By Kelsey Casselbury 2016-04-05 06:18:13
Seek out inspiration to turn your school nutrition operation from a business bound by regulations and reviews into one of imagination and ideas. From administrative reviews to exacting regulations, from endless paperwork to budget cutbacks, school nutrition might not seem like an environment where creativity flourishes. Sure, some of you periodically fashion a display board or construct a holiday promotion, but the business of producing school meals simply isn’t set up to be a creative place…or is it ? Simply put, you and your team might be suffering from a lack of inspiration. Have you ever read a book or a magazine article on decluttering, and then immediately headed to your closet to begin tossing out old clothes? Those ideas were your jumpstart to organization. Perhaps this issue of School Nutrition can be what motivates you and your colleagues to begin fostering more creativity in your workplace. It’s not only about adjusting your attitude, though. To be creative, you need to be immersed in a world that supports this venture. The media you consume, from podcasts to websites, has a major influence on your creativity, as can the environment surrounding you. Do you feel that inspiration peeking out from behind your self-doubt, intrigued by the possibilities? Read on. A Creative Environment What influences creativity? As it turns out, much more than you may realize. Colors If you’re thinking about a cafeteria makeover or refreshing the paint in the district office, consider a color other than beige. Through intensely bright, orange is said to boost creative performance, while green promotes creative thinking. Even a bright white, when used in a naturally lit, airy room, can bolster the imagination. If you can only paint one room, consider the one in which you do most of your brainstorming. Music It was once thought that classical music improved a person’s reasoning and productivity, but that theory has since been debunked—kind of. It turns out that any music is better for higher brain function than silence. So, if you like country, turn up the twang to do some creative thinking. Or a little pop music may find fresh ideas popping up right and left! Just keep it around “background noise” level, or about 70 decibels— about as loud as a washing machine. Food We might give the side eye to the theory that food can increase creativity, but it’s worth a shot, right? Particularly when that food is chocolate! A study from 2007 noted that eating chocolate could boost short-term brain function. Additionally, carbohydrate-rich foods deliver glucose to the brain, which improves cognitive stimulation. So, go ahead and eat that oatmeal before work; it will only boost your creative powers! Consuming Creativity There’s a vast world of resources out there to inspire you, spark your imagination and keep you motivated to put your plans into action. Here are a few favorites: 3 TED TALKS TO INSPIRE YOU If you’ve yet to listen to a TED Talk—or even know what it is—consider this your lucky day! TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a nonprofit devoted to spreading empowering ideas through short (usually 15-20 minutes), powerful talks. Check out these three that SN finds worth watching in the spirit of creativity: “You’re a Lot More Creative Than You Think You Are” Who Gave It: John Paul Caponigro, internationally renowned fine artist Where to Find It: http://tedxtalks.ted.com The Gist: Creativity is for everyone, but how do you celebrate and nurture that throughout your life? Soundbite: “People are born creative. The human being is a creative species. Have you ever seen a kid who isn’t creative? … How does that get covered over in our quest for maturing and specializing?” “My Year of Saying Yes to Everything” Who Gave It: Shonda Rhimes, creator of “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal” and “How to Get Away with Murder” Where to Find It: www.ted.com/talks The Gist: The fear of saying “yes” can dampen the creative spirit. If your natural inclination is to say “no,” learn how changing the answer saved Shonda Rhimes’ career and could change yours for the better. Soundbite: “It’s amazing the power of one word. ‘Yes’ changed my life. ‘Yes’ changed me.” “How to Manage for Collective Creativity” Who Gave It: Linda Hill, Harvard professor and co-author of “Creative Genius” Where to Find It: www.ted.com/talks The Gist: Creativity and innovation comes from everyone in an organization, not just the people who have been deemed “the creatives.” Soundbite: “Innovation is not about solo genius. It’s about collective genius.” Consuming Creativity Now that you have the inspiration, it’s time to find the ideas. And, heaven knows, the Internet is rife with ideas! Find some on these creativity-sparking sites: 4 WEBSITES TO SPARK YOUR IMAGINATION Instructables Where to Find It: www.instructables.com The Gist: Have you been wanting to learn how to carve food art to tempt students into giving a new produce