Many of us think being busy at work is a badge of honour and shows our contribution and worth. Well, ok, a lot of what we do is related to keeping things moving, playing our part in a system, which others often rely on us to do before they can then complete their task and the whole thing moves forward. This is all ‘busy work’. Time related stuff where the more we do the more productive our output.
But then there is other work which is more creative, strategic, has a bigger impact on the business and consequently is more challenging, offers more opportunities to learn and is likely to have a bigger effect on our career progression and personal satisfaction. This work can make a really big difference to the success and growth of the business and requires lateral thinking to solve problems or seize opportunities. The output from this type of work is not necessarily equal to the effort put in because it is creative and non-linear.
Because we like to feel busy (as we equate this with productivity), we often do not like to or are put off by ‘non-linear’ work, meaning we don’t find time for it. Consequently, we find it hard to be both productive and creative.
So here are 3 simple routines/practices that will help:
1. Recognise that your business life should have 2 separate work streams. The everyday ‘getting stuff done’ work stream and the ‘ strategic, creative and non-linear’ work stream. This simple recognition will help you to begin to find time for both.
2. Set aside at least 3 hours a week, preferably more, where you slow down, log off and disconnect from distractions. Use this time to immerse your brain in your strategic work stream and try to think laterally about what you are trying to achieve. This is often an ‘on-switch’ for creativity.
3. Seek out peers or trusted colleagues/managers and make time on a regular basis to brainstorm around your/their strategic work streams. This will stimulate lateral, non-linear thinking for all by introducing fresh perspectives and different way of thinking. This may well be your most productive and energising time spent on work and is a great way of learning and establishing/strengthening business relationships and networks.
At eCO2 Greetings, our core product is e Christmas cards for business and our sales period is concentrated around the Holiday season. Consequently, we spend much of the year in creative/strategic mode, working collaboratively, sharing and developing our expertise to improve our customer’s experience, making processes more efficient and optimising the website. During the Holiday season however, we are in full-on ‘get things done’ mode where high productivity is very much the order of the day.
The most challenging part of applying these simple ideas is sticking to the changes to your routine that they may require. The temptation will be to spend all your time on the ‘getting stuff done’ work stream. It may take a while for the new routine to become familiar to you, but it will be worth it.