This post is by Ethel V. Sanchez, Regional Planning Manager at Lowe and Partners Worldwide.
Small (often taken for granted) tricks to help build a fertile creative environment.
To keep our creative buddies' brains blazing, we all know the deal.
- Feed them well
- Brief in pictures
- Let them play with the product. Let them play, period
- Let them stare
Allow those endearingly peculiar ways and the clutter of one-year-old job order sheets, fast food napkins, soggy unfinished chips, comic books, robots and devil horns from last year's Halloween.
We just let them be.
Inspired by recent readings on the psychology of the creative mind, here are some tricks that I suggest we add to the above list – small and simple antidotes to the creativity-busting twists and turns of everyday agency ride, which could, in some ways, effect the difference between bland and rich creative output.
1. Cookie Jars
Not just for those random hunger pangs, but for the inevitable re-briefs or round 2s. This is one scenario we all dread and try to avoid, but for varying reasons right or wrong, it does happen. Fatigue and the forced recalibration of creative focus deplete glucose levels in the blood, making it harder for the brain to produce a second round of ideas of the same caliber as the first. Besides ample time to rest and reboot, sugar in cookies can help. Replenishing glucose levels in the blood helps maintain quality of thought even as a tired creative mind goes back to the drawing board.
So yes, it does help to keep those sweet power-ups for second wind within arm's reach.
2. Emblems of Success
Creatives could very well benefit from physical reminders of their achievements – right on their desks. These could be anything from fancy badges, certificates, or special shot glass souvenirs to mark every pitch win.
These objects fuel the creative mind in 2 ways.
First, they help anchor positive feelings generated by past successes so that it is easy to retrieve them back for inspiration and a healthy dose of pressure when luck, drive, and creative juices run dry.
Then, there's the priming effect. Psychologists have repeatedly proven that whatever the mind gets exposed to affects all succeeding thoughts and even behavior. Adorning the immediate environment with reminders of great work primes creative minds to hit great every time.
So in addition to those shiny Lions at the office lobby, it does help to mark every piece of great work big and small; and to keep the physical reminders near and always within sight.
3. Blind Ideation
Competition and the drive to make a good impression can be healthy, but not as much during creative ideation. These motivations lead to anxiety that takes mental energies away from the hunt and consequently compromises quality of creative thinking.
To set creative minds up to catch the best ideas, it may help to get rid of these extraneous anxieties. A process like ideas being presented in a uniform manner with no names on them like ballots in a box could help Creatives focus on acing the task, rather than expecting the possible feedback.
4. Walk with Pay
"There's something about the regular roll and rhythm of walking that frees the mind and sparkscreative connections, so it's not surprising many writers have used walking to stimulate creativity."
(Graham Barker of Psychologies Magazine)
While the tip may seem trivial, there are many reasons why walks could be very beneficial besides catching creative inspiration from the airy outdoors.
"When we take time off from working on a problem, we change what we're doing and our context, and that can activate different areas of the brain. If the answer wasn't in the part of the brain we were using, it might be in another."
(K. Sawyer in an interview with F. Russo, The Hidden Secrets of the Creative Mind, Time Magazine)
I think Creatives should not just be allowed, but encouraged to take time off and spend work hours outside their cubes, walking aimlessly.
5. Sacred Holidays
Keeping holidays sacred is everyone's wish and right, and guess what? Respecting it could actually be a win-win scenario.
On top of all the creative stimulation that taking a break could bring, studies show that the anticipation of a future experience brings so much more happiness than the experience itself (a function of the dominant pre-frontal lobe of the brain that specializes in looking forward to the future). This higher level of happiness born out of anticipation is a recipe for excellent intuition and creative output.
So let's stop being clingy. There is actually so much to gain if we let our creative buddies lock and look forward to those holiday getaways.
Smitten by the bittersweet journey to great work is what we, advertising practitioners, all are and this is the reason why we choose to stay in this business.
Let's not give up on finding every little trick to pull those golden eggs out.
- Thinking Fast and Slow, D. Kahneman
- Stumbling on Happiness, D. Gilbert