Does routine really kill creativity? Or is it something else

I look back at my days as a traveling consultant and tend to think that it was the variety of travel Monday to Thursday to various locations that spurred me on. But, then again, I know that if I was staffed too long (e.g. a year) at one client, that became routine and non-motivating.  Then I thought, maybe it was working from the corporate office one day, a few days of travel, and one day working from home provided the stimuli I needed. But, I now realize that I find no lack of creativity working in the same office 5 days a week – with an occasional trip to the suburbs or a day at home. Why hasn’t this daily routine crushed my spirit?

My new theory is that it’s not the routine of the day or the location, it’s how we treat the activities.

Part of the success of one of my consulting gigs was to change the way we shared information with our team and our client. We used a team meeting to not only bring our colleagues up to speed on our latest research and designs, but as a dry run of the presentation we were giving to the client the next day. Our fellow team mates not only learned about our work, but they were able to contribute their knowledge about the client and help us craft our messages. It was a very collaborative format and everyone found it beneficial.

Given that, I wonder – do you run a weekly status meeting?  Have you thought about changing up the format to increase particiaption and effectiveness?  I would suggest not to make it just you droning on for an hour. Get the team engaged. Get different team members to own and drive the agenda. Encourage fun activities to get people doing something different than just sitting in a conference room. Some articles might suggest you change the time of day you do an activity, or even the location. That might be more disruptive than helpful.

I think the idea is still to get the work done, but be more creative in how you do it. Recently, I have tended to pick a theme for my days. Some, I know will be heavily engaged with a variety of teams from our core team supporting sears.com and kmart.com to those work with specific business units like Auto or Softlines. I try not to work on the style guide or on research efforts those days so I can be fully focused on what the teams’ need. Other days are all aobut style guide and I find that the singular topic for the day helps me knock out a lot more.

I would be interested in hearing how you stay motivated and what creative techniques you use.

coffee with note and pen  on wood background

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