Creative Days: our secret to escaping the daily routine
This is a follow-up on a blog post we published seven years ago. Over half a decade later the concept of a Creative Day is still very much alive and remains one of the pillars of our company culture. But just like how Yummygum has grown and evolved, so has the way we go about a Creative Day.
What is a Creative Day anyway?
At this point you’re probably wondering what a Creative Day is in the first place. First off it’s important to understand how it’s subtly different from any other team (building) event. Allow me to explain.
A Creative Day is an event that allows our entire team to rewire their creative thinking and try new things without having to think about things like ongoing projects, deadlines and external opinions. It’s about doing something you usually don’t get around to experimenting with. It’s about breaking away from the everyday project routine. Something that we can wholeheartedly recommend to anyone regardless of what their job entails. One might even argue it’s actually vital in order to keep the creative juices flowing within a digital agency. Here’s why.
Being a digital agency we have the honor to work with some of the brightest minds in the tech industry and beyond, and call them our clients. Together with them we can make miracles happen. Doing so involves tight deadlines, focused work and a lot of fun. And just like if you work out your body, the mind can also benefit from deloading every once in a while. Just so you can get back at it. Only better, stronger, faster than last time.
Okay, but what should you do on a Creative Day?
A Creative Day is beneficial for any type of team. But how do you find out ‘what’ to do during a Creative Day? Well, from my experience, our developers and designers love working on tasks like these:
Create a super simple Raycast extension
Make a Blender 3d model interactive using ThreeJS
Animate a .svg illustration using code
For UX Designers:
Craft a real life prototype for a fictional digital product
Create a persona based on one of your team mates
Practice with new ways to conduct a creative session
For Visual Designers:
Design an icon set of 15 icons in a style you’re unfamiliar with
Refactor a Figma component to be as efficient/clean as possible
Design a fictional web page using a style that is new and trendy
For Brand Designers:
Create 6 vector patterns in a tool you’re not familiar with
Take 3 well known logos and create a simplified versions of them
Come up with new client exercises to gather brand project input
Acing your team’s first Creative Day
If you’re intrigued by the idea of organizing your own Creative Day there are some pointers that will help you ace your very first edition.
Come with a plan beforehand
On the Creative Day you’ll want (everyone) to start right away. Avoid having to deal with an unnecessary ramp up on the day itself and have everyone come up with something to do or take on beforehand. Check in with your team at least weeks before the Creative Day takes place. Or even better; shortlist possible ventures for people on your team so they have something to fall back on if they can’t think of something themselves right away.
‘Theme’ it like you mean it
Most people on our team usually have a pretty good idea of what they want to work on during a Creative Day. A developer might challenge herself to create a very basic screen of a macOS in Swift. A designer might want to design an Android app interface. But coming up with the purpose of the macOS app or the contents of the Android interface is a whole ‘nother thing. Dictating a not too broad theme will help stir the ideas in the right direction. A few of the themes we’ve had during Creative Days were plants, racecars, water and donuts.
Tiny goals make great deliverables
Work in sub teams
On the same note of making tiny goals, tackle overly large ambitions by creating smaller teams of two to three people. They will most likely inspire one another and even better; work simultaneously to have an actual deliverable by the time.
Order in lunch for the creative munch
Take a moment to enjoy a nice lunch together. A perfect moment to wind down and talk and bond with your team mates. Order something special for lunch. Heck, why not lean into the theme of your Creative Day with your lunch gives it that little bit of extra yum.
Share progress throughout the day
Have everyone stay and keep each other in the loop by having a few designated moments to share progress. Any feedback or suggestions that might arise can be taken into account. But perhaps more importantly it’s a great way to gatekeep the scope of the Creative Day projects everyone is working on. Chances are the initial scope was a little too big after all. Checking in early helps you to reassess whether the final deliverable is still within reach.
Share the results
Encourage people to have something presentable by the end of the day. Wrap up the day with a dedicated moment for everyone to share their results. This puts extra emphasis on working towards something share-worthy. On top of that no unfinished projects are left lingering in someone’s mind.
All in all; Creative Day are vital to teams, especially creative ones. Here’s why again:
Learn a new skill or improve your current skillset
Experiment with things you wouldn't usually get around to
Break away from the daily routine
Bond as a team
Inspire yourself and your team
Deload to get back at it, better, stronger and faster next time