My job requires me to be creative, and often it requires me to be creative on a short deadline. Coming up with something brilliant off the top of my head isn’t always easy or automatic. Thankfully, I also get a lot of input from clients and a degree of freedom when it comes to the end product and meeting the needs of the client. I recently spoke with a Brand Manager of a local company who told me that he often has months to come up with the specifics of a design, concept or product. My timeline is usually about 7 days, which is crazy. In my design and printing background, we generally go from idea to finished product in about a week. This puts a lot of stress on me to keep it fresh. I spend a lot time looking at other peoples designs, good and bad, either online or in print. I also take a large portion of inspiration from the world around us, things in everyday life that seem mundane but add just the right amount of homegrown flavor to a project. Often I get the best ideas when I am not specifically working on a project and something just hits me. This is basically called unnecessary creativity, or something you aren’t getting paid to do. This is spare time that I get to create whatever I want, from a letterpress postcard to a custom corn hole set. These projects have a way of sparking creativity for projects that I do get paid for, staving off “writers block” so to speak.
Big companies like Google, 3M and HP have taken on this motto even in the workplace, allowing employees to take a portion of their day and focus it on a personal project. Often these projects lead to bigger things like the Post-it notes on your desk or the email client you’re using right now. At my office, I usually use this time to work here on the blog, writing, surfing the web for cool stuff, customizing the widgets of the site, etc… Maybe your employer would be okay with this too if they knew you were going to come up with the next million dollar idea at the company. Give it a try! ~cwall