But recently it struck me that I'm not so much a "knowledge worker" as I am a "creativity worker". What I do everyday isn't so much about what I know - it's about what I do with what I know - and what I don't know and finding the answers. What questions do I have? What ideas do I have? What instincts? What problems? What could be done better? What experiments might I try? And then talking with fellow "creativity workers" to get the idea soup boiling before we decide on something new to try. Then we go off and try it and analyze, measure, and revise along the way, over and over.
To be a successful creativity worker I must do things well, on time, and as committed. This is all fine and good, but it's not good enough if I don't come up with new things to do and new ways to do old things. So creativity is one of my greatest assets. But I often find myself jammed up with tasks and trivia - lines and lines of email, hours of meetings, at the end of which my brain is mush and my creativity drained.
My greatest challenge is to protect, nurture and harness my creativity. How? It's still a struggle and I'm learning, but these are my ideas:
- Set aside creative time during the week. Shake things up during that time - don't do things the usual way. Don't check email, turn off instant messaging. Listen to music that gets you psyched (this works for me!). Sit down with a notepad or whiteboard and markers and make drawings or diagrams or word maps. Or make collages and let images speak.
- Reserve creative time with fellow creativity workers to dream things up or tackle problems from a fresh angle.
- Take care of yourself, old school style: proper rest, nutrition and exercise. The creative self operates best when it has energy reserves to draw on.
- Creativity by its nature is slippery and unpredictable - it's not on tap 24-7. So go with the flow - when creativity strikes, drop everything if possible and follow its lead.
- Get to know your creative self. Explore what makes you tick. Is there a time of day or week when you are most in touch with it? Do you come up with your best ideas by yourself or in a group? Experiment with creativity tools like mind-mapping or free association and find out which ones you really like.