Creativity in the Workplace

Is Mad Men illustrating that one cannot be creative in their daily workflow?

If you were a dedicated fan of the television show Mad Men like I was, you probably watched the series finale show last year. When the credits rolled one last time I was left pondering a lot of personal and professional questions. Mad Men’s main character, Don Draper, ends the series by abandoning his job and taking a cross-country journey. This trip is filled with self-loathing, confessions, and a support group that leads to him share a smile and popular carbonated beverage.

We are led to believe it’s this journey that ultimately inspires Don to return to work and creatively design a memorable and popular ad campaign for the company behind the carbonated beverage. This is an example of creative inspiration coming at an extremely selfish high price.

Is Mad Men illustrating that one cannot be creative in their daily workflow? It is best to exit and re-enter the workplace to exercise creative muscles? How can you strengthen your creative core without adapting to disruptive behaviors that characters like Don Draper bring to the workforce? These questions ultimately made me reflect on how I typically brainstorm and search for creativity at work and in the kitchen. You don’t have to be an artist or ad man to come up with an idea, paint a picture, and capture ones attention. Here are some things I have incorporated into my daily workflow that have helped me strengthen my creative backbone:

  • Daydreaming Relaxed attention…break away from your screen by booking 15 minutes a day away from an on-switch.
  • Using my vacations to travel and broaden my horizons; use your travels to experience 1 new thing. When you go to a new city or country, you become hyper-observant. Bring ideas and culture back home and incorporate it into your lifestyle. Low on travel money? Open a browser window and read the travel section of an online newspaper or try a new recipe at home for dinner. Open your company’s webpage and browse through it like an outsider.
  • Baby Steps Understand there will be edits, drafts, frustration, more drafts, more frustration. Take small steps with your big ideas. Have the courage to try prototypes. It isn’t failure if you have courage to move forward and improve.
  • Idea Journals Use the note feature on your phone to capture thoughts. Revisit them, add and delete as your mind circulate the thought. Does the idea still sound like a good one a few hours, days, weeks later?