Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Working outside the box

Conisbrough Castle

People often ask me where I find the inspiration to write. I usually point them to this: What is inspiration? It’s a detailed look at the source of inspiration, including examples from Steve Jobs and Picasso.

Today, I’d like to share another strategy with you. It not only inspires me, it makes work more enjoyable and fires up my creativity.

Outside the box

It’s a beautiful, crisp winter’s morning. As I write this, I’m at Conisbrough Castle: an English castle that dates back to the 10th century [see image above]. Now, I could have worked from the studio this morning. I could have worked from my home office. I could have found a coffee shop.

Instead, I decided to work outdoors.

This morning, my roof is the sky. My desk is my lap. And I’m surrounded by inspirational architecture. It’s a very different environment from which to create or work. It’s also just one of many places outdoors where I often work. The location itself is less important than the fact it’s outdoors.

So, why am I here?

There’s a common phrase, which is overused in business and seldom understood: Thinking outside the box.

The phrase relates to the ability to think, without the limitations of the box we surround ourselves with. Ironically, we tend to see the concept used by people who are located within the box of their working environment; an office, boardroom, meeting room, breakout area, etc.

Some years ago, I decided to take the idea of thinking outside the box a little more literally. I wondered if working outside would change and hopefully improve, my creativity. I was curious if ideas came easier and better, when my surroundings were the open air — totally outside the box.

It immediately became apparent to me that working outdoors was a very different experience. Not necessarily better, but different. And when you’re stuck for an answer or wrestling with an exciting new idea, having that additional, different creativity option can be extremely useful.

So, what makes the experience different?

I have a theory

We know that everything we connect with influences us. All five of our senses provide inputs, which help determine what we focus on. And what we focus on determines how we feel. I’ve discovered that the sensory experience when working outdoors is far richer, than I experience when working indoors. The colours, smells and sounds are more organic. More natural. They’re also less predictable. I think it’s a fusion of these, which helps me look at ideas, projects and challenges with a different and often extremely effective perspective.

It’s important to point out that what I am sharing with you is simply my personal experience. I have no data to confirm that it will work for everyone or that it will work for you. However, if you have not tried taking your work outdoors before, its certainly worth giving a try. This is especially the case if you have been wrestling with a challenge.

I hope you find this useful. More importantly, I hope it helps you.

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Originally posted on this blog

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