I’m a big, big fan of the idea that you have to make some time in your life to just stop and think. Not only is this important in order to maintain your sanity, but it also allows you to be more effective, as well as more creative in every aspect of your life. Here’s how I put this in action at work:
Friday is my day to reduce the pace, reconnect with others and re-charge my creativity. Personally, I need to slow down in order to focus effectively. For instance, if I have something that I know I need to think about, concentrate on – an important document that I have to produce that requires a lot of thought, for example – I just can’t do it in 15-minute increments in-between meetings. I need some uninterrupted time to sit down and think about it.
So as much as I can, I don’t book meetings on Fridays, and encourage my team to do the same. During the rest of the week, I’m running from one meeting to another and I’m always pressed for time. Fridays allow me to catch up on things that I need to think through. The result is that I do much less multi-tasking on Fridays, by design. And on the relationship side of things, my team knows that I’m available on Fridays and that they can easily pick up the phone or drop in for an informal chat – not necessarily about work.
In the same spirit, I usually don’t do email on weekends. I’ve found that the best way to trigger my creativity is through a combination of reading and downtime. For me, having some quality down time on weekends is important, because it allows me to put my brain on neutral. Interestingly, it’s often when I’m not thinking about work that I get my best ideas… for work! And of course, disconnecting for real makes me much more effective when I come back to the office after a weekend, or a holiday.
As a lot of people already know, I’m also a bit of a fitness nut and get a great workout three time a week at the dojo. I can be completely exhausted from work at the beginning of a workout, but then feel totally refreshed by the end of it. Exercise makes my ideas clearer and I’ve had some of my best ideas driving home after a hard workout.
We bring richer people to work every day if we allow ourselves to have meaningful pursuits outside of work. Whether you are into basket weaving, martial arts, or reading – whatever you are into during your downtime makes you the richer person that you bring to work every day.
To close off, here are some simple steps that you can take to increase both your effectiveness and your creativity at work and beyond:
– Allow yourself to enjoy some quality downtime.
– Use that downtime to expose yourself to new things, new ideas.
– Allow those unformed ideas to mix, match and ferment.
– Get enough rest.
– Throw in a bit of exercise to get the energy flowing.
And voilà – watch in amazement as you become more effective and creative in every aspect of your life!