Giving Creatives a Break

Last week mom and I took a long weekend to Chicago. We watched baseball, toured houses, shopped, and went on tours. It was wonderful! And it was needed.

Why Breaks Matter

Creatives, more than any other group, need time to take a break. The task of coming up with something brand new — concept, logo, marketing strategy, advertisement — it’s hard work. It is work that becomes personal. Creatives view most projects as an outpouring of themselves.

Doing it a few times is fun — doing it again and again and again can be draining. The lack of creative breaks can also lead to creative challenges.

Here are some examples of uninspired creativity that can happen:

  • Designs feel too similar
  • Designs lack lustre or that unexpected touch
  • Concepts become surface-level
  • Strategy feels obvious

Speaking from experience, it happens. And it has happened to me (more than once).

That’s why I so enjoyed my break with my mom – it was a nice, relaxing break. I came back renewed and ready for another season of exciting work.

Ways to Overcome This

As I reflected on my own experience last week, I realized that we all need to do a better job at giving our creatives time to mentally take a break and find inspiration.

Here a few ways I might explore to see if these are beneficial to my team. Just know, these are untested, so they may not be helpful. I would also venture to say every team needs something different, so part of this is knowing what works for your team!

  1. Office Lunch – I seem to go to food. However, I think there is power in providing lunch for the group and just socializing. It can be what people are working on, what is happening over the week, or just what the kids are doing. My instinct is this gives us time to build connections and let our subconscious continue working on projects that might be challenging.
  2. Team Review – One thing I instituted at my university (for an unrelated reason) might be helpful here. Each week in our design meetings, the creatives showcase work and other designers offer feedback to improve. Just like we had critique of our writing and designs in school, we are doing the same here. I think it’s helpful to get small changes from others that can continue to elevate. Collaboration can breed innovation.
  3. Get Out of the Office – That could be a gathering, a work remote day, or a tour of a local museum. Breaking up the regular routine for creatives is critical to keep the energy exciting and the creative juices flowing. After all, a different routine can yield different design.
  4. Keep Your Eyes Open – Inspiration comes from anywhere, if we are open to receive it. As leaders, I think it’s our responsibility to model this for our creatives. Just because it is something we saw that a corporation did, doesn’t mean it might not be valuable. However, we need to highlight that by mentioning great campaigns, talking about cool print pieces, or discussing new strategies. We need to model the vast array of where our people can find ideas.
  5. Learning Never Ends – Speaking of modeling, we need to highlight the idea of always learning. That can be online articles, webinars, reading good articles, or attending conferences. As leaders of creative teams, it’s on us to create the culture that we need to keep learning about the world where we create to allow us to create better.

Now What

I’ll be honest. This is something I just hit on while traveling last week. So, it isn’t fully formed. I’m going to be playing with these ideas to help my creative teams avoid becoming drained. They’re amazing, and I hope this helps keeps it that way.

If you have ideas that you use to support your teams in this way, I’d be all ears to hear them. After all — we can all benefit from helping our creative teams remain inspired.

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