Having a daily grind in an office can leave you feeling zapped and tired come Friday, meaning all creative energy and will to brainstorm is at a critically low battery power by that time. It can be tough to stay creative while you work a nine to five job, mainly because once you clocked in your 40 hours the last thing you want to do is work some more. But if you feel like being in a constant state of brainstorming and creation is important to you, then you'll make the time to weave it in during your evenings off and your in between time. When we usually think of creativity we think of big gestures like setting up a canvas to paint, jotting down ideas for a new story, or getting our hands dirty with some scrapbook paper or piano keys. But when you don't have time (or energy,) being creative doesn't have to be so complex. You can easily express it in smaller, less exertive ways.
The important thing is that you're trying to shake up routine and keep your creative edge. You can do that by creating physical mood boards that will motivate you just by looking at them, scheduling time to sit down and create ideas, among other things. Below are seven ways to stay creative when you work a nine to five job.
1. Write Down All Your Ideas, No Matter How Small
Buy yourself a little notebook you can carry around everywhere, and write down any and all ideas you have. Whether it's about a project for work, a new direction you can take a hobby, a line of a poem, or a funny observation, write it all down. Business writer Boland Jones from Entrepreneur explained the importance of this, "No thought is too small, and no idea is too 'out there.' Anything can potentially have value to your business. You never know what word or phrase is going to spark the next word or phrase, which could then lead to your next big idea." Writing it all down will help you understand the value of a fleeting idea, and will make you less likely to shoot down sparks of creativity as a waste of time and instead develop them.
2. Schedule Time Where You Just Come Up With Ideas
Before you can get creative, you need an idea. To get the juices flowing and to get you in the habit of constantly brainstorming, ear mark some time per week where you come up with ideas. Carve out a block in your planner where you sit down at a table with a coffee at your elbow, and just run wild with thoughts. Thinking of your next project and laying out the game plan for it will get you excited to stick through with your creative endeavors. Business writer Christina DesMarais from entrepreneur site Inc pointed out, "Julia Cameron, author of popular self-help book The Artist's Way suggests taking 30 minutes each morning to freewrite in a journal. As you do, you'll notice new ideas creeping in." By actively exercising the brainstorming part of your brain, it'll be easier for you to unleash your creativity and come up with some really innovative things.
3. Hang Out With People More Creative Than You
Whether that means befriending a creative on Instagram or Twitter, or going to a local literary reading or popup concert and meeting someone new that could be inspiring, surrounding yourself with people that are more creative than you will make you want to work a little harder. You'll see how they incorporate art and ideas into every aspect of their day, and that type of passion could rub off on you. DesMarais explained, "Engage with people who are different from you. We hang out with people who are like us, and while doing so may be comforting, it's not stretching." Don't surround yourself with familiarity — you need inspiration in order to thrive creatively.
4. Indulge In Things That Are Completely Different Than Your Tastes
While you might know what you like, there's nothing more exciting than looking at something radically different from your tastes, and feeling a new idea creep in. In order to practice your creativity, constantly expose yourself to opposites to get you thinking about new subjects and perspectives. Lifestyle writer Joel Falconer from Lifehack offered, " Expose yourself to new art – books, music, paintings – all the time. If you’re a rocker, listen to funk. If you’re a crime writer, read fantasy. If you’re a productivity writer, read something about slacking off."
Even if you work in an office all day, introducing yourself to wildly varying tastes can get you thinking in a way that your comfort zone wouldn't be able to.
5. Carry Around A Camera
Do you walk to work? Grab a camera or take out your phone and make the most out of your walk to the office. Look at scenery in a different way, notice details you haven't before, try to frame the photos in interesting angles, and get yourself noticing your surroundings in a new light. Falconer suggested, "Carry a camera with you and look for interesting things in your every day scenery. Hadn’t noticed that crack in the path before? Then it’ll do. Set a quota and force yourself to make it."
By letting yourself play with picture taking, you're letting your creativity flex.
6. Create Side Projects
If you feel like your office job is slowly starting to kill your creativity, set up a side project you can get messy with on your time off. Whether it's writing short stories, repurposing vintage clothing, trying to knit yourself a new winter scarf, perfecting a dessert — take up a small project that you can flex your creativity muscles with. Lifestyle writer Whitson Gordon at Lifehack wrote, "'Distracting' yourself with other, smaller projects gets you away from your big project while keeping you productive and creative. When you're done with one of those, you'll come back to your big project with a new mindset and renewed enthusiasm." If you're not satisfied with the work you're doing in the office, create your own projects. Just take an interest and run with it.
7. Surround Yourself With Things That Inspire You
A great way to get in the mood to create is to surround yourself with things that inspire you and make you want to roll up your sleeves and get messy with ideas. Career writer Stephanie Ormston from career development site The Muse, suggested, "If you’re feeling a lull in your creativity, maybe it’s time to get offline and create a physical space for inspiration."
Instead of pinning images or liking Instagram photos, create a physical inspiration wall in your room. Put poetry you love, articles that motivated you, pictures of people you admire, stills from movies that got you going — whatever it is, lay it on thick. The more inspiration you have, the more motivated you'd be to take a hand at the creativity thing yourself.