Whether it is finding new ways to stay inspired or continuously trying to find a better way to work, I’m always interested in learning new ways to be my most creative self – and even more productive, too. To learn from what works for others, I asked 8 creative collaborators about their habits and routines that help them flex their creative muscles. See the methods and habits they use each day to get into a more creative - and productive - state of mind.
John David Back, Lead Engineer at Casamatic
“I try to start every single morning with output of some kind before I take any input. Your mind is fresh off of the longest uninterrupted thinking it gets - your sleep. I don’t look at my phone or my computer until I’ve put actual pen on actual paper and done one of two things: one, written down 10 new ideas: these can be website features or app ideas or home improvement plans or meals to cook. Or, two, I write what I'm feeling/thinking for somewhere around 500 to 750 words. That’s about three pages.
It’s so good to see your ideas and thoughts tangibly on a piece of paper. And writing is just like anything else: practice makes perfect. I’ve become a much better writer simply by brain-dumping for 20 minutes before dawn. Also - drink water before coffee.”
Jessie Deye, Director of Growth & Analytics at Batterii
“I get energy by constantly learning new out-of-the-box creative skills. I know I'll never work as a professional cake decorator, but alas, I'm currently enrolled in a cake decorating course.
Every few months I find a new creative skill to explore, whether it's calligraphy, creative writing, knitting, or leatherworking. Finding new ways to be creative keeps my right brain agile (and ensures I'm never bored)!”
Brad Kirn, Head of Sales at Astronomer & Vice President of Greater Cincinnati Venture Association (GCVA)
"I've recently got into an actual routine… As I've grown (and grown older), I've realize that a routine, especially a good one, is important to progressing through each day with a clear mind.
For the past six months, I've eaten breakfast every day and it's amazing what that does for one, your mind and two, your metabolism. Those are both especially important because I need to keep my thoughts flowing clearly and need my body to feel alive. I've started to keep a checklist of things I need to do that day and I try to make this the night before. It's greatly helped with not only my productivity during the day but my sleep, actually. I think the biggest factor contributing to better sleep is not using my phone in my bedroom…
Shutting down after the workday is something I've recently started to do and I'm happy I started. It's a matter of tying up loose ends before I shut down, turning off all notifications (aside from text and phone calls) and being comfortable with the fact that I've done enough today and need to tend to everything else tomorrow…”
Wendy Doris, Custom Home Designer
“My best days are when I get a workout in right away. I feel like I've already accomplished something. Then [I have] a big breakfast with eggs, veggies, and coffee.
When I sit down to work, I always get small tasks like emails done right away so I'm not thinking about them later on. Then I start looking at inspiring photos, blog posts, Pinterest, whatever is necessary for the job at hand. Once I feel like I'm in a groove, I start designing the client's space but I don't come up for air for about 50 to 55 minutes before I need a break. I am a big fan of the Pomodoro method.”
Andrea Summer VonAllmen, Musician
“Every creative struggles to get their best stuff out into the world. Mountains big and small stand in our way. In my experience, the biggest obstacles fall into these three categories: time management, crushing self-criticism, or creative block (wells run dry). I use these three methods for overcoming creative obstacles:
- I carve out time to practice my craft and I protect that time with my life. Time management is tough and creativity rarely feels like the MOST important thing. I have worked to develop the habit of creating daily - otherwise I can lose momentum.
- I collect inspiration. When your output exceeds your input, you will run dry or burn out. Fueling my creative fire is a necessary part of developing my craft. My best ideas come from being freshly inspired by someone else's work. I try to be communal, collaborative, and a collector of creative inspiration.
- I try to create without criticism. This is a big one. Most creative [people’s] biggest critic is themselves…"
Jaren Glover, Infrastructure Magician at Robinhood
“I usually try to start my morning off slow with a ritual of taking time to exfoliate, properly shave, and moisturize my hair and face. This allows a high quality of grooming and less distractions during the day. While doing the ritual I either listen to music on Tidal or get a business recap from Cheddar.tv. I read two pages from One Minute Bible for students before walking out the door.
Breakfast is critical, so I usually do espresso or a pour over coffee black with no additions. I check Twitter--making sure I am informed. I review my calendar, and move any meetings into groups so I have longer stretches of concentrations. I try to do meetings right before lunch and dinner but not after. One on one meetings are done while walking so I can try to get my 10K steps a day, and this helps de-stress after long periods of work. Also in the morning, I review the tasks in my queue: I prioritize tasks based on new information and make a checklist of things I want to finish that day...”
Andy Sheeks, UX Director at BlackbookHR
“Have a plan: I’ve found that I’m most productive throughout the day when I plan out the major blocks of my schedule in advance. For example, each night I tell myself that I’m going to get up and go to the gym first thing, then go to work, and then reserve some time in the evening for a hobby, creative side project, or recreational activity. Telling myself what I’m going to work on and when means that I’m more likely to make the time that is needed for the things I want to do without any major surprises or interruptions getting in my way.
Take a walk: I think that it’s really important for people to take breaks throughout the day when necessary. It’s probably contrary to what popular workplace culture has taught us. (The employee who sits glued to her chair, banging her head against her desk without every getting up must be the hardest working and most productive, right?) Whenever I’m feeling creatively stuck, uninspired, or mentally drained I make myself get up and do something else – walk around the block, fold some laundry, organize the junk drawer. It’s amazing to me how often the answer to a puzzle will come to you when you’re not even thinking about it…”
Lyden Foust, Co-Founder and Ethnographer at Spatial
“I wake up to some pertinent music, something speaking to my life. Every morning the alarm goes off at 4:30 AM. The first thing I do is drink 32 ounces of water. After breakfast (I always get greens in first thing) I sit down to connect spiritually. I spend about fifteen minutes in the scriptures and then take time to journal out what I am thinking and feeling that day. After that I head out for a swim.
When I get to work I spend time organizing my day. I typically set aside a 4 hour chunk of uninterrupted time where I work on the most important thing I could be doing that day.”
Want to learn more about how others are driving their creative processes and innovation journeys? Download the Pfizer's Innovation Journey white paper to learn how Pfizer has fostered a spirit of innovation and creativity for over 70,000 employees worldwide.