If you’re reading this article, I’m assuming that you’re interested in enhancing your career. Readers who are seeking tips for increased performance at work should be happy to learn about the impact of creative outlets!
Instead of speaking about items like initiative, collaborative efforts, or removing inefficiencies, I want to discuss giving your psyche an oh-so-valuable break from work to alleviate your stresses.
First, let’s start by differentiating creative outlets from material satisfactions.
For example, in the city I come from, many of my childhood friends work in factories. They make a comfortable income and are routinely offered overtime.
Most, if not all of my friends who work in those factories have five, and sometimes six-figures invested in toys. Drag cars, lifted trucks, supercharged, high-performance dune buggies, powerboats, etc.
Now I’m not saying that motor-sports or vehicles are bad. I’m not saying we shouldn’t work hard to achieve things we love, but it is important to recognize the creative outlets I’m talking about.
Things like photography, painting, building the kids a backyard fort with recycled materials, learning to dance, etc. We’ll talk more about this in a bit.
Is This Concept Legitimate?
Many are aware of Google’s famous 80-20 rule.
The concept is that 80% of an employee’s time is to be focused on their primary job. 20% of their time is allowed for the exploration of passionate interests as side projects. The only requirement is that the side project benefits Google somehow.
As this idea has been observed, researchers conclude that employees are more creative and productive when the 80-20 rule is utilized.
I understand that most of us don’t have a workplace environment where every 1 out of every 5 cumulative workdays is to be dedicated to side projects.
If you don’t work at a company like Google, you must personally dedicate yourself to a creative outlet and make sure to allow enough time for that outlet.
Why is it so important for us to give our brains, bodies, and emotions a break from work?
First, let’s refer to a 2014 study conducted by Kevin J. Eschleman, Jamie Madsen, Gene Alarcon, and Alex Barekla entitled: “Benefiting from creative activity: The positive relationships between creative activity, recovery experiences, and performance-related outcomes”
The research from this 400-participant study indicates that “Creative activity was found to have both indirect effects and direct effects on performance-related outcomes, but the effects varied by the type of performance-related outcome. The results indicate that organizations may benefit from encouraging employees to consider creative activities in their efforts to recover from work.”
The research indicates that doing creative things helps us do better at work.
One of the main points of the study is that creative activities help us “recover” from the stresses and extended focus of work.
I wonder if creative outlets help us recover from stress, and stress can negatively affect health, could creative activities positively impact health?
For many of us, the idea of taking a break from work seems foreign. We can even feel guilty about it… Don’t!
I want you to accept that the outcome is better performance at work. There is nothing wrong with enjoying the process that produces the result.
What Are Some Good Creative Outlets?
If the primary goal is to increase performance at work, then you’ve found a great target in creative outlets and activities.
My goal isn’t to suggest the right specific activity. Rather, it is to make sure your creative activity does help you perform better at work.
I believe that your creative outlet shouldn’t require substantial, consistent investments. Not in this context at least.
So, if you have to spend some money on a new DSLR camera and lenses, a quilting machine, or other working capital up-front, it may be unavoidable. At the same time, I don’t believe your creative outlet needs to be something that keeps costing more and more.
Your creative outlet should be something that you can pick up and put down at your leisure. Something that does not have deadlines or return-on-investment to be considered.
It should be low-stress and enjoyable. Your outlet should be something you look forward to doing, and something that yields a rewarding experience. For that, it’s important to take a break from work.
My first career was in Video Production. It’s also what I received my undergraduate degree in. I was passionate about the field.
As I began my career in video, I averaged 50-60 hours weekly. I was producing many different types of projects, but the majority were concepts like health, safety, and corporate videos.
When I went independent a few years ago, I started producing the videos I care about. I just posted the following video as I am finishing this article.
I shot this in March 2017 and I’ve been editing it for the last six months. Although I thought I had it finished before the Summer started, it wasn’t perfect.
For the following months, I’ve opened it up a few times a week and made small tweaks and changes until it finally felt like it was as good as I could make it. I’m glad there was no deadline, client, or billable hours to worry about. My apologies for the few cuss words in the soundtrack. I did not want to change the artist’s song without his permission.
Fortunately for me, education and work have allowed me to put countless hours into my creative activity.
Please don’t think your creative outlet must be as technical and complex as video production. Don’t feel like you need thousands of hours of experience. Your creative outlet could be something as (seemingly) simple as adult coloring books.
As an entrepreneur, I’ve learned to define the desired outcome. Then I seek the best, most efficient way to achieve that outcome.
As you mature in your career, I’m sure you are learning how to stay focused for longer periods and perform more efficiently. I bet you’ve evolved in the art of workplace diplomacy.
Maybe you’ve even mastered the skill. You may not be aware, but you have put a lot of time, energy, and emotion into becoming the most valuable employee you can be.
Now think to yourself for a moment…Think about the outcome… What other tactics for increased workplace performance (besides physical fitness) have you ever read about, considered, or applied that are as enjoyable, stress-free, and rewarding as your creative activity?
If you’re striving to reach your greatest career potential. If you are willing to dedicate yourself to the hard and unpleasant aspects of performing your best. Why wouldn’t you take the chance to increase your performance by recovering with a creative activity?
Many years ago, I realized that I needed more creativity and more physical activity in my life.
I made substantial changes to allow for more creativity and activity. Now, I’m healthier, happier, less stressed, and my performance when working is far better than it has ever been.
Does your career a favor and dedicate yourself to a special creative outlet?
Take a break from work often, and stick with it. If you do this, you will be on a path for better results at work and more fulfillment in life.