Traveling for work doesn't have to be a draining experience with back to back meetings. There are lots of opportunities to enhance your creativity. Recently I asked colleagues working in healthcare, fashion, PR and education this question: "How do you spark creativity while traveling for work?" Here are the habits they have cultivated to optimize their creative capacity while traveling for work.
1. Tap Into Your Child's Gaze
"Traveling allows me to decompress and live in the present. While traveling, I follow my own simple rules: 1) Use airplane time to respond to unanswered emails. This allows me to craft creative responses without the distraction of someone simultaneously sending me another email. I'm attuned and write without time restrictions; 2) I use my landscape of where I'm traveling to channel my creativity. I was once trained by a media coach on the art of being present. I use breathing techniques to meditate and remind me to be in the present- this is where I find my spark for creativity; 3) I always remind myself of the feelings of excitement I had when I traveled with my parents (on work trips or vacation). My creativity comes from the naivet I had a child and reminding myself of how exciting it was!"
2. Trigger Writing Time
"My creativity secret is writing. Whether I'm home or on the road, I always find writing surfaces new ideas.
"I have a repeat To-Do item every day to write at least two Pomodoros, that's about an hour minimum. The To-Do reappears every day."
3. Trendspot in the Local Restaurant
"When I'm traveling I try to make sure I hit a trend forward restaurant, so I can observe how a trend is manifesting first-hand. Recently I dined solo at the bar at The Progress in San Francisco. I was able to very casually see who's there, what they're wearing, what they're ordering, what music is playing, what is the service like, what the interior looks, fells and smells like. Restaurants really are a 6th sense experience. It takes a little research beforehand and sometimes a reservation, but it is worth it when I can make my business trips meaningful and inspirational."
4. Embrace Serendipity
"I am most successful as an innovator when I look for inspiration in other worlds that are free from the filters of my company's environment. Having to travel globally provides a natural and serendipitous means to encounter unexpected insights.
"Such immersions are especially important when trying to understand how to design healthcare experiences across cultures."
5. Channel The Local Music Scene
Greg Dennis, Global Product Manager, adidas Originals
"Business trips usually consist of back to back meetings. A long walk or drive listening to local music is a great way to recharge the battery and for getting the creative juices flowing. Listening to a local artist allows me to tap into the energy of the environment. For example when travelling around the Los Angeles area for business I listen to Kendrick Lamar, Nipsey Hussle and Vince Staples to get the vibe of the city. Based on the vibes received I can channel the energy into the project I am currently working on."
6. Practice Curiosity: Chat Up a Stranger
"I talk to the people next to me on planes and trains. I am amazed at the interesting lives people lead. I have met entrepreneurs, farmers, clean room developers, lawyers, musicians. They all have a story to tell. So I channel my inner Terry Gross of Fresh Air and see what I can learn. I find this to be incredibly inspiring to creativity. Last week I sat next to Cornell University senior who is studying 'the psychology of music'. He helped me think about the role of sound in experience design. Now I want to explore what kind of music I might play as participants of my workshops enter and exit a room and how I might use more music to conjure joy, reflection, mindfulness or whatever experience I want them to have."
These tips remind us that taking a second look at what is right in front of you, finding cool surprises in the details and scheduling triggers to prompt your creative practice can be found while on the road for work. Go forward!