The Art of Finding Creativity Within Your 9-5

Here is what no one tells you in university. You’re basically in a rat towards obtaining a rather stagnant 9 to 5 routine which will essentially take over a significant portion of your young adult life. Unless of course you get fired for going on too many toilet breaks because of your disturbing bowel movements. During which everyone knows you are either surfing Instagram and/or trying to figure out how to join the Amish community. All in an effort to avoid another dreadful Monday morning status meeting.

Which let’s face it is just a chance for your managers to gloat about the financial metrics that the team met within that quarter but you don’t care because that clearly does not reflect in your monthly paycheck.

Real talk though I’m typing this article up at 6am on my front lawn wearing my favorite beer shirt dress absorbing the serenity of my surroundings before the world around me wakes up. It’s easy to find inspiration when you’re travelling, I mean even I’ve turned in to a philosopher (with a drinking problem) when I was in Croatia. But the challenge arises when you’ve got to find inspiration on that morning commute and that mid-arvo coffee break.

The great part is it’s not as hard as it looks. Here’s how.

  1. Thrive within your routine

I know everyone has heard that overused cliché around when life gives you lemons make a lemonade or whatever. Personally I’d use them to down a few tequila shots but that’s beside the point. You need to realise that no matter what profession you land in there will be a routine of some sort. It will get repetitive at some point and you can’t avoid that. As much as I hate to admit it, routine is what keeps us sane whether we realise it or not. What you need to do is understand how you can leverage this.

Do you work better under pressure? In the evenings after work? Does pretending like your article is a deliverable for a client help enhance your creativity due to your work-ethic? Use your work habits to enhance your side hustle. As a consultant pretending that my article is a deliverable for a client works in my favor because it comes naturally to me as part of my day-to-day.

You gotta learn to lean into your daily grind not fight it.

2. Embrace remote working

It’s a fact that digital nomads are redefining and challenging the 9 to 5 in ways like never before, companies are starting to realize that millennials love working remotely with flexible hours. Therefore to help retain talent they are offering flex hours, allowing employees to take control of their lives like never before.

I say leverage that shit. It’s part of the company’s culture so why the hell not?

There have been multiple instances where I’ve had to travel to client sites because of the nature of my job. At times like these I’ll find a cute local café, hotspot some data and whip open my laptop with a smoothie to go. This allows me to explore different corners of Sydney and find inspiration in quieter parts of the city. Thanks to the ever evolving nature of tech I don’t have to be in the same room as my manager to get work done, so how I utilize those hours are up to me.

As long as I’m getting the work done*

3. Connect with people

I’m a people’s person. Since day one. Hell I bet if I had a twin you’d probably see us communicating via sign language in the ultrasound. But alas, god decided one blessing was more than enough and so I was born solo, with no siblings. I was told that growing up I was that one kid on the playground who would approach anyone with zero shame and a friendly smile, like an open invitation. As a result I had no issues making any friends but I sure as hell had issues keeping them because I refused to share.

But that’s a story for another time.

As a consultant I meet a lot of people across the industry in either meetings or seminars. This means that I come across a whole bunch of different people, ranging from your standard tech heads to your legal and compliance teams. I always make it a goal to leave a project with a connection of some sort with someone from the client side because I’m always on the hunt for another drinking buddy.

As part of this ‘hunt for a drinking buddy’ I learn things about people. A few weeks ago I found out an Innovations Manager loves to do yoga at the crack of dawn next to the Opera house and attempted to run away from boarding school at the age of 19. When I hear stories like these I’m able to find nuggets of inspiration in them for either an article or a short story. I’m able to use the stories of these strangers and build an extravagant backdrop for a fictional character with elements of truth to maintain authenticity.

4. Say yes to night outs

Okay. As someone who’s recently adopted the mannerisms of a grandma I can finally see the appeal of getting cozy in your pjs before 8pm on a work night. I used to mock people for doing this but back then I was an intern and let me tell you full-time work is a job in itself.

Once you start this whole full-time work thing it’s easy for your life to get stagnant which then leads to you questioning your existence. Trust me I’ve done this on countless occasions. But it’s ESSENTIAL to force yourself out of this hermit phase. Temporarily. Aim for at least once every other week.

Just recently a mate and I decided to try bachata/salsa classes on a Wednesday. Were we delusional enough to think we’d survive with 6 hours and still make it fresh and early at 9am the following morning? Possibly.  But we sucked it up and did it anyway.

As my sleep deprived ass is finishing up this article at 9:30pm on a Thursday evening, I can vouch and say that I do not regret my decision. I met amazing people and immersed myself in a culture that I’ve always been curious about. At the end of the day you can both mope around about how repetitive your job is and then proceed to set a 6am alarm for the following morning or you can keep an open mind and stay curious.

* Ps: the last line was for my employer in the event that any of my work mates stumble across my blog. I know how sneaky you guys are.

Published by The Strategic Chaos

What happens when you mix an engineering major with a creative mindset who's always getting herself into awkward situations? The strategic chaos is born. It's what a love child between Mindy Kaling and Mark Cuban would look like. With Kevin Hart as side piece.

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