Thursday, July 14, 2011

Finding Creative Joy in Every Day Tasks

Today we had to make a huge order of sub sandwiches at work. They were at least a foot long, and each one had to be cut into 6 pieces. At first the manager wanted to wrap them (in plastic wrap) like we usually do, but I pointed out that there was no way I could wrap them once they were cut into pieces. I decided to use little toothpicks to hold them together, cut them, and arrange them onto platters.

I realized there were several different types of sandwiches: some were ham, turkey, and roast beef, some were all ham, some were all turkey, and some were all roast beef (my apologies to the vegetarians out there). Since we had several different colors of toothpicks, I assigned each type of sandwich one color so that once they were sliced they could be identified.

I thought this was pretty ingenious. I know how many meetings, conferences, and general gatherings I have been to where the food is just kind of thrown together, and you aren't sure what you are getting. People spend more time touching, picking through, and even smelling the items (yes, I've seen this) than they do paying attention to the presentation or networking. Then you see Mr. Mayonnaise Fingers going around  touching everything, licking his fingers, and touching everything again. Even if you try to beat him to the food, you may not get something you want because you couldn't identify it quickly enough. Admit it - you have rushed ahead and grabbed something when someone with less than stellar hygiene was headed towards the buffet.

My manager rolled his eyes and said I was "weird" and that no one would notice. But is that why I did it? No, I didn't exactly expect kudos. I thought ahead, put myself in other people's shoes, and realized that I could possibly help out - and it wouldn't even cause me any inconvenience. Plus, I found a certain creative outlet in the monotony of my day.

From color-coding toothpicks to putting mustard on a sandwich in the shape of a heart, what creative outlets do you take advantage of in every day simple tasks? Or what ones are passing you by? It may only take a few extra moments to slow down, have fun, and do something playful to let your creativity shine. Whether or not anyone else notices, finding ways to be express yourself will nourish your soul and bring you a lot of joy. Even if you are only making sub sandwiches.

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