Without activities like meeting with colleagues face-to-face or catered lunches and snacks to break up the day, working-from-home can start to become predictable. And while convenient, our homes shelter us from exposure to new and novel experiences.
When you work from home, incorporate these tips to shake up the way you think and stoke creativity in your work.
New Location, New Connections
Kick off your work week by changing up your work environment. Research shows that creative thinking requires making new connections between different regions of the brain. It's when we connect two associations in a new way that we generate novel insights.
To create unique connections in your own work, deliberately expose yourself to a new environment.
If you have the flexibility of leaving the home, get out of the run-of-the-mill coffee shop or shared workspace and work from somewhere entirely new. This could be at a museum cafe or on a university campus.
If you have to stay home, change up your workspace and set up working somewhere new and even unexpected. This could mean working from your kitchen's bar, the patio table, or setting up shop in a closet or laundry room.
When you learn new information through the distractions of a new location, it allows your unconscious mind to process the data in a novel and surprising way. This can lay the groundwork for creative insights and moments of ah-ha.
Noisy Work Leads to Creative Work
When you think about trying to solve a challenging problem at work, you may think that it's best to hunker down in a quiet location and focus on the work at hand. You'd be wrong.
Creativity comes when you are a little distracted from focusing on a task, generating distant associations to allow for out-of-box thinking.
Studies from a Chinese university showed that a moderate level of noise (around 70-80 decibels) facilitated creative thinking. When trying to complete creative tasks, participants working in conditions with a moderate level of background noise performed better.
Even when working from a quiet home, you can emulate this by using tools like Coffivity. The site allows you to select channels of background noise from around the world. From a Texas teahouse to a Brazil bistro, you can leverage background noise right at your desk to stimulate creativity.
Practice Creativity During Lunch
If you work from home, you probably find that lunchtime is pretty mundane and routine. Heat up last night's leftovers or throw together a simple salad that you can finish quickly and get back to work.
Use this scheduled break to begin stretching your creative muscles and create a gourmet meal worthy of eating.
Creativity comes from ideas that change, merge, or transform over time. Exercise your brain to think about ideas differently when you are preparing lunch. Start to think about ways you could change things up like replacing an ingredient or plating the meal with more intention.
Practicing the infusion of creativity into your lunch preparation will teach your brain to transform one idea into another. Through training, you will start to develop these same techniques to creative problem-solving in your work.
When you work from home, creativity requires a more intentional approach. Whether changing up the environment, adding the right ambient noise, or training your brain through activities, there are ways to trigger creative thinking in your work.