Archives trip

Notes From The Field

To do any job, it’s important to be creative. We might think of the creative industries (film, music, writing, the arts, design) as the sole place where fostering a sense of imagination is important to your career path. However, any profession I can think of benefits from being innovative and thinking outside the box.

For those of us in fields where creativity is not front and center to the job description, it can be especially hard to channel our inner creator. We tend to get stuck in a rut during the workweek, and it’s easy to feel uninspired when our daily routines don’t change much.

This week, GovLoop has been all about seeking inspiration to help us do our jobs better. On Wednesday, a group of us took a field trip to visit the National Archives Museum here in Washington, D.C. to get our creative juices flowing at the “Records of Rights” exhibit.

The exhibit wasn’t your traditional show of records and documents. It provided instead the digitized version of historical documents relating to various civil rights narratives throughout American history. Using a massive table of Microsoft PixelSense touchscreen panels, it allowed us to digitally poke around and leaf through the documents in an immense learning session.

Here are some of the takeaways that I gleaned from our excursion into the field.

It’s important to change your environment and break your routine in order to think creatively. At office jobs, five days a week we wake up at the same time, have the same caffeinated beverage, make the same commute, and sit in the same chair. It’s no wonder that it’s hard to improve the output of our work when all other variables remain relentlessly the same.

As I recently covered in a DorobekINSIDER post, sharing is caring. The PixelSense exhibit allowed us to share the documents that we found particularly interesting, and to use three words to share our reactions to our finding with other people at the table. It was a really useful exercise, and helped guide my own perusing to know what my colleagues found interesting as they discovered the documents beside me.

Talking to new people also helps you break out of your thinking rut. By having the chance to speak with people whom we don’t generally engage, we can make cross-departmental connections. Sure, happy hours or lunch outings are great for team bonding, but it’s also important to bring people together in a creative and fun, yet productive and work-oriented setting. On our field trip to the Archives, people from the design team could exchange ideas with people from the business team, whereas in the office those two departments are far from one another.

All in all, it reconnected us to our creative reserves and helped us focus on improving the quality of our work upon return to the office – definitely helping us do our job better.

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