creativity tips

creativity tips


Susan Meier Hamilton identifies the need for solitude and how to find it in a noisy world.

Once upon a time, I spent 8 hours a day completely alone, working from home. I am an introvert who needs solitude to recharge my batteries and focus, and I enjoyed that. These days, the vast majority of my time is spent in the company of 4 other people who are, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, also now working from home.

It’s been an adjustment.

Of course, togetherness is good. But creativity experts and academic researchers agree that some amount of solitude is one of the key prerequisites for creative productivity.

I’ve developed some quirky hacks. Sometimes I work in the bathroom, because it has a door that locks. (It’s a large bathroom, so this is not as gross as it sounds.) I use my devices to create virtual boundaries – it turns out the very presence of earbuds is enough to deter all but the most tenacious of supplicants. Never mind that I can’t concentrate if I listen to music while I work. No one but me knows there is nothing streaming into my ears.

Solitude is really about autonomy. Autonomy is a particularly important precondition for creativity, because creativity is all about being independent in one’s thoughts and actions – even when we’re collaborating.

The quest for quiet is not unique to remote work in a pandemic, nor is it limited to introverts. Businesspeople of all kinds in all work settings often lack the solitude and autonomy necessary to think creatively. Interruptions from phones, meetings, and live humans continually impede the free flow of ideas.

In one large pre-pandemic study, 60% of people said they were most creative in private environments – calling into question all those open office plans. And let’s not confuse ‘solitude’ with ‘solitary.’ 30% of those who preferred private spaces said they were highly collaborative there.

You may not want to lock yourself in a bathroom or fake an obsession with Spotify. I get it. Here are some other ideas for how to find the solitude you need:


Key points include:

  • Finding privacy
  • Taking time out to “hear” ideas
  • The creative benefits of relaxation


Read the full article, Searching for Solitude, on


Umbrex is pleased to welcome Janet Bumpas. Janet Bumpas comes from Silicon Valley where she was part of three startups. She loves all aspects of growing an idea through launch and then building it in the marketplace. Usually, she focuses on product, working with customers to understand their needs and translates these into a product. Currently, she lives in the Netherlands where she works both with large companies and entrepreneurs helping them to launch and scale businesses. She has run accelerator programs for entrepreneurs and intrapraneurs and really enjoys both working with teams and facilitating larger group workshops.

Janet has also consulted many of the world’s leading organizations on growth and profitability strategies.  After receiving her MBA from The Harvard Business School, she worked at BCG. She later worked at Razorfish as a Senior Strategist where she advised corporate clients on how to profitably use the Internet to further their corporate goals. Finally, Janet has extensive experience in international development (World Health Organization, the World Bank, TechnoServe, and as a consultant to several other international development organizations).

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Tegan Blaine with Blue Cairn. Dr. Tegan Blaine is founder and principal of Blue Cairn Group, which specializes in consulting around climate change leadership and action.  She has over 20 years of experience in climate science, policy, and international development, most recently serving as a vice president on a climate change initiative at the National Geographic Society.  She also led the climate change team in USAID’s Bureau for Africa for over a decade, where she developed USAID’s strategy and investment plan for its climate change work in Africa, and built and led a team that provided thought leadership and technical support to USAID missions in Africa.  Before USAID, Tegan worked on climate change and international development at McKinsey & Company; served as a policy advisor on water at the U.S. Department of State; and taught math and physics as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania.

Tegan is happy to collaborate on projects focused on climate change or sustainability, both internationally and domestically.