In the last few weeks, I’ve written about the importance of creativity and fun in the workplace. Of course, we all hope every day could be fun and creative. But what do you do on those days that are just meh? We all have those days, especially on Mondays. Sometimes, it doesn’t feel exciting at all to be at work. So how do you find inspiration on the tough days?
When you’re in a productivity rut, try a strategy from this Forbes video to find inspiration. The first idea reminds me of an approach I described in this post about to-do lists. Basically, just zero in on your one priority for today. You may be overwhelmed by too many ideas. A single focus may inspire you to make it happen! Another way to get moving is the word “yet.” It’s not that you haven’t even started creating the presentation. You haven’t started yet. When you frame it that way, you know you’ll get to it soon.
When you’re really having a hard time, step away from your desk. Take a break! I’ve advocated for this practice before. Breaks are useful in many ways at work; accessing inspiration is just one of them. You can take a walk or find some nature. Either practice may help reconnect you to that inspired feeling. If you happen to work from home, you can also take a shower. Funny as this sounds, this study connected inspiration to showering. Just one more idea: be of service to someone else. Sometimes, we need to tap into something bigger than ourselves.
I also found great ideas for inspiration in this video, featuring experienced design executive Philip VanDusen. He’s a big advocate of collecting inspiring things to access later. That could mean YouTube videos, song playlists, or images in a Pinterest board. He also suggests giving yourself a prompt to start tapping into new ideas. You might try to invent a creative problem to solve in the first 10 minutes of your day. Hopefully, it will inspire you as you move on to your assigned tasks.
The Science Behind Inspirational Media
It might seem like collections of inspiring things are nice but not really effective. Think again. There’s science to show how inspirational media actually works. The research identified three main processes that affect the viewer. First, there’s what they call evocation. This is the part where you feel moved. You’ll likely start to think more deeply about what you’re watching. Then, you get to transcendence. This is the part where you feel hopeful about changing your situation. You feel like you can do this! And finally, you’ll get to motivation. At this point, you’re inspired to do the thing you’ve been feeling blah about.
The research found a few categories of content that best deliver inspiration. This media focused on transformations and creativity. Personally, I like to watch videos of people organizing before I write. These videos include both transformations in the space being organized and significant creativity. Seeing the big difference organizers make in just a few minutes gives me the motivation I need to get writing. Do you know what kind of content gives you that hit of inspiration?
An Inspirational Leader
If you’re a workplace leader, you may be more interested in how to get others inspired. Fortunately, there are strategies to make that happen too. This HBR article suggests that your employees must trust you to feel inspired by you. And this research from Harvard Business School can help you build that trust. It emphasizes the importance of leading with authenticity and empathy. (A healthy dose of humor can help you connect too.)
The article suggests learning from inspirational TED talks and other speeches shared online. Try to notice what those speakers do to connect with their audiences. What makes them inspirational? Some tell captivating stories of recovering from challenges and failures. As a leader, you should be comfortable telling your employees about ways you’ve grown from mistakes. Don’t be afraid to be human. In that same vein, share emotions. If you’re stressed about something in the news, mention it at the top of your meeting. Most likely, others feel the same way. When your employees see you working hard despite or even because of challenges around you, they’ll be inspired too.
This study also suggests that you can help your employees connect to inspiration by creating space for their spirituality. It’s an important part of employee wellness and a key ingredient for some people to feel inspired. Everyone’s spirituality is different, and it’s not your job to mandate it. Instead, you can facilitate opportunities for people to practice it. That might mean designating a space for meditation or prayer during employees’ breaks. It could also mean being supportive of lunch groups based in spiritual communities. Whatever the means, your goal is for employees to have access to spiritual sources of inspiration in their workday.
As great as it is to be inspired, there are some pitfalls you should avoid. One common mistake people make involves looking to people with disabilities for inspiration. As explained in this powerful TED talk, the disabled community doesn’t appreciate this. People with disabilities aren’t interested in being objects of pity to generate inspiration for non-disabled folks. Their lives are as unique and complex as those of non-disabled people. Especially in a diverse workplace, where diverse abilities are valued, you should be mindful of your biases. Watching people overcome obstacles in life is certainly inspiring for many of us. Just don’t assume you know what a person with disabilities is experiencing or overcoming in their life. And certainly don’t let a stereotype about them prevent you from forming meaningful, individual relationships with your coworkers.
In addition, watch out for some hesitations people have about looking for new sources of inspiration. You might realize it’s not explicitly in your job description. You might also not feel empowered to do things in a new way, even if you have a new idea. Be sure to bring these things up to your manager. Making room for inspired ideas will help move your workplace forward.
If you feel like your organization could be a source of inspiration to others, you should apply for the Inspiring Workplaces Awards. As I’ve mentioned before, winning awards is great for any organization. The organizations that apply here have to describe ways they excel in their culture, leadership, wellbeing, inclusion, communication, and experience. For instance, you may use Pyrus software to connect your teams through task-oriented communication and automate workflows. If so, you should talk about how that promotes communication and a great experience for your employees. Inspiration isn’t just something you want to get. You can be a source of it for others! So get noticed for the great work you’re doing.
And if you’re feeling stuck, just check out the strategies above and get inspired.