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4 Best Ways to Increase Creativity for Product Managers

Product managers are inherently multi-taskers having to do the technical work and manage all the business affairs.  Here’s some simple steps to help increase creativity for busy Product Managers.


1. Walk

Walking is likely the best form of exercise simply because it isn’t really exercise.  Our bodies are made and designed to walk forward, to keep at it one step at a time.

One can argue that the same can be said of running, but I beg to differ.

If we walk we can get to any place, no matter how long it takes because walking is something that using just the right about of energy to accomplish a goal — getting from point A to point B.

In a lifetime, you’re likely to walk over 118,000 miles!  Be sure to remember you took one step after another like everyone.

For most knowledge workers, most of us are sitting down to our work.  (Related read: Standing desks.)  So taking a walk inherently give you and I and opportunity get off our asses and be upright.  We are not really meant to sit for 8-10 hours a day and I don’t care how ergonomic the chair is!

Take a break, being away from the desk opens up the space for us to get away and focus on other thing.

Steve Jobs new a thing or two about the benefits of increase creativity by walking.  He would often have walking meetings with colleagues.  Many ideas would get generated from those walks including some products we know and love from Apple.

Other times, issues get resolved.  There is no replacement for the act of walking — fresh air, sunlight, companionship if we choose, conversation and the feeling of moving forward (unless you’re walking sideways or backwards).


2. Meditate

I never did take to meditate even when through in the face of the overwhelming evidence of its benefits.

I didn’t start meditating until I was sick and the health really started going.  I took my health for granted because work took priority.

I couldn’t get myself over the hurdle of taking time to do inherently “nothing” or order to do something better later.  Wouldn’t spending the ten minutes of meditating have contributed to ten minutes more work?

Creativity, like many complex systems, are not linear.  The 10 hours we put into the work is not really 10 hours worth of work.

And because we’re only human, many other human factors are taken into account because no two 10-hour period is the same in terms of our output.

After all, humans are non-linear creatures.  The freelancing work you do is the same: it’s non-linear in that the output is not proportional to the time you put in.  Is that way you left your 9-to-5 job in the first place?!

So if spending more time on something doesn’t mean the quality or quantity will be improved, my revelation is that we should spend time doing other things that can help us relax, stay healthy and things that aren’t directly contributing to the work itself.

One of them as discussed is walking, the other is spending time legitimately and actively the opposite of work — which is meditating.


3. Procrastinate (a bit)

Procrastinating is not such a bad thing.  Just like everything else, somethings are good in moderation.

Procrastination gets a bad rep for being a killer of productivity, but in reality it’s not.  Procrastination is a symptom rather than a cause.  Knowing that will help you understand how to overcome sloth.

When you delay your projects, the better question to ask is – why do you feel this way?  Do you don’t want to do it right now because it’s boring?  It’s too challenging?  It’s not what you want to do?

Answering those questions help me identify why I procrastinate.

Not all situations where I slack off are created equal.  Sometimes I feel like I need a break.  Sometimes I feel dread toward the client.  Sometimes it’s just plan boredom.

Figuring out why you are procrastinating is important because procrastination is a symptom — an indirect thing that his happening.  Best to figure out what is causing it and fill your own prescription.


4. Work On Another Project

I find that while multi-tasking has been debunked as not being productive, it doesn’t mean you cannot have two parallel projects going on that you do at different times.

I find working on multiple projects very rewarding: one, I get to switch gears and when I get bored on one, I know I have something else that potentially more fun and two, I find there are synergistic effects to working on two or more projects in parallel.

One lessons-learned from project A can help you think through an obstacle in project B.

Another reason why working on another project is good is because a project can help you relax.

Last year, I attended a design conference in Toronto and one of the agencies that presented was Herman Miller, famed for their chairs and a leading design organization.  Two esteemed veteran designers spoke and the takeaway from the amazing talk was to actively cultivate doing something the was useless.

It seems counterintuitive and silly that in trying to be more productive and creative we should in fact do something for the “uselessness” factor of it, but I think what it does force us to do is free ourselves for a moment from motivations that are more serious.

Inevitably, time, money, quality come into play for any Product Manager work, but doing a project like an art project that doesn’t have those measures helps us not actively engage the part of us and instead opens us up to other areas of our brain and ourselves for discovery.

Try that at home.  These past few months I’ve been starting thinking an art project that I’ve been ideating for years now but haven’t started.  I’m going to start on it as my useless project.

What other ways do you help to sustain, improve your creativity? Share with us below and we’ll add it to the article.