Sunday, August 7, 2011 Post By: Grayne Wetzky

How to improve creativity

No matter what you do creativity is a great asset. Most people think that creativity belongs to the realm of artists and entertainers, but nothing could be further from the truth. No matter what you do, the power to think creatively will help you succeed.

Another common misconception about creativity is that it is something you are born with. People tend to think that they are stuck with the level of creativity they already have. In reality creativity is a skill that can be learned just like any other skill. Improving your creativity will have huge benefits both in your professional and your personal life.

Try some of these tips on how to rev up your creative thinking process.

Change it up
As we grow older we tend to get set in our ways. Life falls into a routine were we do pretty much the same things over and over. Routines are important, but there is still room to mix things up and stimulate your brain. It can be as simple as listening to music that you don't normally listen to or read a book or magazine that is outside your usual sphere of interest. The new impulses will trigger ideas and creative thinking.

You can expand this concept to food as well. Make it a point to try new dishes and ingredients. Cooking your own food will also boost creativity. Different dishes and ingredients will be interesting sensations in itself, but food is also a powerful gateway to explore different cultures.

Do creative exercises
Creativity is a skill and just like any other skill you have to practice it to get better. There are several practical things you can do to boost your creativity. One of my favorite ways is to pick an everyday object and write down as many possible uses for that object as you can. Give yourself five minutes to write as many things as you can possibly think of. It doesn't matter if the applications are silly, impractical or nonsensical. The important thing is to train the mind to see the object from as many angles as possible.

Another variation of this excessive is to think of something that is considered impossible. An example could be how to replace all banks in the next 5 years. The analytical mind will say it's impossible and even impracticable, ignore this part of your mind and try to come up with ways this could be done. Forget all the reasons why it can't be done and focus on how you would do it.

Change your environment
Part of our everyday routine is that we do our regular tasks in the same place day in and day out. This familiarity numbs the brain. A couple of times a week make it a point to do a regular task in a new location. Write your blog post at the library or in the back yard, look over the latest meeting minutes in the park by the office, eat your lunch on the roof. The change of scenery will stimulate your thinking. As an added bonus, it is a creative thinking challenge to try to come up with new places to do routine tasks.

One particularly powerful tip for people who do their work on a computer is to go to a place without wifi. Without internet access you will have to work offline, but you will also not be distracted by email, constant web browsing 'research' breaks, instant messages or Facebook. The improved focus on your work will translate into improved creativity.

Get in shape
"A sound mind in a sound body". Our minds and our bodies are not disconnected. One will always affect the other. By getting enough sleep, eating healthy and getting enough exercise you will feel better. When we feel good our minds are sharper and ideas flow easier.

Try a new hobby
By the time we grow up we have usually decided what things we are good at and what things we have a harder time with. We then go on to focus on attention on activities that we are already good at. The problem with this is that we tend to stagnate when we don't push ourselves. To give your creativity a boost, sign up for a course in something that you are interested in but have never tried. Try your feet at a dance class, or take cooking lessons. Maybe you've always wanted to play an instrument? Learning new skills will make your life richer and help you see situations and problems in new light.

I am a big fan of meditation. In my experience meditation has immediate health and mental benefits. Meditation clears the clutter from our minds and helps us think clearly. With a focused and decluttered mind creative thinking becomes much easier. Great ideas can often form in the mind in the middle of a meditation session, but I find that the reduced stress and improved clarity that meditation brings is the biggest contributor to improved creativity.

Creativity basically boils down to the ability to see things from many different angles. This kind of thinking allows us to solve problems that might seem impossible if only considered in one set way. It helps us draw connections between seemingly unrelated events and new and better ways of doing things. Creativity is a powerful tool in the workplace, but it is also the very spice of life. It is a universal human trait to make things and improve and beautify objects and our surroundings. When we focus our energy on creative processes, we are happier and more satisfied with our lives.

  1. Thanks for writing this great blog post. Some great tips in there. I really like your point about mixing things up to stimulate your mind. I'm a great believer in Serendipity. I usually have 50-60 books on my bookshelf at any given time. I have all my titles in a spreadsheet and I use a random number generator to decide what the next book I'm going to read is.

  1. @Frank Bradley Thank you for the great comment!

    I've never heard of your random book method before, but that is a brilliant idea. I am tempted to copy your system.

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