In the final weeks of the 2020 cycle, we find ourselves clocking longer hours and hurriedly working through our ever-growing, to-do lists. Available time for brainstorming begins to dwindle and most will opt for simple solutions to looming problems. Creativity is crucial in our industry, but finding time to come up with creative solutions during the business end of a busy election season can be tricky.
I approach this problem by looking at the where, when, why and how of creative thinking. Analyzing it this way can help you and your creative team make the most out of brainstorming sessions and prioritize your creativity during a busy final stretch.
Most of the time we force our creative thinking to be done at our desks and in front of our computers. Taking yourself out of a “work mindset” is the first step to helping you think more creatively. This means putting yourself in a new environment, and if possible, completely away from your computer. Simply moving to another area of your work room, or sitting outside your office for a brainstorming session can clear your mind to allow new ideas to surface.
Take a moment to reflect on when you do most of your creative thinking. Last year, I found myself brainstorming directly before starting on a new project. Most of the time, these projects had impending deadlines and I found myself clinging to the first idea that popped into my head. Not giving yourself enough brainstorming time can be detrimental to the creative process and make you quick to jump to a simple solution.
Schedule time on your calendar for yourself at least weekly or, if possible, daily to think freely and creatively for your clients. Not only does this prevent you from putting brainstorming on the back burner, it allows your mind to focus on hitting essential checklist items for the day without distraction or anxiety about when you will find time to brainstorm.
Lastly, the best part about scheduling brainstorming time like this is the ability to return to your ideas multiple times before executing. This allows your ideas to fully process and gives you the opportunity to make adjustments.
Fully understanding the why behind your brainstorming session before you dive into the creative thinking process is essential. This will help you come up with solutions that align directly with your end goal. It’s easy to lose focus when you begin brainstorming without a clear plan, and you run the risk of letting your mind wander into many different directions.
A great way to avoid this is by having your end goal clearly stated. Whether it’s at the top of a piece of paper or at the beginning of a meeting, making this clear will ultimately lead to a better outcome.
The most important aspect of creative thinking is how you’re coming up with ideas. If you generally take all of your notes on the computer, opt for pen and paper. If you usually write on the same lined note paper, opt for a blank piece. Switching things up will keep your brain energized and encourage your mind to think of things in an abstract way.
Although individual brainstorming sessions can be effective, creativity thrives off of collaboration. If you feel like your brainstorming sessions are getting stale, invite your friends and colleagues to bounce some ideas off of you. Introducing new perspectives into the mix can give you a different outlook on the problem at hand and encourage you to think creatively.
Nicole Fryling is currently Senior Director of Graphic Design at Go BIG Media.