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Creativity At Work: 6 Essential Tips for Busy Adults

woman holding creativity lightbulb and working on laptop

“There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns.” – Edward de Bono

Creativity is possibly the most valuable asset in the workplace, in every industry. Creativity leads to innovation, which leads to growth. In the IT world, we practice this every day from communicating with clients and trouble-shooting technical issues to designing new systems/operations and strategizing the optimal managed services plan for small businesses.

For busy adults, it’s easy to skip out on a workout, and it’s no different for exercises that increase your productivity. A simple search will produce hundreds of ways to improve creative thinking, but “hanging out with poets” and “drinking a little too much coffee” is far less efficient (and less convenient) than establishing the mindset and practice habit for yourself.

Short on time and money? No worries–you can do this with minimal resources. Check out our tips below!

Exercise the Creative Muscle Regularly


We can’t expect ourselves to wake up every day exploding with ideas, and a true creator knows one won’t find consistent success ‘waiting for inspiration to strike’. For some, it’s writing for 10 minutes (Pat Pattison) or 3 pages every morning (Julia Cameron) or setting aside 20 minutes a day to draw, paint, sculpt, etc. Perhaps it’s a scene of improv, dancing or skating to music, imagining a sports play or designing a tool—maybe it’s chess. We each have learning styles that are stronger for us than others, so it makes sense that our ‘creative exercise’ would coordinate with those. The key is keeping that creative machine well-oiled and ready for peak performance when a task arises.

Utilize Free Tools When Time Is Short (or anytime!)


24 hours seems like a lot of time, but even 10 minutes a day can be a challenging habit to create. And sometimes we need a little more stimulating than a writing ‘brain dump’ to get the wheels turning. Luckily, there are numerous high-quality and inexpensive (even free) apps and tools available for us to help keep our creative muscles working. Depending on your device and preference, you may find that some work better for you than others, but these are a few we like:

1) Brainstormer – Spin the wheel, and break through the creative block! Apple ($1.99) or GooglePlay ($.99)

2) Brainsparker (free) – Flip a card and go! Apple and Android

3) Writing Challenge – We challenge you to a 5-minute daily free-write! Apple ($1.99) and Android ($1.49)

Embrace Vulnerability


“An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” – Ewin Land

Some imagine their creative selves as the ‘inner child’ or ‘muse’.  Part of creative practice is allowing the mind to wander, without editing or criticism, and without fear of failure. The muse can take over, and you can be there for the ride. Sometimes the ideas are silly and laughable, other times a little dark or melancholy, and then some days, it’s one stroke of pure genius after the next. Embracing vulnerability in the process means you get to experience the surprise of what you create. Creative practice is not about perfection, worrying about what you created last time or how good this one will be. It’s not about the ‘thinking’–it is the ‘doing’. Enjoy the moment!

Shift Gears

“If you want creative workers, give them enough time to play.” – John Cleese

You’ll never see the street sign or landmark you missed if you keep driving by it at top speed. Likewise, sometimes when you are too focused on the missing piece of the puzzle and have nearly emptied your tank, that energy can block it from appearing. Shifting to a lower gear can lift the tension that often accompanies this state, allowing our creative minds to be free to put the pieces together. We need to have a certain level of trust in our ourselves—in our experience, knowledge, and abilities—in order to step back and “let the answer reveal itself to us”, as opposed to chasing it down.

Limitations Breed Creativity


Now a familiar paraphrase of Orson Welles’ famous quote, this is a counterintuitive but highly effective approach to fostering the best creative work. There are many ways to place restrictions on your creative practice. On of the simplest and most effective is to change the perspective, aka “flip the script”. Other easy ways include

  • putting a time limit on your brainstorming, writing, or trouble-shooting session
  • limiting the resources of your exercise (2 colors, 5 notes, certain objects, 5 players to work with, etc.) or
  • setting rules that specifically fit your creative exercise, i.e. ‘can’t do this or that’

This article highlights some interesting stories related to this topic.

Change the Scenery


Sometimes it’s not so simple to change the perspective– we need to change the scenery. Besides the understanding that 65% of us are visual learners (according to Social Science Research Network), things take on different meanings when placed in different environments. Of course, taking a walk outside in nature, or a short drive on your work break, can awaken all the senses, and really help stimulate creative practice. However, you may not have that kind of time or freedom at work. Watching a destination visual on YouTube, flipping through a coffee table book or magazine, staring at a painting that inspires you, or even just closing your eyes, sipping a cup of coffee, and listening to a certain kind of music can breathe new life—and sometimes great clarity—into whatever you are working on.

We hope these tips lead to productive habits and make your daily work more rewarding, and that they help you see things a bit differently throughout the day. 

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.” – Steve Jobs


Contact NTI

Now Technologies, Inc. (NTI) is a certified small business enterprise and full-scope managed service provider in the MD/DC/VA area. We help small businesses protect their assets, increase productivity, and improve web presence. Let us know if you want to chat about your IT or Web Service needs; email

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