It doesn’t matter whether you’re an artist or a businessperson, we all require a little creative thinking in our work. If you find you’re getting stuck, here are some of the best ways to get those creative juices flowing again.
Photo by Drew Coffman.
10. Plan Ahead
Just because you’re being creative doesn’t mean you can skip out on the organisation part of being productive. Making plan ahead of time can help you avoid creative plateaus, and waiting to judge your ideas after you finish them can keep you from exploring more alogical ideas. Creativity won’t strike you on cue, but a simple mind map and a bit of creative focus can go a long way.
9. Set Some Weird Rules
While we’ve been hammered with certain guidelines for running businesses and doing good work, to encourage creativity you sometimes need to set some weirder rules. Reward failure, but punish inaction. Create some conflict. Think contrary to what you usually hear, and mix things up to get your mind thinking in new ways. Photo by Hararca.
8. Think Inside The Box
All your life you’ve probably heard “think outside the box”. It’s a bit more complicated than that, though—instead of thinking completely differently (which is not only hard, but ignores the principles we’ve found to work), think inside the box and build on those already-useful ideas in new ways. Christopher Peterson said it best: “If you never venture outside the box, you will probably not be creative. But if you never get inside the box, you will certainly be stupid.” Photo by Ronit Slyper.
7. Don’t Stress About Being Truly Original
If you reject anything out of a desire for true originality, you’ll never get anywhere. It’s all been done before, and the key isn’t coming up with a truly original idea, it’s knowing what to steal from other artists and how to make it new and interesting.
6. Stay Motivated With Side Projects
If you focus too hard on one project at a time, you’re bound to get stuck in a creative block, or at least a spell of low motivation. “Distracting” yourself with other, smaller projects gets you away from your big project while keeping you productive and creative. When you’re done with one of those, you’ll come back to your big project with a new mindset and renewed enthusiasm. Photo by Marcin Wichary.
5. Change Up Your Morning Routine
There’s a reason some of the most creative people are known to be smelly and unkempt. While we aren’t about to tell you to ditch hygiene altogether, sometimes switching up your morning routine can give you a creative head start you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. Try getting up in the morning and jumping right into your work—you may have some creative moments you hadn’t experienced after a shower, getting dressed, and so on. Photo by Chaos Manor Reviews.
4. Get Some Exercise
A change of scenery is always a good idea to get a burst of creativity, but a good 30 minutes of exercise will actually boost your creativity. In fact, it boosts nearly every dimension of cognition, so exercise regularly to get your blood (and creative juices) flowing. Photo by eduardomineo.[imgclear]
3. Stop Working Mid-Thought
If you find that you start some days with no idea where your project is going next, consider when you stop working the day before. Instead of looking for logical breaking points, always know what’s coming next—that way, when you start up the next day, you can build up a bit of creative momentum before moving on to the new stuff.
2. Get Some Sleep
We all know how great sleep can be for your health, but it’s good for your creative brain too. A Harvard researcher found that if you sleep on new ideas, you’re a good deal more likely to make connections between distantly related points. If you’re on a streak, there’s nothing wrong with burning the midnight oil once in a while, but don’t neglect regular, quality sleep if you want to keep that streak going. Photo by Deeleea.
1. Know When To Take Time Off
We can’t all be creative 100% of the time, so don’t burn yourself out by working 24/7/365. Designer Stefan Sagmeister actually takes a year-long creative sabbatical every seven years to rejuvenate his creativity. That’s obviously not in the cards for everyone, but do as much as you can—even a little afternoon daydreaming can go a long way. Photo by Kr. B.
Everyone’s got their own tricks for fostering creativity (in fact, you’ve shared some of yours with us before), but if you’ve got any favourites that didn’t make the list, tell us about them in the comments. And, be sure to check out tips from some of the world’s creative geniuses, too.