How dedicating time to creativity can help your career

One way to incorporate creativity into your working day is to schedule a time for it

Young entrepreneur working in his start-up office. He is working on his laptop and taking a notes. Shot with Canon EOS 5Ds 50mp. Location is released.
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There’s no doubt that the Covid-19 crisis has pushed many of us to our limits. We have been forced to pivot, change our work structure and think of new avenues of income. With all of the overwhelming events happening around us this year, and living in uncertainty, creativity blocks are the topic of the hour among my entrepreneur friends, with some concerned that they may be struggling to find inspiration for a long time.

When you work in the marketing and communications field like me, or in the creative sector in general, your career depends on creativity and being inspired. In a rapidly evolving sector, we have to always be 10 steps ahead, keep up with trends and come up with ways to continuously adapt to our clients’ changing preferences.

In the past, some of us may have sought inspiration in travel, art classes and museum visits, but these options don’t exist for many of us and may be off limits for a while. I, for one, found myself facing a creativity block during the first couple of months of the crisis. Aside from being overwhelmed with emotions, I would sit in front of my computer screen with a blank mind for hours, and creativity felt like an impossible quest.

I then realised that if I didn’t find a new way to incorporate creativity into my work day, I would harm my business. So, I had to schedule it in. Yes, just like I scheduled my meetings, I incorporated creative sessions into my work day and everything has been better on the creative front since.

So how did I do that? When planning my work day, I made sure to take creativity breaks in the same way as I would take time out for lunch or check emails. I have a time slot during the middle of my work day just to allow my brain to wander off or daydream. You don’t need a specific place to do that. You could close your eyes at your desk, or perhaps lay down or doodle in your notebook. Scheduling time for daydreaming not only minimised my procrastination, but made me more focused on the tasks I had in hand, and helped me to seek inspiration in my dedicated break.

I also scheduled in time to move around every hour as sitting at your desk for long hours doesn’t help much with creativity. Often, you need to literally shake the creative block off. What I do is walk for 10 minutes every hour during my work hours. It helps to clear my mind and I often think better about creativity-related work tasks when I’m walking. It’s also a great way to stay fit.

Another thing that inspired my creativity and created a special mood at the office was listening to different types of music, from jazz to old classics. Having music play in the background can help to get you in the creative mood. Different music could help influence different work tasks. If I am working on a creative project that involves writing, then I would have piano or jazz music playing in the background. If I need to finish some tasks quickly, then pop music does the trick for me.

Speaking of moods, fixing your space up can also help to boost creativity. In my case, I placed my work desk closer to the window as I love to work in bright areas.

Do something different every day. This is what constantly inspires me. Although we are limited with options, especially when we are staying indoors, there are ways to do that. It doesn’t have to eat up your schedule, either. You could try reading news from different outlets, try a new form of art, learn a small skill, or a new word every day. The more things I tried, the more inspired I became.

We may not have control over this uncertain period, but we can make room for disciplined creativity to remain inspired and not jeopardise our career.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati journalist and entrepreneur, who manages her marketing and communications company in Abu Dhabi