To find out what happened, I sat down with my friend Amanda Palmer, the musician and performance artist…
Amanda is a “professional creative,” a member of a growing tribe of artists and performers who are redefining what it means to have a job.
This new kind of work presents an opportunity to create work environments that emphasize fun and creativity. We can’t expect everyone to be cool with sharing office space with people dressed as giant vegetables (like Amanda) or spending the day bowling (like her husband, the writer Neil Gaiman). But we can think about ways to incorporate more playfulness into daily life. That’s not just good for us: Research shows that in addition to making us happier, more playful work environments make us more productive and innovative.
As you consider ways to have more fun in your work, remember that it is not just about the physical space and environment. Fun is about the mind-set too. If you want to be creative, you need to be open to ideas, risk taking and having a good time. If you are in a culture of fear, blame or bureaucracy, you won’t be having very much fun.
You also need to let go of perfectionism. Perfectionists are usually procrastinators because they are paralyzed by the thought that they could do better. Perfectionists are usually unhappy because they are their own worst critics. Perfectionists often don’t accomplish anything at all because they never finish anything perfectly either.
Creating a work environment where people feel safe enough and confident enough to take chances and make mistakes is essential if you want them to use their full potential and be happy with what they accomplish.
In the last few months I’ve been thinking a lot about how to create a more fun and creative environment in my own work. I’ve talked to many different people — my friends, my wife, strangers on the Internet…and I’ve made several changes to my life that have already had an enormous impact on my mental state and productivity.
I think the biggest reason why most people aren’t happier at their jobs is simply because they don’t want to be there. They are bored, frustrated, or resentful. And it’s not their fault.
It’s our fault — the organizations that hire them, train them and manage them. Many of these people don’t know what they’re doing wrong because every organization is set up differently. But this doesn’t mean that there aren’t some basic guidelines we can apply to our own businesses or projects to ensure we are creating environments where people enjoy what they do and feel inspired rather than bored or annoyed.
Here are three simple steps you can apply today to your own company or project: 1) Encourage playfulness 2) Take breaks 3) Ask for help**”
You don’t need to be a graphic designer to have fun and be more creative in your work, but I’m focusing on designers here because that’s my background.
One thing that can make us less creative is when we feel stuck or burnt out.
The opposite of creativity and fun is anxiety. When we feel anxious, our creativity suffers greatly. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t feel stressed at work. There is a difference between feeling stressed and feeling anxious.
Feeling stressed is usually associated with feelings of pressure and tight deadlines. Feeling anxious, however, often involves feelings of worry or dread, where there may be no clear deadline or source of pressure at all.
Telling the difference between feeling stressed and feeling anxious can be tricky. Here are some tips:
1. Recognize the signs of stress vs anxiety
I’ve talked previously about the importance of having a creative workplace. I think many people would agree that creativity in the workplace is important. However, few organizations actually do anything to encourage creativity and even fewer have a process to support innovation. So here are my top three tips for creating a creative work environment:
1. Create an environment where it’s safe to fail.
2. Show off your failures.
3. Celebrate the wins big and small.
This post is based on my experience working at a startup. The principles are applicable to any work environment, though.*
The post is also available as a video:** http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQN4tjS5p7I**
There’s this place on the East Side of Manhattan called the Fun House. It’s a sort of halfway house for recovering addicts, and I was hired to come in and entertain them. The first time I went there, I didn’t know what to expect.
I walked into this room and everyone inside was drunk or high. There were all these people dancing around, screaming at each other. Some of them don’t have legs. Some of them don’t have arms. They’re just running around, waving their stumps in the air like they’re pumping for some kind of demented synchronized swimming team.
“What’s going on?” I asked one of my colleagues.
“Oh,” he said, “they’re really happy you came.”
It took me a few minutes to understand that this is how these folks communicate with each other. Their brains are so fried from drugs and booze that they can’t do anything even remotely normal. It takes a lot of energy just to stay standing up and not pass out from the pain and confusion in their heads. But if you can get past that—if you can see past their twisted faces, which remind me every time I see them of the last stages of a zombie plague—if you can look past their missing limbs