Everyone has something that inspires them. Cooking, gardening, art, music, building, sailing…something that you’re passionate about that also recharges you in a way that nothing else can. The things that when we do them, we aren’t just refreshed and recharged but also inspired with new and fresh ideas. So here’s the question then: when was the last time you brought that same feeling to work?
Not rooftop gardens, except in your head
No, I’m not talking about starting a rooftop garden at work (though gardening has been shown to be therapeutic, and you get to eat the fruits of your labor), rather I’m talking about fostering that feeling of inspiration so it continues while you are at work. Often we compartmentalize our lives to such a degree that in the process of leaving work at work (always a good thing), we forget to bring life back with us to work when we return. The trick is how to bring that something, and the inspiration that comes with it, into work that isn’t very “work like”. It’s actually not so hard, and you could probably start this week. It all starts with bringing your life into work with you and ensuring that you have a reminder of what brings inspiration in front of you—literally.
So if gardening and plants are your thing, how about a small plant or bonsai at your desk. Bonsai can be hardy and with the effort of tending them in your office help invoke the out-of-mindedness that fuels inspiration. Music your passion? Invest in good headphones, or speakers if you can pull it off, to surround yourself with sounds that let you explore all your ideas. Even small objects, a baseball, a rock, a special item like a toy or picture can remind you of what passions drive you outside of the office while still in your office.
Don’t scoff at rituals
Creative people have rituals to get their minds in the right space to work. Some of them might seem odd—Stravinsky would stand on his head when he felt stuck and there are more interesting quirks of other famous folks you might find interesting—but others are pretty mundane (naps, walks, favorite chair, time of day to work) and if you develop a ritual to find inspiration nurture it! There is nothing wrong with having something that you can do to get your mind set, focused, and ready for heavy thinking work. Read a favorite author before writing? Start a playlist of songs that inspire you? Fresh pad and pencil for a strategy session or new project? Why not. Why not if it works. Ritual, ascribing a great meaning to a small thing or action, is a fantastic way to help you remember the times you’ve felt most inspired and recapture those moments.
Why inspiration gets lost at home
Sometimes we lose sight of how to be inspired at work when we forget why we started doing the job in the first place. Maybe we feel like we have more important things to work on while at work than “just daydreaming”, but I’d say it’s actually more simple than that—we’ve had the inspiration drummed out of us.
It’s a new year (sure it’s January 6th, but let’s face it last week was just a warm up to the new year) so take a moment and see where work needs a kick in the pants to get going again. Maybe you need a puzzle at your desk to solve. Maybe you need to stand instead of sit to work more. Maybe you just need to remember those times you’ve been most inspired and learn to carry that feeling with you all the time.
You never know, it could be fun.