The Art of Cultivating Creativity in a COVID-19 Crisis
May 6, 2020
You’re at work. It’s an insanely busy day. It’s like everyone you come in contact with at the office needs something from you today.
You find yourself doing tasks that are 100% out of your professional scope of work. Strangely, you’re cooking for your colleagues, cleaning up after them, teaching them new skills, brokering meaningless arguments, telling them one too many times to keep it down. After all, not everyone can be on a Zoom conference at the same time.
These colleagues are high-maintenance.
You’re more stressed than usual too. Not just about your client obligations, but about outside health and environmental factors that you simply can’t control. You can’t go to the water cooler without wearing a mask, wiping it down and sanitizing your cup.
Then, someone rings the doorbell – I mean, stops by your building unexpectedly – and you have to come to terms with the fact that you aren’t ready for a meeting. You’re not armed with the tools you need to succeed. But you’re gonna have it anyway.
Because that someone at the door is the Amazon guy, your colleagues are your kids, you don’t even HAVE a water cooler, everything’s a mess and this place is going to hell in a handbasket.
This is no imaginary tale, ladies and gentleman. This is your life. And you work from home during the COVID-19 crisis.
In all seriousness, practicing self-care is critical during a global pandemic and always. As we Communicators take on a vast and varying number of roles – in parenting, teaching and professional capacities – we need to remain both sane and creative for our clients and ourselves.
Through a FINN Partners collaboration with Dr. Jessica Glass Kendorski, licensed psychologist and Behavior Psychology Department Chair at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, we know that there are strategies we can put in place to protect our creativity, productivity and mental health in this uniquely stressful time. Here are eight wonderful ways to do so.
- Create a schedule and stick to it. Habit formation can be a key to success during an inherently uncertain time. Create a routine that works for you: one that includes a consistent amount of nightly sleep, productive work time, play time and down time. Your routine should be one that you like.
- Set boundaries and enforce them. Whether your new colleagues are preschoolers, college kids, parents or roommates, set expectations about how and when you’re available. Try to do the same with your clients. Then, hold yourself and them accountable to those expectations.
- Choose a space that feels creative in your home. Keep going back to that space. Build a creative border that feels free from the responsibility of tasks and is meant only to ideate.
- Beware of “Time Confetti.” When we have competing agendas, multiple inputs and fifteen different tabs open on our computer and in our brain, we feel like we’re accomplishing a lot. But we’re not. On the contrary, we’re actually accomplishing nothing. To guard against this, practice the art of compartmentalizing. Doing one thing at a time – and blocking absolutely everything else out – is often the most effective way to get things done.
- Focus on the Positive. Social psychologist Ron Friedman said, “What we create is a function of the information we consume.” So, when you need to churn out some big, transformative thinking for your clients, skip the negative news. Turn your attention instead to things you love: passions, play, peers and projects. The best ideas come from moments of joy.
- Be Bored. At the end of all the things we have to do, learn and remember, begins our own original thoughts. Try being bored once in a while. Mind wandering is productive.
- Think Like a Kid. If you’re going to be at home with your crew of new colleagues, you might as well tap their innate creativity for the benefit of client work. Bring them to a brainstorm and take their ideas seriously.
- Be Kind to Yourself. It’s no secret that stress and anxiety decreases creativity. We tell ourselves stories of grandeur about who we need to be and what we need to do. What if we tried something brand new? What if we tried simply doing our best? There’s a wild idea.
Empathy is just as important as creativity and productivity right now. So whether you put to practice these tips or others, we owe it to ourselves to take a proactive role in our own self-care – with the understanding that we’ll work hard, love others and do the best we possibly can.