How to use your creativity when your work is uncreative

Not always, but for quite a while I’ve considered myself being pretty creative. I’ve always enjoyed arts and drawing, had a unique style to dress and weird hobbies such as puzzles. And one of my early adulthood goals was to work with something creative. I chose marketing as it lets you be creative in more or less all possible ways, you can work with copywriting, graphic design, photography, or for instance, video. So I studied international business with a lot of marketing courses, took extra courses in graphic design, practiced my photography skills and originally started this blog for improving my writing skills.

And after moving to Sweden and graduating with a master’s degree in marketing, I wasn’t sure at all I’d actually want to do it for living. I just wanted some simple office job, at a company where I could stay forever and possibly make a career at. And as a Finnish speaker in Sweden, those jobs are quite many.

So I went to a job interview. And one of the big questions was how I’d feel about working with something not at all creative, when a lot of my past work history and personal interests are accosiated with creativity. And I said: “I think you can use your creativity in different ways. Being creative doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a graphic designer, a composer or an artist. It can be applied in all kinds of situations.” It turned out to be so true at that particular job and I still hold that opinion. So after getting the job I was way overeducated (and apparently creative) for, here’s how my creativity was really blooming, (or going to waste) there:

1. As I was working in a group of other Finns , no one in the office could understand what we were saying, except when we were using names. So, we developed a nickname system and I came up with the best ones. Some of them were just Finnish versions of their actual names, e.g Emil -> Eemeli, Erik -> Erkki, Christopher -> Risto-Pekka… But some of them were rather descriptive and not exactly flattering.

2. Spend your work time for other stuff. Almost on a daily basis there were moments when there simply was nothing to do. So I tried to use it productively. They had actually had to block Netflix, as some of my previous co-workers were streaming tv-series at work. Though watching Youtube was accepted. I often started with drawing, then moved to Codeacademy or Duolingo for my Chinese.

3. Develop “best” practices. And share them only with the nearest and dearest.

4.  Start making memes related to your work and send them around the office. Incorporating your co-workers and even managers, if you’re confident enough, will increase their entertainment value.

Batman meme
An inside joke

5. Start working your way up the organization by making friends, being funny (everyone loves funny people) and counterintuitive. As the amount of work was measured, I always made sure I did more than the others. And when a co-worker was asked to take a call, I took it before he / she managed and sometimes even laughed at them for being slow.

Remember that creativity requires slack and coming up with the best ideas (or nicknames) might take a long time! And even the most uninspiring job might lead into opportunities for creativity. And now when I’m actually working with “creative” stuff I still sometimes remind my old co-workers of my existence… In creative ways.

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