Meet James (he/him). On the daily, James manages brand marketing at ecobee -a home tech company based in Toronto, Canada. Although he has many artistic pursuits - photography and piano to name two - creativity for James goes far beyond "art".
What does creativity look like to you? How do you use your creative brain?
I like to think of creativity as a practice, or a method for creation. I’ve practised creativity in the traditional sense as a classically trained pianist, but always resisting the written music in exchange for playing by ear and improvising. I’ve since moved on from the ideas of traditional and non-traditional creativity.
I’m a firm believer that creativity is a practice that is applied in any aspect of life.
And the most significant application of creativity in my life is the process of solving problems, or divergent thinking: the ability to creating unique, uncommon and multiple solutions that address problems. I work in marketing, so my problems often look like some business need or challenge. I address these problems by designing creative systems and process, and in many cases, develop creative work that supports a marketing campaign.
When are you most creative? Paint the picture for us.
Some people really shine when they’re in a collaborate environment. I love brainstorms as a way to intake information, but I’m most creative when I can be deeply focused. That typically looks like me getting up really early (well before the workday starts), I’m well-rested, caffeinated and hydrated, and I can sit down at my desk to focus in on a single task. Creating an environment where I can focus helps me be a better divergent thinker – I’m inspired by the focus and ideas will just start coming to me.
The perfectly painted picture doesn’t always exist, though. Especially now, when so many of us are working from home and face new covid-related responsibilities and challenges. I can normally do without the morning or the rest, but the most important piece to me is finding that focus, which sometimes requires a bit of persistence. But once you start flowing, it’s so easy to maintain.
What brain health tools help you get around brain fog and/or creative blocks?
A few months ago, I started meditating consistently, which I’ve found to be an awesome practice to rest my brain. I used to use long-distance running as a way to clear my mind, but since I’ve started meditating I make an effort to focus on the run itself and not let my mind wander back to solving problems. Whatever the practice, I really benefit from mental rest.
I know very little of the brain, but I’d like to think of it like a muscle: creativity and problem solving requires practice and exercise. And the more of it you do, the more mentally tired we become. And like any exercise, it’s important that you take the time to rest and recover, so that you don’t wear out or get injured. So, whether it’s meditation or a run, or even cooking and cleaning, finding something simple that I can focus on really helps me give my mind a break.