December 18, 2006

Laughter IS the Best Medicine...and More Advice for Being Productive

I am ADD. I work for concentrated segments of time, and then I HAVE to get up, wander around, and interact with other people. I have learned that if I am allowed to get up and wander around, I am better able to get things done with a higher quality.

I have also observed that I get more work done when I am occasionally allowed to work elsewhere. I don't know that I could work in a coffee shop all the time, but I would certainly be willing to try!

I believe that the typical, stodgy workplace does not help creativity, productivity, nor does it make for loyal employees.

Best Buy is trying this out. Many places are trying to change their work environment by adding more laughter. Some even suggest that people do less to accomplish more. (I blogged the Slacker article here.)

Here are some things I use to increase my creativity and productivity:

1. Take a break. When my Grandmother and I used to put puzzles together I learned a very valuable lesson...get up and do something else for awhile. It was almost magical! I would get stuck, so I would go do something else for awhile, and when I return the piece of puzzle I was looking for had almost magically appeared on the table. I think the solution to many of our problems and challenges are not solved by us wracking our brains out, but rather by doing something else. I think this is why the best ideas seem to come to people while they are taking a shower, sitting on the toilet, exercising, or any number of other things. They are able to think about more complex problems and find solutions because their brain is on autopilot with the mundane activity in which they are involved. These are also the only relatively isolated and quiet moments of the day.

2. Work on something else. This is similar to number 1 except this is more focused on doing something ELSE. Number 1 is about taking a break, this is about working on something different for awhile.

3. Develop a routine...and make breaking the routine a part of the routine. Discipline helps us become more productive and creative. That sounds likes an oxymoron, but being in the same place, at the same time, and making ourselves do the same things seems to free the mind to be creative and productive. Almost every writer I have ever read extols the concept of regularity. There is something about making yourself "show up" that lets your mind open up. If you make a commitment to write (or whatever) from 9am-Noon, don't get up and leave at 9:15 or 9:20 or even 9:45 if your mind won't let you write anything. Stick it out. It WILL happen.

4. Brainstorms and Mindmaps. Sometimes we need a little extra help. This happens when we brainstorm as a team or use Mindmaps to help us develop an idea or to look at it from a different angle.

5. Ask the Team. If you are fortunate enough to work with a team of people, ask them to help you out. Other people have different backgrounds, personalities, talents, and points-of-view that will help you see things differently. Use them and their opinions to help you develop an idea beyond what you could do alone. See my post on Creative Teams.

6. Challenge yourself and keep learning. To continually challenge yourself and to keep growing are vital to your success and productivity. Use word games, mind teaser, and other "games" to challenge your mind to look at things in different ways. Keep reading (broadly, not just from your area of expertise), and keep learning.

These are somethings that help me, what are somethings you do to increase your productivity and creativity?

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