I am an idea-carrier. I am susceptible to hearing a…
At any moment during my workday, there are 3 or 4 open, half-composed emails on my second screen. These pending tasks stand at the ready — waiting for me to complete my thoughts and send them off to the client.
I rarely walk to the office kitchen without being stopped to look at creative, answer a question about planning, text a client a quick reply, and so on. It’s the culture of business today. It’s the perfect representation of what it means to be in client service.
Over time I have learned this divided focus, many-balls-in-the-air mindset can only truly be successful when coupled with the determination to protect and nurture creative thinking. My job requires me to understand my clients’ competitive landscape, be able to evaluate a trend versus the tried and true, know what has worked for them in the past and make recommendations on the fly based on sound strategy and forward thinking.
If all I am doing is reacting to the work around me — the short-term deliverables labeled HOT!! — then I am failing in the critical role I play for my clients. I am not thinking on their behalf, finding solutions to problems, or helping find the forward edge of how to market to their customers.
Making my escape
If you peek into my office when it’s quiet, I know what you will find me doing: Falling down the Rabbit Hole. It’s the system I have set up that allows me to have moments each day where I can stop and think, chase an idea, read an article, find a spark for something new. My system relies on that information coming to me daily — and not forcing myself to set time aside for it. That simply would NOT happen. I know myself. I know what my days are like.
I aggressively use Google Alerts. I have them set for different times of the day for each client and that client’s competitors, for marketing writers or pubs I have found useful in the past, for keywords, etc. And when they start rolling in, I won’t file or delete the email until I take the time to read the alert. It often takes me to the Rabbit Hole. Read an article, have a fresh viewpoint, maybe a new idea for an old problem. Then I allow myself the time to save it to my notepad to flesh out later or open an email and start to compose a note to my client.
I recently read an article (from my Google Alerts Rabbit Hole!) that proposed that the most creative people flourish in clutter.
As a Type A, hyper-organized individual this set me back on my heels a bit. My desk is rarely a mess. But my day? My day is chaotic and disorganized from start to finish. And part of that chaos is what led me to try and protect my time to think and be creative.
In future posts I will share more of what I found through my Rabbit Hole trips as well as other ways to stay on top of creative thinking skills. Those of us in the suits need them, too!
Are you taking the time you need to be creative? Or are you stuck constantly reacting to the immediate needs of the day? What tricks or tips do you use to see the bigger picture or to find a better idea? Share them on our Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn pages — I would love to know what resources I haven’t discovered yet.