What is your creative process? Are you aware of it? Creativity is one of those processes that seems to have a shroud of mystery around it. Some people demonstrate regularly creativity, while others search for creativity.
I believe creativity is a muscle; not a gift. I believe that everyone has the ability to be creative, however for many reasons they don’t believe this.
Start with one day. Rest your mind and turn off the television. Read a book instead. Clean up. Exercise.
Having said that, sometimes it’s tough to be creative. Sometimes you need a push. Just like working out, you’ve got to change things up to produce the best results. Here’s 10 tips to boost creativity.
1.) Workout (Everyday)
Exercise is a wonderful thing. The benefits are incredibly vast and extend beyond purely physical. From engaging in a brisk walk to a heart-pounding gym session, exercising relaxes the mind and allows you to think clearly. For me, the best ideas tend to come after exercising.
Get outside and get sweaty. But don’t do it just once – make regular exercise a habit. Exercise for 5 minutes a day, every day. That’s all. The cumulative benefits are incredible.
2.) Throw Out The Trash
I’m talking about television here. Facebook. Your social media addiction. Watching television has been linked to lower levels of creativity, as measured by the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking. And don’t even get me started on the amount of time wasted every day watching television. (Spoiler: an average of 5 hours per day).
Start with one day. Rest your mind and turn off the television. Read a book instead. Clean up. Exercise. You’ll be amazed how much time you gain from cutting out television. And the effect on your brain, stress level, and attitude will be extremely positive.
3.) Write Down Everything
Those with the best ideas are those who have had the most bad ideas. Get all of your bad ideas down. Make it a challenge to write down every bad idea you can think of. Whether it’s after 10, 20, or hundreds, I guarantee you’ll write down some good ones.
If you’re an audiophile like me, new music is one of the quickest ways to change mood and experience a genuine smile.
Keep a notepad with you at all times. Everybody seems to know this advice, but it’s rare that I see someone follow it. Whether it’s a moleskin or digital, keep something handy to jot your ideas down. How many times have you had a great idea and forgot it 5 minutes later?
4.) Download New Music
If you’re an audiophile like me, new music is one of the quickest ways to change mood and experience a genuine smile. Hearing things you’ve never heard before is an exercise in creativity itself. If you love pop music, give some indie rock a try. If you like country, try classical.
Two of the artists I found that drastically changed my perspectives are:
Mike Oldfield – itunes.com/mikeoldfield
Fela Kuti – itunes.com/felakuti
Probably the best long term habit you can make. Take a breather and shut everything out. I’m even going to tell you how to do it.
Sit upright; hands on your knees. Set a timer for 5 minutes and close your eyes. All the breathing you will be doing will be through your nose. Take a long, deep breath in. Hold it at the top. Breathe out slowly. Hold at the bottom. Repeat.
Don’t worry about any thoughts you may have that come up. Don’t try to do anything. You’ll notice that during the pauses, you will have no thoughts. Enjoy this! Try to commit to meditating every day. A few minutes a day is all you need.
6.) Do Something Different
The trick here is to be present when you do so. Take a new route to work. Try a new exercise routine. Go to a new coffee shop. Pick up the old guitar. Whatever it is, do something outside your normal routine. And don’t do it with your mind focused on the million different problems you may have. Stay focused; focus is a form of meditation.
7.) Create Something
Creating something inherently uses creativity. Be visual. I’m a writer, so whenever I have a problem with writing, I turn to the drawing board. I can’t draw at all, but I love to mindmap. Trying to improve your business plan? Instead of adding another 5 pages of text, make the whole thing a one page picture. Try and demonstrate your value proposition in a drawing. If it’s too complex, maybe it’s time to make some changes.
Of all the teachers I’ve had in school, there are few that I remember. Those that do stand out have had an important influence on my life. One of mine was Lauren Rielly-Mcdougall of Lozenger. She taught me this business plan drawing. Try it out!
Explore your own backyard. Go to the coast or the mountains. Cross the border. Get on a plane. Buckle up.
8.) List Things You’ve Always Wanted To Try – And Do One
Whether it’s dropping in on a salsa dancing class, taking a creative writing course, learning how to program computers, windsurfing, or taking music lessons; learning a new skill is a great way to widen your perspective. Can’t decide? Roll the dice. Just go and do it.
9.) Pose Your Problem To A Child
If it’s a complex problem, simplify it so a child can understand. Play with blocks to demonstrate. Give them creative reign. They may see things so obvious you don’t. Laugh. I’m constantly surprised at the connections my 5 year old niece can make. Don’t underestimate children.
This doesn’t have to be far away. Doesn’t it seem odd that visitors seem to know more about your home than you do? Explore your own backyard. Go to the coast or the mountains. Cross the border. Get on a plane. Buckle up.
Above All, Make A Change
All this advice has one common element – to ‘get out of your way;’ do something different. Staying in the same routine will make breaking out of the rut that much more difficult. Creativity is a muscle. You may never have the ability to paint like Picasso or write like Hemingway, but you can increase your creative output.
And remember that creativity requires practice like any other skill. Whatever your art may be, make time for it. The above tips will help you increase your creative output, but it’s the day in, day out, hours spent honing your craft that will predate true breakthrough.
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