Do you remember when you first started in your role? Do you remember how excited and creative you were? You were full of ideas plus you had the gumption to make it happen. Like many situations in life we settle into a routine. We create rules to ensure that the routine is protected and we begin to operate on auto pilot. This is often the beginning of what is commonly known as ‘stuck in a rut’. Like the old horse and cart that is travelling down the deep ridges in the dirt track, we tend to travel down the same old path. This is because there is too much risk of upsetting the cart by trying to manoeuvre our wheels out of them.
Luckily for us there are things that we can do to shake ourselves out of this apathy and re-kindle that excitement and creativity. In this article we share techniques and activities that we have picked up on our own journeys. Find one or more that you like the look or sound of, commit to it and watch the results.
Take Yourself Out Of Your Normal Environment
There are many possibilities for doing this. Book an appointment with yourself and go somewhere, anywhere different to spend some time thinking and reflecting. Most people are aware that some of the greatest thinkers and inventors of our time gained their inspiration from daydreaming or unexpected situations. Newton lying under an apple tree discovering gravity or Archimedes in his bathtub and his eureka moment. Getting way from normal work distractions and being able to think of just one thing often helps inspiration and creativity.
Spend Some Time Doing A Simple Activity
Recent research as seen on the BBC2 programme Horizons about ‘The Creative Brain’ actually confirmed that sometimes doing a simple activity which does not take too much brain power is better than doing nothing at all. Even doing a simple household task after a busy week at work can create ‘light bulb’ moments of inspiration! Combining doing a simple task in a different environment is even more powerful as well as being good for stress. Going for a walk in a place you have never been combines both ideas above.
Change The Sequence Of A Routine Task
During some of our sales courses for field based sales executives we suggest that they change their normal routes when visiting customers. Just by driving along a well worn circular route in the reverse direction opens their eyes to new possibilities. They notice things they had not noticed before. It also helps to break the ‘autopilot’ state in which you actually fail to remember the drive at all!
In the Horizons programme mentioned above, a scientist testing creativity asked a person who normally made a sandwich in a particular way to make it differently. This helped the person be more creative in their thinking. Think of any routine that you have already and then deliberately change the sequence, even if this means driving to work along a different route. See what you notice or experience.
Actively Look For Different Experiences
Many entrepreneurs that we work with are outgoing, adventurous types. Some are out and out adrenalin junkies, whilst others revel in the thrill of taking on a new challenge. This new experience can be inside or outside work. Doing something new in your life outside of work helps on so many levels. It can re-kindle relationships if you do something with those that are close to you. Or it can just prove that there is more to life than looking after your house or watching television.
Doing something different to do with your work often does inspire other ideas. Have you ever watched Alex Polizzi in ‘The Fixer’ a programme about helping failing small businesses? One of the many problems she has to deal with is caused by people being stuck doing something in a particular way and not wanting to change. She usually arranges for them to visit either a similar business that is succeeding and even a business that is different that can be used to demonstrate a point. These visits open their minds to different possibilities. On your own or with your team make a visit to one of the many businesses that let people visit them to see how they work. This can range from a tour around the chocolate factory at Cadbury’s in Bourneville to visiting an old fashioned flour mill. Think about what you observed and how this might relate to your own way of doing things. What challenges did they have to overcome?
People who join our open courses say that meeting other people from different businesses helps them to think of new ways of doing things.
Help Your Team To Work Differently
Again there can be so many benefits of doing this. One manager we were working with on a Management Development Programme in Poland told us how she regularly swapped people around in her team. Although her prime aim was ensure her team was multi-skilled and that she had enough cover for holidays or if people left, the added bonus was that people felt reenergised. They did not get bored as they knew there would be changes coming up soon.
Taking your team out for breakfast and having a team meeting before work starts, will surprise everyone. Again it breaks the routine, it encourages teamwork plus it can also be fun. Oh, and it is another way to recognise their efforts! I think we call that a WIN-WIN-WIN!
So, the message here is change something, ANYTHING. Just be brave and do something different. If it helps, start with something easy like the sequence of events in your house before you leave for work and then progress from there. If you like, make it a game for yourself. If you need help shaking yourself out of your apathy, they why not work with one of our experienced coaches. Not only will they help you pull yourself out of the rut, they will share what other people have done too. We look forward to helping you. Go on, have a different day today!
Senior Management Trainer & Consultant at MTD Training