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Managing pressure at work: Tricks of tapping into creativity

Are there times in your life when you don't feel creative? If so, you are not alone

Gulf News

Are there times in your life when you don't feel creative? Times when you can't concentrate and write that report? Are there times when you just can't find a solution to a specific problem? If so, you are not alone.

Creativity is there for us some of the time but sadly not all of it. It is important to recognise the times when you tend to be most productive, in order that you can focus your energy for that specific moment.

For me, I am at my most creative as the sun rises in the morning — as long as I have had a good night's sleep and before everyone comes into the office — but for others it can be late at night. First and foremost, know when the best time is for you, as it is different for everyone.

No matter what work we do, we all need to feel motivated. Creativity can come easily to some people but there will be days when even the most creative people find themselves staring at a blank screen.

The frustration that this creative block can cause is immense and if we are stressed, the sense of panic when we cannot express ourselves, is difficult to deal with. Then you have to deal with the stress as well as the lack of creativity, leading to a vicious circle of negative feedback.

Managing boredom

Sometimes, we all have to manage the boredom of routine tasks in our jobs and our everyday lives. Ask any assembly line worker how they manage to cope with the same routine, day after day.

For that environment to be managed efficiently, the team leader might introduce bonuses for targets to be achieved in an effort to alleviate the boredom factor. For me, I leave my boring tasks to a time when I know I don't need much thinking power and can do what is necessary on "automatic pilot".

Creativity is important not only in formulating new ideas but in finding solutions to day to day problems — especially "people problems". Diffusing difficult situations can often be done effectively by thinking "outside the box" but if our brain is tired, seeking new solutions is unlikely to be easy.

So how do we stimulate our creative thinking when we are stressed-out by a heavy workload, difficult deadlines or just a feeling of lethargy? How can we energise ourselves?

You may not have had time to take that much needed holiday but you can find some stimulation by just stopping work and shutting your eyes, to clear your mind for 5-10 minutes.

Here are a few tips:

• Walk to work or leave your car far enough away to ensure that you get some exercise.

• Try to take a proper meal break away from your desk and computer.

• Talk to those around you, which can take you into their world and out of your own.

• Create a "to do" list of things you would love to do in your time off and focus on implementing them one at a time.

• Take time to appreciate the external environment — whether it be a townscape or country view, it will take your mind into a different place.

The essence of stimulating creativity is to observe and appreciate the world outside and around you. You may need to focus on something completely different from what you are doing.

When you get stuck on finding the solution to a problem, walk away from it and try and do something else. The fact that you have taken your brain into another place to concentrate on something new, will hopefully let your brain relax and the chances are that when you come back to your task again, you will feel refreshed and full of energy again.

And the solution that has eluded you for so long may just suddenly spring to mind.

Some ideas come to us when we least expect them, driving in the car, out walking, at the hairdresser [if you are a woman], and to remember them I always keep a pencil and paper to hand or make a note in my mobile phone so that I remember them.

Try it, and let me know how you get on!

The author is a BBC guest-broadcaster and Motivational Speaker. She is CEO of an international stress management and employee wellbeing consultancy based in London. Contact them for proven stress strategies — www.carolespiersgroup.co.uk

Key points

  • Creativity can be elusive and needs to be managed
  • Know when you are most productive
  • Concentrate on something new to help your brain relax
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