the territory. So, that means that we have to leave a little room for creativity to flow. That’s why you’ll see a lot of us with headphones in; that’s why you’ll see a few drawings scattered about the office. Some of us even have bookmarked websites or Pinterest boards that we use for quick points of inspiration.
But (and hear me on this one) that doesn’t mean that we waste an entire day waiting for thunderbolts of inspiration. Productivity plays a huge factor in this, too. You can’t fully sacrifice one for the sake of the other. Otherwise, you start missing deadlines because it just wasn’t working creatively. So, we have to find a balance somehow.
Priorities are the key. If you have a very clear sense of what needs to be done and how much time you’ll need to do it, you’ll know where to emphasize productivity over creativity (and vice versa). Our favourite trick? If there’s a project that’s just not working, and the deadline isn’t looming, set it aside for a couple hours. Chances are you’ll have a light bulb moment in the midst of something else. When you give your brain some time to process without the pressure, you can still get other work done without your creative levels suffering.
If that deadline is looming, though? Pour the coffee – it’s crunch time.
Sometimes, you just can’t afford to set the work aside ’til you gain some fresh ideas. Sometimes, the work has to get done now. When you’re closing in on a project’s deadline, it’s time to power through. Don’t worry – your brain will love the extra adrenaline, and chances are that you’ll come up with some great ideas under pressure. Productivity is the main priority in moments like this. If you’re looking to boost your productivity with a little fancy tech, Business Insider made a pretty awesome list of productivity apps. You can check them out here.
It’s a careful balance, but it’s possible to work creatively and productively. Just be realistic about every task’s scope. Practice little habits, like Kim’s whiteboard drawings, that help your creativity without taking too much time. It’s a balancing act, but you’ll learn what works best for you. Happy doodling, fellow working creatives!