Boost creativity in the home office

Suddenly it was there ... THE idea. This is how many people imagine creativity - but it's not that simple. Many find it difficult, especially in the home office. But there is a remedy

Home office is still on the calendar for many on a daily or at least weekly basis. Most of them have probably grooved themselves in well by now. But that also brings problems: Anyone who cooks for weeks on their own will eventually run out of ideas.

Instead, it takes meetings, brainstorming and maybe a beer after work together to develop creative ideas. Or? Experts explain how creativity is created, how you can work creatively in the home office and what to do if you are blocked.

The term creativity means the ability to create something new and useful, as Prof. Rainer Holm-Hadulla explains. He is a creativity researcher and consultant at the University of Heidelberg.

Clear structures for the imagination

Basically, creativity is something very individual, but most people have something in common: “Everyone needs clear structures in order to be able to fantasize freely within this framework,” says Holm-Hadulla. "It is not for nothing that all important artists, scientists and politically active people have fixed work rituals."

So creativity is not necessarily something that suddenly strikes you. Rather, according to Holm-Hadulla, creativity is a process that consists of five phases:

The first phase is preparation, it serves to acquire knowledge from the area in which one would like to be creative. This is followed by incubation - a phase of calm in which the knowledge acquired is sorted and can sit down. Then, ideally, the illumination follows - the aha moment. “This phase is usually overestimated,” says Holm-Hadulla.

Phase four, the realization, is usually the most strenuous and requires resilience. At the end there is verification, i.e. checking how the result affects others.

Creativity needs impulses

What does this mean for creative work in the home office? In principle, creativity is also possible from home. But:
“Creativity does not arise in a vacuum,” says psychologist and coach Cordula Nussbaum. "In order to be creative, we need external impulses."

How these impulses should look depends on the type. Extroverts have a harder time in the home office, because: "They have ideas while talking, for them the exchange with others is important." But that is also possible in the home office: via telephone or video conference.

For more introverted people, working from home can work well. Because they come up with good ideas by wallowing in thought. The impulses come from things in their environment.

Boost the ideas factory with the stimulus object method

With some people this happens subconsciously, others can make use of the so-called stimulus object method. With this creativity technique, you take an object that at first glance has nothing to do with the task and think about what the two things might have to do with each other - the similarities result in completely new ideas, Nussbaum knows. "The stripped-down variant is the stimulus word method: instead of an object, you look for a word."

Another technique to get creativity going is the headstand technique: With this technique, you think about how to achieve exactly the opposite of what you actually want, as Nussbaum explains. For example, the topic of postal voting: Actually, in Corona times, as many people as possible should vote by letter, so now you are thinking about what you can do to prevent this: Each vote costs, for example, ten euros postage and the voting slip can only be sent at midnight be thrown in. If you have collected enough, all of this is turned back.

Building up pressure doesn't help

Both introverts and extroverts can benefit from these methods. “Both techniques can be used alone, but they also work well in a team via video call,” emphasizes Nussbaum.

But one thing is certain, no matter how good the techniques are: "If you sit alone in your little room for weeks, staring at an empty document and waiting for the muse to kiss you, you definitely have no ideas," says Nussbaum. Because where the impulses from other people or new surroundings are already limited, you shouldn't additionally shut yourself up, but do what is good for you.

According to Nussbaum, time management is also important in the creative process. Many believe that they are only really creative under pressure. Nussbaum knows that this only applies to very few people. She therefore advises consciously taking the pressure off. "You should take your breath away to collect impulses and not touch everything at the last minute."

Do you have the best ideas while washing the dishes?

That also helps with blockages. Nussbaum advises, in moments when nothing works, to interrupt the situation first and to reduce stress. “Those who like to go jogging run a fast lap.” Meditation helps some, while others relax routine activities such as washing up or cleaning. Then she advises to consciously work with creativity techniques in the event of a blockage - pick out your favorite technique and try out what works.

Also helpful: the exchange with others. You can call a friend or your favorite colleague and ask for ideas. "The other person's idea often sets off fireworks for us."