item a try? Maybe you’d like to construct a pirate ship out of cardboard for a holiday promotion? Fix a hole in your jeans because…well, it needs to be fixed? Let Instructables, which has thousands of tutorials for creating, organizing, building, cooking and more, set your ideas in motion. Pinterest Where to Find It: www.pinterest.com The Gist: This is the place to find inspiration for projects that you didn’t even know were possible (or to save the ideas you found elsewhere for future reference). Spend an hour falling down the rabbit hole that is Pinterest, and you’ll come out with so many creative ideas that you won’t even know which one to tackle first. Food Gawker Where to Find It: www.foodgawker.com The Gist: If you went into school nutrition because food is near and dear to your heart, then Food Gawker will get you dreaming. Not only can you find inspiration for cooking, but the beautifully photographed dishes can inspire you to learn more about food photography and how to take a carefully composed shot that you can share on social media. YouTube Where to Find It: www.youtube.com The Gist: YouTube certainly isn’t a novelty for most web surfers, but you might be surprised as to what’s actually available on the video site. Not only are there a significant number of cute cat videos, but you also can find cooking lessons, food photography tutorials, marketing 101 lectures, social media presentations and a whole host of the aforementioned TED Talks on the very subject of creativity. “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” —Sylvia Plath Consuming Creativity What’s the good in being inspired and imaginative if you don’t put the ideas into action? As the saying goes, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” Download an application or two on your smartphone that will keep your creative ideas in check and moving forward, such as: 5 APPS TO MOTIVATE YOU Remember the Milk Available on: Google Play, iTunes, BlackBerry World, Amazon Apps, web browsers The Gist: Does your new project have multiple steps? Get your to-do list out of your head and into your smartphone or tablet. This app reminds you of high-priority tasks via notifications, emails or texts, and allows you to share lists with others. Unstuck Available on: iTunes, Google Play, web browsers The Gist: Unstuck guides you through an assessment of how you feel about a current workplace challenge that seems to have stalled. (Are you easily distracted or do you not completely understand the task?). After it “diagnoses” the problem, it then gives you quick tips on how to regain momentum. Coach.Me Available on: iTunes, Google Play The Gist: This resource might be more motivational in your personal life, but it can be applied to professional success, as well! Consider this app your personal coach, whether you’re aiming to be more productive, get out bed earlier, prepare for upcoming difficult conversations or quit a bad habit. Join a challenge, and enjoy the support of thousands of other users when you check off your daily goals. DailyQuote Available on: iTunes The Gist: Start your day with a jolt of motivation via quotes from those far wiser than most of us. Similar apps from the same company (Ultabit, LLC) offer up daily quotes specific to such themes as love, fitness, yoga or running. Nearly identical apps can be found for Android phones on Google Play, such as Brilliant Quotes. Pomodroido Available on: Google Play The Gist: A simple yet effective timer that promotes the philosophy that it’s best to work in short, focused, timed bursts, followed by relaxation breaks. Tap the app to set the work session, and it will alert you when to take a break. For a similar app for iOS, check out Timer in the iTunes store. “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” — Maya Angelou Consuming Creativity Is a long commute dampening your spirit? Download this podcast to feed your mind while driving or tackling other mundane activites: BONUS: 1 PODCAST TO KEEP YOU DRIVEN Happier with Gretchen Rubin Where to Listen: iOS Podcasts App, Android podcast app, www.gretchenrubin.com/podcast The Gist: This weekly podcast, hosted by Gretchen Rubin, author of “The Happiness Project” and “Better than Before,” and her sister, Elizabeth Craft, delves into how good habits lead to a happier life, while bad habits detract from your happiness. Podcast #22 is specifically themed toward creativity. Rubin’s website, www.gretchenrubin.com, also features a number of creativity-themed blog posts that offer tips, exercises and ideas for boosting creativity. “Creativity is contagious. Pass it on.” —Albert Einstein BONUS WEB CONTENT Not all people are creative in the same ways. Learn about the eight different types of creative minds and how each one brings something important to the table. Visit www.schoolnutrition.org/snmagazinebonuscontent. Kelsey Casselbury is the managing editor of School Nutrition. Illustrations by www.iStockphoto.com.
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