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The importance of taking a creative break


Sometimes a little time out of the office is good for the creative brain. For the past two weeks, I have left my day job and volunteered for a youth theatre charity in Tottenham.

Yes, I’ve taken annual holiday to do it and yes, it was a bit of a struggle at time – however, I’ve picked up some great ideas, inspirations and new ways of thinking which I think will only benefit my day job by enhancing creativity and changing the way I think.

Psychologist Dr Simone Ritter from Radboud University Nijmegen has found that even just changing the way you make your usual sandwich can help boost levels of creativity. She says “people should seek out unexpected experiences if they wish to think differently and so approach problems with a fresh perspective …. Altering your daily routines can result in changes happening in your brain”

Here are 5 reasons and learnings as to why its important to break your conventional routine and do something different.


1. See the world through different eyes

I’ve spent the fortnight working with 11-16 year olds and sometimes they see things in a very different way than adults. The things they care about and the way they care about differ from adults. A learning curve. I’ve also learnt that some things stay the same whatever age you are. When you’re 11 and on your school holidays or you run  a national radio station department  – its clear that people are proud of creative work and take real honour in ideas and ownership. Creativity is always the currency.

I also learnt that just “having a go” is important to be creative. Don’t be afraid to try an idea. Its easier to adapt something when you’ve got something to start with in the first place.

Young people ask lots of questions. They create a journey to try and understand the answer. This only helps strengthen creativity and insight.


2. Allows you assess whats important

So I couldn’t spend the whole week without checking out my emails on my phones (come on!) – but it was interesting to see what stuff I replied too and what stuff I didn’t. Made me better at delegating and managing workload. It made me think about how much email I get that is not important, how I overuse the email system and how I can reply and communicate in short form to be most effective.


3. Pick up new ways of doing things / learn from other industries

Working with a theatre company has involved in a lot of drama games – these are positive exercises to help stimulate the brain in different ways. Whether that be ‘focus’, ‘energise’, ‘vocalise’, ‘move’ .etc – its a tool to help keep the brain emotionally engaged – particularly with a win.

While, I’m not suggesting to play ‘Duck, Duck, Goose‘ around the office – I’ve discovered that good ideas and insights are more likely to occur when you’re engaged in an activity of some sort and are emotionally stimulated. Rather than sitting killing time on Facebook, engage in an exciting task that occupies your attention to be the most creative with your ideas – such as going for a walk, be part of a club .etc


4. Change in routine is good

I was waking up slightly later – meaning I was listening to different radio in my morning. For example – stuff you hear in the 9am hour that I normally would miss as it wasn’t on the radio rota in the office during a morning. Spending the day not listening to the radio showed me how important I value having radio on in the office to be up to date with popular culture (news stories, artist news, latest music) .etc.

Having regular breaks throughout the day during the show rehearsals meant that I had more ‘down’ moments than usual, this played a part of how I viewed the day. How I was able to ‘check in’ to the office and set points. The change in routine meant that I went through different parts of London – noticing different things, different outdoor ad creatives to spark of different ideas. Seeing different things and different buildings .etc


5. Diffuse your attention and break the rules

Having alternative thoughts, issues and cares helps diffuse your attention. It allows the brain to refocus and energise. Sometimes it is so easy to get stuck in a rut of thinking – diffusing your attention to something else  helps change this. A more creative energy in your brain allows new possibilities to exist.

Break the rules. If you don’t try new things, it will never develop. Have the courage as Henri Matisse said “Creativity takes Courage”.



Image Source: Getty Images

Jonathan Jacob is a Solutions Manager at Global Radio with varied experience across commercial radio S&P, events, marketing and PR. He was listed in the inaugural Radio Academy 30 under 30, is a Student Radio Awards judge and sits on the Events Committee for The Radio Academy. Views are personal.

One Comment

  1. Great one Jonathan. I must admit I’m right now at the process of changing some of my habits 🙂 Take care, S.