A Numbers Girl in a Creative World

February 21, 2019 - 5:00pm
By: 
Jenifer Crader

Working at an advertising agency can be an interesting experience for a gal like me, a gal grounded in numbers, statistics, and the bottom line, hidden in an office full of creative minds. Often times I wonder, “Is it possible to transform from the analytical into the world of the imagination?” Working in an agency setting has inspired me to try and change my way of approach at times and try to get inspired in new ways.

See 5 tips below for helping expand past the analytical and into the creative mindset you might feel surrounded by at times:

1. Carry Your Brain With You

One of the things I have been trying recently is carrying around a notebook. Simple enough, right? This notebook is not like a typical planner, or a legal pad in case I need to take notes in a meeting. This is solely focused on jotting down things that inspire me throughout my day. Whether that is writing down a quote I hear I might love, a story someone told, experiences or anything during my day that might make me slow down and “smell the roses” so to speak. Sometimes I even use it to doodle or brainstorm if I have a minute to spare during lunch!

Creative note-taking is such a simple way to keep your brain sharp and helps you to be nimble in your thinking- you can use this as a collection of creative material to inspire you when you need it. A quick story you write down may be the next blog post you are working on. Even with my love of numbers, and let me tell you, I love an Excel spreadsheet, taking a quick break from the computer screen to draw a quick sketch of the argument I’m trying to make sense of can help bring to life the problem at hand. And, hey, you might be rolling your eyes (I have been known to be that girl too), but even a quote of a funny situation you wrote down might spark a fun conversation in the office break room!

2. Inspiration Is All Around You

Hold on to your seats readers, I am not a Pinterest user. I am a hands-on kind of person. I need to hold things in my hands and touch them. I like to collect the things that inspire me to be more creative. So that might mean eating at a restaurant where the food was just amazing and grabbing a to-go menu to throw into my notebook. Or a photo/quote that I really love goes onto the walls of my office. If you are feeling like you are lacking in the creativity department, it might be time to step away from the computer and create somewhere physical to gain inspiration from. If you have a cubical, those walls are just asking for inspiration, and who knows what you might have on those walls that could inspire the next client presentation or proposal you are creating. I feel that having a creative space full of ideas makes it easier to come up with your own ideas.  

3. Sometimes Spontaneity Needs to be Scheduled

Just like going to the gym (so I hear at least), or learning a new skill, being creative takes regular practice. While it is really fun to be spontaneous sometimes, scheduling 15 minutes to allow yourself to think freely can be beneficial. You could spend this time just wandering around somewhere that inspires you. Maybe kill two birds with one stone and take a walk with a camera in hand. Want to practice being creative at work? That 1-hour lunch break is a perfect use of time. Take your lunch outdoors and let yourself write in the notebook, flip through a magazine, or spend some time stimulating that part of your brain. I have noticed this helps bring energy to me for the rest of the day.

4. Change, Change, Change

What do you remember from your morning commute this week? If you are anything like me, probably pulling out of the garage and into your parking spot. Most of us are so ingrained into our everyday activities that things are almost automatic. You have trained your brain to the patterns you have created. I find that when you force your brain to do something new, you’ll be more aware and engaged. These changes don’t have to be life altering- don’t go get a tattoo tonight. Start small, find a new route to work, instead of the same sandwich you eat for lunch everyday add some jalapenos and spice it up. If you typically love to run, try a spin class; the goal is to stimulate your brain in a new way. While you are doing something new, the hope is that you will be more engaged with everything around you and unlock some new found creativity.

5. Yes Is the New No

This one is a real kicker, the last level of enlightenment, the one I have struggled with the most. Unlearn the word no (ok not all the time). Learn to say YES! to new opportunities. When you are meeting with the boss and they have a new idea that pushes you outside of what might typically be your box, push through and say YES! This is where the phrase “fake it ‘till you make it” can really help you shine. Trying new things, thinking in new ways, and expanding your comfort zone will help to unleash the creative in you. Maybe it is as simple as attending an event you would not typically ever go to, or moving away from creating a spreadsheet and trying a new style of presentation you might not be as comfortable with. No matter where you decide to dip your toe being on board to say YES! Can open new doors for you.

Since I have worked to add these small shifts into my everyday routine, I have seen myself thinking in new ways. At the end of the day I have learned that you don’t have to be a designer or artist to be “creative”. What are some ways that you think you could try being more creative in your everyday?

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