Any business owners knows, we are required to wear multiple hats throughout the day, from dealing with clients or customers, working on bids or proposals, managing employees or contractors, invoicing, paying bills, reconciling financials, not to mention providing services and creating the products our business is based on. So multitasking is a common symptom of our busy lives, but the process of multitasking inhibits focus, increases stress and some studies show that can cause lasting brain damage.
“Research also shows that, in addition to slowing you down, multitasking lowers your IQ. A study at the University of London found that participants who multitasked during cognitive tasks experienced IQ score declines that were similar to what they’d expect if they had smoked marijuana or stayed up all night.” – Forbes.com
So while we feel that we need to accomplish multiple tasks simultaneously, we are actually making more work in the end. Your work will be of lesser quality if each task does not have your full attention. So here are some ways to be creative, achieve better focus and find more joy in your daily to-do list.
1. Mindfulness: After reading an article on the process of Mindfulness in life and relationships, I was intrigued and thought how many of those techniques of focused attention could also be applied to my work life. Its about being in the moment, focusing mentally and physically on the task at hand and blocking out any other thoughts, worries, or distractions.
“Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.” – Psychology Today
When networking, its vital to focus on the conversation, listen and ask appropriate questions. Great connections are made through great conversations, but if your eyes or mind is wondering, people will notice and assume you are not really interested in them. That is not the impression you want to create of yourself or your brand. So practice being truly engaged in your conversations when meeting new people, truly listening without judgement, ask good questions to show you are focused on them and you will make a lasting impression on them as well.
When working creatively, if you are blogging, developing a new product or service, working on your marketing plan, you especially need to be emotionally and mentally connected, so again using some of the techniques of mindfulness can help. Ask questions to start the creative juices flowing. How can this idea help my business? How can this idea help or engage my target audience? How can I implement this idea in my business? Do I have the time and money to make it a reality? What type of results can I expect once implemented after 3 months, 6 months, or a year? Taking time to truly ponder each idea, how to make it a reality and what may result will shape and mold it to success.
2. Be Positive. Creativity and productively flourish in a positive mind. If you are distracted by the negativity of what others are doing or saying, your own faults or past mistakes, or even fear of the unknown, you are missing out on exploring your next great idea. It takes time and practice but each day strive to block out negative thoughts and instead fill your mind with the blessings in your life. Force yourself to think about your great qualities, good friends and inspiring mentors in your life, your past successes, and imagine positive results. Thinking positively is a habit that will take time to develop but in time will come more naturally.
3. Find Solace. Find a time and place without distractions. Turn off email, social media notifications, silence your phone and turn off the tv/radio. Find a place that is bright with natural light, away from interruptions of staff or family, and block out a few hours of time each week (even if you have to schedule it on your calendar), to do work that grows your business and your brand. You may enjoy light background music to help block out negative or distracting thoughts. Research confirms this:
“A team of researchers, at the University of Illinois tested the effects of varying levels of noise on participants’ creative thinking skills.When they scored each person’s test, the researchers found that those exposed to a moderate level of ambient noise, significantly out-performed those in the other three groups. The background noise boosted their creative thinking.” – 99u.com
4. Be Confident. Everyone has great ideas, but few have the time or the confidence to explore their own creativity. I hear so many say, “I’m not a creative person”, but its more accurate to say that they have not tapped into their creative side. Everyone has ideas, original thoughts, perspective and opinions but often are too judgmental of their own voice to share it. Some of your ideas may be failures but does that constitute a reason to give up?
“A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein
No, mistakes and failures are our biggest life lessons and a large part of the creative process. Keep trying, keep learning and let your ideas flow freely.