Create Routine for Innovation


Create Routine for Innovation

routineEvery day is a grind. It wears you down. Get up, get dressed, get to work, go home, go eat, go to sleep. Do the routine all over again. In the middle of all of that, you have to find time to be creative and innovative so that you can come up with all these great new ideas.

The problem is that creativity only happens when you can block off a half-day at least and reserve a meeting room far away from work, right? The truth is that creativity and innovation happen all day long.

First, start looking for it.

For example, if I told you to keep an eye out for green cars, after a few days you would be surprised by how many green cars you see around you. It’s the same with creativity and innovation. Start looking for examples of yourself and others being creative. The list of interesting things around you is endless: interesting ads and commercials, different ways to word things, new food combinations, how colors are used, and so on. If it’s something you can copy, emulate or modify, go ahead and use it. The key is that you have to pay attention first.

Second, keep track of your own and other people’s ideas.

Keep a journal or notebook where you write down ideas you like or your ideas as they come to you, no matter how crazy or dumb they sound. Volume is the key here; the more the better. They will often come to you when you least expect it: literally, in the shower; when you’re driving, when you’re out shopping, when you’re doing yard work, when you’re fixing dinner, when you’re playing with your kids and so on. Write it down as soon as you can. However, you can also jot it down on your smart phone. When you have time, you can play around with the ideas to see if any of them might be actionable. Most of them will not be very good, but the more you keep at it, the more likely that you will have some good ideas.

Third, change how you do things. You don’t have to change everything.

Start with small things. Change the route you take to and from home. Most of us take the exact same route to and from work every single day. You could almost drive it blindfolded. You just start to slow down and speed up at the same points without even thinking about it. The same cars start to be seen daily. Find different routes, or at least change some parts of it. It makes you focus on what’s in front of you while also making you see what’s around you.

The same goes for the order in which you normally structure your day. Change your office and desk layout every so often. Change the time and where you go to lunch. Most of us frequent a very limited number of restaurants, and we usually order the same thing there over and over.

The point here is to change your patterns.

We tend to fall into ruts but you have to get out of your well-worn groove.

Read different things, listen to different music, listen to different people, watch different movies or television programs. In all of these areas, we tend to focus on the same magazines, authors, musical groups and other types of entertainment. This is an attention rut. Explore areas you normally would not be exposed to. Changing what’s going into your head will change the ideas your come up with.

Take time to think about ideas. Carve out five to 10 minutes a day to spend time thinking about one idea or challenge. Break that idea down into the how, why, where, when, what and who elements. Did you notice how I changed the order of that phrase from the commonly used “who, what, when, where, why and how?” It sounded strange, didn’t it? Do that to your challenges. After your time is up, put it away and come back to it later.

These are just a few easy suggestions to put creativity into your daily life. It’s not hard. It just takes practice.

Arnoldo Mata heads Leadership Resource Group and has more than 30 years of experience in leadership training and development. Leadership Resource Group works with nonprofits, governments and private businesses on strategic planning projects that provide focus and direction for organizational growth. He also provides training and services in creativity and ideation.