Every night on my drive home from work, I make a mental list of things to do. Feed the dogs, make dinner, take a shower, make lunch for tomorrow. Once my work clothes are off and my pajamas on, I shoot through my nightly chores at a lightning pace. The quicker I complete my housework, the more time I have to spend coloring.
Yes, you read that right — coloring.
I, like many others, have jumped with both feet into the adult coloring craze.
When I was a teenager, I would spend hours at my kitchen table with watercolors and paper, working on some new masterpiece. Unfortunately, as I grew older, work got in the way. I found that art isn’t something you can just stop for months and then start up again without missing a beat. The longer I spent away from the drawing board, the further my ability to create from scratch deteriorated.
As I sit here writing this, I am almost certain that I may have lost it forever. Nonetheless, I still find joy in other types of creativity — namely frittering away the hours with my coloring book, filling in the intricate mandalas with bold, bright hues.
I make it a point to tell anyone who will listen to take time out of their busy schedules to do something soothing and creative each day like I do. Why? Because it makes me better at my job.
Creativity Impacts Your Work Life
Recent research from San Francisco State University found that creative activities (knitting, painting, photography, gardening, etc) can have a positive influence on work performance.
“Creative pursuits away from work seem to have a direct effect on factors such as creative problem solving and helping others while on the job,” says Kevin Eschleman, an assistant professor of psychology.
The findings showed that those who spent time on a creative hobby performed between 15 to 30 percent better at work than those who did not. There are a multitude of reasons why this might be the case.
- Taking time to enjoy a favorite creative pursuit can help a person recharge before heading back to work.
- Creative activities serve as a means to learn more about individual strengths and weaknesses, knowledge that can be used professionally.
- Those who engage in a hobby often report greater feelings of mastery and control.
- Creative hobbies relieve stress — and less stress leads to higher productivity.
Furthermore, creativity often spawns insight. Some of your best business ideas might pop up when you're in a totally different frame of mind while exercising your creative muscles.
Make More Time to Be Creative
According to a study from Adobe, 75% of Americans value their own creativity in resolving personal and professional problems — but only 25% feel they live up to their creative potential. If you count yourself among the second group, start making changes in your everyday life to fit in more time to be creative.
Start by reserving a space for being creative. Since boundaries are both physical and psychological, under no circumstances should you bring work into this space — that would defeat the stress relieving purposes of creativity entirely.
“If you work at work, and work at home, you may find yourself feeling like you have no personal time, which will increase your stress load and decrease your job satisfaction.” — Paralegaledu.org
By setting aside an actual physical space for creativity, we train ourselves to know when it is time to work and when it isn’t. Having a dedicated space is helpful for shutting out distractions as well. Shut doors, turn off phones, let your friends and family know that you don’t want to be disturbed.
Map out your creative process, by determining what time of day, or in what setting, you are most creative. If you’re inundated with ideas during your morning shower, a good time to set aside time for being creative would be right after it.
Your assignment this week is to schedule a block of time devoted entirely to being creative. Whether it’s writing, drawing, or refinishing furniture — the impact it can have on your work life might surprise you.
Liz Greene hails from the beautiful city of trees, Boise, Idaho. She’s a lover of all things geek and is happiest when cuddling with her dogs and catching up on the latest Marvel movies. You can follow her on Twitter @LizVGreene or delve deeper into her internal musings at InstantLo
Image courtesy of Chris Guillebeau