Whether you work in an office or from home, it can be challenging to create an environment for yourself that allows for innovation and creativity. Here are 5 tips to help you increase both innovation and creativity while maintaining productivity.

Don’t overschedule

In today’s fast-paced environment, it can be easy to schedule every moment of your day. There is much to be done and too little time to accomplish everything.

The problem arises when you don’t allow for down time. When you schedule out every moment of your day, you don’t allow for anything extra or new. You’re so busy running from task to task to task that you end up stuck in a rut, which is not conducive to innovation or new ideas. You may be surprised how leaving space for new experiences and inspiration can increase your productivity.

Which brings me to my second tip…

Take a break

Talk to a friend. Go for a run or walk. Take a yoga class. Play a game of Words With Friends. Color using an adult coloring book. Follow Einstein’s advice: take a nap.

You may find it helpful to schedule breaks into your day. The Pomodoro Technique recommends working for 25 minutes and then taking a break. Try it out. See what works for you.

The point is to shift your thinking. Your brain will continue working on the project or problem in the background. So take a break and come back to the problem with a new perspective and focus.

Personalize your workspace

Whenever possible, surround yourself with things that make you happy. Decorate with pictures of friends and family or souvenirs from a trip. Use pops of color. A personalized space will help you feel more comfortable and may spur creativity.
Hubspot wrote a great article last week about personalizing your workspace to improve productivity.

Eliminate clutter

Along the same lines, you’ll want to eliminate clutter as much as possible. It’s hard to work when laundry, toys, or other household clutter distracts you. If you’re in an office, piles of paperwork, books, and other clutter can be equally distracting. You don’t have to complete KonMari your space if you’re not ready for that, but go ahead and at least straighten up your environment.

Sometimes you need to change locations to refresh or give new perspective. Move to a different room in your house. Go to a coffee shop. Go work in the conference room instead of your office. A change in physical environment is often enough to prompt more creativity and focus.

On a personal note, this one may be my favorite tip. While I work from home, I frequently end up at a coffee shop or at a friend’s house. Laura Finch and I meet up a few times per month to hold “#WITeamDC” working sessions. Sometimes even a move from my “office” to my living room is enough to help me focus and get new ideas.

If you’re interested in more habits of original thinkers, check out this Ted Talk by Adam Grant.

What other tips would you add to this list?

Image Credit: 123rf/Franck Boston