Creativity: It’s not limited to writers and designers. In fact, you can find ways to be creative in almost every job out there. (Yes, even you, the person in the finance department who’s shaking your head right now.)
Though protocol and meetings are often necessary to maintain workflow, finding space to use creative skills can open up new opportunities and keep you from falling into that “work sucks my soul” mentality.
Not to mention, it could land you a promotion. A study by IBM found that: “About 60% of CEOs polled cited creativity as the most important leadership quality, compared with 52% for integrity and 35% for global thinking.”
So, if you’ve been craving more ingenuity in your daily routine, here are a few ways to inject it into any role:
1. Volunteer for Content Creation
Whether there is a formal company newsletter, an internal sports team, or an all-hands-on-deck special event, I bet you can find someone who would love help spreading the word. Designing layouts, brainstorming (re)branding, editing photos, managing coverage, and writing copy is a fun and productive way to contribute in a more creative way. Better yet, searching out opportunities for content creation will often connect you with those organizing a new endeavor within your company.
To get started, chat with your boss, a work mentor, or a colleague who could use a hand for ways to get involved. If the company is small, volunteer to pitch in with the social media presence or spearhead a potential wellness program. The key is to find organizational areas of need that align with skills you have (or are eager to develop). Maybe you love wordplay, so you volunteer to brainstorm clickable email subject lines. Or maybe you have an eye for detail, so you lend an extra hand editing external documents.
Bonus: Delivering quality and consistent value in these areas could grow your value within the company, setting you up for leadership positions or additional creative opportunities.
2. Innovate Solutions for Departmental Workflow
It’s easy to slip into routines to simply keep up with incoming requests or responsibilities. However, when this cycle becomes monotonous or repetitive or seems to usurp as much time as it’s supposed to be freeing up, it’s a sign that you should invent a new and better system. Why not turn your attention to areas in your work (or team) where you can suggest innovations to resolve ongoing challenges?
For example, if you dread the endless chain of emails you receive each day, decide you’re going to search out a better system. For example, look into instant messaging or project management software for your team, try Tim Ferriss’ approach from The Four Hour Work Week, or poll co-workers in your department to see if they’d be up for finding ways to reduce the overall volume of email.
Taking the lead on solving a department problem forces you to think creatively, giving your brain a chance to be inventive (and provide solutions to your team).
3. Learn (and Teach) a New Technical Skill
Almost anyone can benefit from knowing how to maximize the technology at his or her fingertips. But some companies prioritize training more than others.
If your organization isn’t providing the training you would’ve hoped for, volunteer to learn new skills yourself. Let’s say you’re a numbers person and enjoy working with data. Almost everyone knows Excel in the “I can make a spreadsheet” sense, but you might find that a class on extrapolating large amounts of analytics adds a whole new level to your work. With additional skill sets, you can brainstorm new approaches and strategies for your current role.
Or, take it one step further and offer to teach your new skill to others in your team or company. By sharing what you’ve learned, you can solidify your new knowledge and also find new ways to connect to your team. The benefits of instructing others include practicing those public speaking skills, creating an agenda, and becoming a source of knowledge to others, which can beef up both your analytical strategy and interpersonal skills.
4. Create a Vision Board Specifically for Your Workspace
A lack of creativity in your day to day could be a result of something as simple as working in the most boring office of all time. So, take time to re-visualize the physical space where you work. You’d be surprised how a visual board of goals and pictures for how you want to feel, create, and contribute can revitalize your desk (and your attitude).
Include the colors, patterns, numbers, and people that inspire you to think expansively beyond routine tasks. Include representations of your long-term career goals to add extra motivation. The positive energy you build could increase your happiness and effectiveness, bringing you closer to your next goal.
5. Focus on Your Personal Brand
OK, so some companies might not give you any room to execute on any of the options above. (They may even scoff at the idea of a vision board sitting in your cubicle!) If that's the case, it's time to go to Plan B and get creative with your personal brand.
I can’t overstate the importance of personal branding. Creating and conveying a personal brand will make you memorable to colleagues, acquaintances, and (potential) clients and partners.
Instead of mindlessly browsing Facebook and Twitter, think creatively about how you want to use the social media tools. What do you want to say? What do you want people to think when they view your profiles? Coming up with your unique strategy is a great way to engage your mind and build your career.
Even if you’re just starting out in a job or industry, it is never too early to document your progress, experiences, and areas of contribution. The engagement that results from personal and career branding can greatly fulfill your right brain and also build an authentic and prosperous career path.
You can add creativity to any job role with some initiative and an open mind. Exercise the inventive side of your brain by trying one of the tips above!