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Stokes Croft,
Bristol, BS2 8QW

How Can I Think More Creatively?

Posted by Cat How, August 1, 2018

As Creative Director at Polleni, much of my day is spent trying to effectively turn creativity ‘on’ and ‘off’. If we have to work on a strategy-heavy brand concept or logo design first thing, then I need to get that hat on and deliver effectively between the hours of, say, 9am and 11am. Or it might be between 3pm and 5pm (those times are killer).

The point is, that being ‘creative’ is not necessarily a permanent state of being. It could be seen as a skill — which, with training and practice — you can rustle up and flex when you need to. You can hone it, master it and grow better each day at it too. I like to call this ‘creative mindfulness’. By training your mind to think creatively as and when you need it to, you can use time on / off more effectively too. Truly original inspiration might strike when you’re doing something more mundane and not necessarily associated with a creative task, and you are more likely to avoid creative burnout too.

Alongside being Creative Director at Polleni, I also co-founded the Pollen Place workspaces — colourful coworking studios in the heart of Bristol. Providing the right environment for people to be creative in, is absolutely paramount to our business and it is something that is constantly on our minds. As a result, we’ve found a lot of people in the creative industries (architects, designers, developers) have been drawn to our space. Being a creative working in this environment has also allowed me access to some things that I think might help…

  • Greenery. Surround yourself by plants — or even just pop a pet cacti on your desk. Studies have shown that plants help reduce stress and increase productivity and creativity. They oxigenate the room and green has a relaxing and calming effect on humans. Apparently even just one plant per workspace can produce a huge uplift in spirits.
  • Clutter. Clear it! A clean working area lends itself to a cleaner approach to work. We provide coworkers with lockable pedestals under their desks so they can store and organise their things. This frees up their deskspace, and I believe, their headspace too…
  • Music. At Pollen Place we try and have non-offensive music playing on our speakers during the day — trip hop or a Spotify playlist of mellow beats. We found several coworkers said that sitting in a silent room actually made them more uneasy, and less productive, so we have tried to get a balance where people can enjoy it if they want or pop some headphones on if they want to listen to something more personal.
  • Art. Surround yourself with things that make your eyes smile. Seeing beautiful things on a daily basis, makes your mind more receptive to beautiful thoughts too. At Pollen Place we place heavy emphasis on the art we hang on the walls of our studios — it is all very carefully considered. We particularly like limited edition screen-prints from contemporary illustrators and print-makers like Lucie SheridanTom Pigeon and Paul Farrell; alongside quirky one-off pieces of fine art too.
  • Walk. Have you ever thought about how often you walk around during your working day? I should do it far far more often! I get sucked into the trap of thinking that if I sit glued to my desk, I’ll be more productive. But actually the opposite is true. Also try walking around during meetings. Yes, your colleagues might eyeball you — but it really does help with concentration and creative flow!
  • Time. The early bird does indeed catch the creative worm. So if you want to get the best creativity out of yourself, it is always best to give your brain a bit of a leg-up: start working on creative ideas earlier in the day.

Of course there really is no formula to this, just a few things that might be good to keep in mind. Ultimately, as with most of life, it is about balance. The time you spend giving your brain a ‘rest’ can be just as valuable as when you are putting it through its creative paces.

So if you’re working on a creative project, try to not let it consume you — at work or at home. Let it simmer. Leave it at the door when you get home. But by all means pick it up again if you want when you go out for dinner with your friends or partner — my husband and I have some of the best creative breakthroughs over a glass of wine.

Which takes me to my last point… relax. Creativity can be summoned, but it doesn’t like to be forced. The only way you can make it work for you is to work with it, and not take it too seriously. The best thing is to enjoy the process of working creatively — in a creative environment — and the rest will take care of itself. Promise.


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