We want to come up with creative ideas, but we’ve been conditioned to think that work happens sitting at our desk. It’s time to get outside and be creative.
When I lived in London, I had a 50-minute commute across town to work. Every day I would squeeze myself onto a small tube train, smushed up against strangers.
One day I realized I could kill two birds with one stone: commute and get some much-needed exercise by making the 90-minute walk to work every morning. What I didn’t realize at the time is I was actually killing three birds with one stone.
I had just started a new project around the same time I began trekking across London. During my walks I began to I would find myself lost in thought about the challenges I was going to face that day at work. But, instead of just stressing out about these challenges, I was daydreaming about solutions. So much so that I was constantly stopping to write down ideas and had to begin leaving earlier so I wasn’t late for my morning meeting.
When the pandemic started, I was happy to no longer have a commute. I thought about how much more I could get done without having to go to and from an office every day.
However, as time went on, I started to realize I wasn’t being as creative as I used to be. I no longer had my morning walks to get my creative juices flowing.
We often associate productivity and work as time spent at our desks, typing at our computers. But we are also meant to be creative, to find new and better ways to do our jobs. This is hard to do sitting in front of a computer just trying to get through a task list.
Studies show that not only do people come up with more creative ideas while walking than while sitting in place. Not only that, but you continue to be creative following your walk, so that time you take to get outside has continuing effects when you’re back at your desk.
The obvious solution to not feeling as creative without my daily commute was to carve out time to get outside for a walk, with my notebook, to try and find new ideas and solutions to daily challenges. However, it was difficult to force myself to take this time because it doesn’t feel like work.
Over time I was able to change my perception around productivity and creativity, I started thinking of my daily creativity walks as a necessary and important part of my job. That I shouldn’t be measuring my work by the number of tasks checked off, or time spent sitting at my desk. Productivity extends well beyond the four corners of your office.
If you are struggling with finding creative ideas, grab your notebook and head outside for a bit. It could be the most productive thing you do all day.