If we are really supposed to think outside the box at our jobs, why do so many of us sit inside of cubicles?
Even if your office has progressive, trendy furnishings (like ours), there are still plenty of times when a change of perspective would help get those creative juices flowing. Sometimes it’s all about the little things in your day-to-day routine.
Truth of the matter is, some managers and bosses do not even want out-of-the-box thinkers, no matter what they say to the contrary. Some positions value efficiency and dependability, and those are certainly the traits that propelled an industrial revolution-inspired economy through years of success.
But times have changed. The world is smaller—or at least people are more connected. The traditional concept of a “job” has forever changed and only those who are adaptable and think on their feet will be prepared to meet the “needs of tomorrow” head on (whatever that means).
So how can I start thinking outside the box in my workplace?
You may work at a relatively traditional place in what feels like a “normal” job, but there are still plenty of opportunities to sprinkle some interest and excitement into your day. Changing up your routine and approaching things a bit differently, even if in small ways, can make a big difference in the type of ideas you generate.
Here are some tips you can start today:
- Make small changes to your routine: Every time you repeat a daily task, you are strengthening the synaptic pathways in your brain that have molded themselves around that task. If you park in the same spot, take breaks at the same times, and have the same conversations with the same people, then you are going to think the same thoughts. It may sound trivial, but I like to do little things like park in different areas of the parking lot in the morning and move to different workspaces within our office for different parts of the day. These small variations in my routine pull me ever so slightly out of my comfort zone—and it is through the smallest of actions that big changes begin to happen.
- Fill your mind with (good) media: Turn off the Thursday night TV shows and pick up a book. Forget about the business books that make big promises about success, find a novel or piece of literature that resonates with you and fill your mind with it while you relax. If you’re able to listen to music while working, try picking a different genre or maybe put on some classical music. If you fill your mind with stimulating materials, you never know what great stuff will pop out later.
- Schedule in time for thinking: We are led to believe that being productive means taking action and “doing things” as much as possible, but sometimes that is simply not the case. Time spent in a quiet contemplation will lead to more ideas and possibly lead to the solution you were looking for.
- Unplug During the Work Day: If it is possible for you to cut off the internet connection or e-mail for any part of the day, then do so. The ability to focus your attention on a specific task without constant distraction will lead to better work and clearer thinking.
- Build a Better Relationship With Your Boss: Go out of your way to connect with your boss whenever possible. I don’t mean sucking up, I mean really try and build rapport. If you have a positive relationship with your boss, you will be much more comfortable and likely to generate better ideas and suggestions.
There are plenty of times when efficiency and output require us to put our heads to the ground at work, but making a few small changes and giving ourselves time to think with a clear head can lead to more creativity and better results in the long run.
This infographic has more great thoughts to consider, taken from Visual.ly.
In the end, it’s all about being creative
We tend to think of creativity as something that only belongs to certain people: artists, designers, poets. But anyone reading an article about “thinking outside the box at work” knows the truth—creativity happens everywhere.
Even as a corporate training company, we have to be creative all the time. Thinking outside the box for us means changing up the boring eLearning everyone seems to expect, and delivering something truly engaging.
Use the tips presented above to channel your creative side. Whether you’re in training, accounting, life science, or anything else; you’ll see that creativity pay off.