Team members discussing creative work

If You’re Reading This, You’re Probably Thinking About Something Else

How Mindfulness Can Help Creatives… And You!

Sorry, What Did You Say?

Research by Harvard psychologists showed that people spend about 47% of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they are doing. Isn’t it wild to think we spend nearly half of our day only half-invested in what’s in front of us?

I started to worry that my coworkers weren’t listening closely to my (adorable) cat stories – and then realized I do the same to them when they talk about literally any of the John Wick movies. So we’re even!

But time to focus. Recently, our creative team’s been sharing inspirational pieces and new ways to brainstorm. After reading this study on getting sidetracked, I had a thought: maybe instead of getting from Point A to Point B, we need to get from Point A to Point Be.

This idea is known as mindfulness, so I did a little digging on how we can all be better at being in the moment – and how that might help our creativity along the way.

What is Mindfulness?

Good news: you don’t need a yoga mat or a leave of absence to achieve mindfulness! (But I guess it’s bad news if you were planning to Eat-Pray-Love your way to a new frame of mind.)

This is going to sound super obvious, but simply put, mindfulness is the simple act of paying attention. It’s observing a moment as if we’ve never witnessed it before. It’s the ability to be fully present and aware of where we are and what we’re doing.

Sounds easy, right? Because you’re doing that now, right? You didn’t just read that text or glance at your email since you started reading this, right?

Exactly. Easier said than done. Confession: this is my third attempt at sitting down to write this blog. It’s not the rush projects or looming deadlines, but my own daily distractions that are to blame.

Mindfulness is being actively involved with all of your senses instead of allowing your mind to wander. Think of standing in line at a coffee shop: rather than looking at your phone, look around. Notice the specials on the menu. Hear the baristas greeting guests. Smell the fresh coffee beans. Pick up a flyer promoting a neighborhood event. Finally, taste that first sip of your drink as if you’ve never ordered it before. If it’s been a while since you really listened to a song or tasted a familiar dish, mindfulness can feel as though you’ve discovered a whole new world – and that can do wonders for your creativity.

Adios, Auto-Pilot

Creativity thrives in a mind that’s open to ideas. Think about it: when you’re flexible and non-judgmental, your mind is open to what is and what could be.

When we stop labeling things at a quick glance, it helps our creativity thrive. Being in the moment allows us to avoid our natural tendency to categorize and move on (“this idea’s already been done,” “the client has never liked that,” “Katrina, stop trying to get your cat into a TV spot,” etc.). We see what is and build on the potential, pushing ideas as far as they can go. We also avoid “auto-pilot” when practicing mindfulness. Instead of going through the motions and turning our noses up at curiosity, we explore the possibilities; we take a new idea path not yet traveled.

Now, instead of being only half-invested in the white board in front of us, we can start being fully present and mindful. Because when we really listen to coworkers – their ideas, their input – we can build on their ideas and develop the best concepts for our clients. That’s what being a creative team is all about.

So whether you consider yourself a creative or not, all of us could benefit from practicing mindfulness. And if any of the John Wick movies happen to be playing in my vicinity, I guess I’ll take a closer look.