As children we spent our days imagining we were superheroes destined to save the planet with our special powers, or planning how to build spaceships to Mars. The world was filled with infinite possibilities and no problem was too grand we couldn’t solve it with a little ingenuity and a whole lot of imagination.
Somewhere along the line, however, we lost that precious ability to think creatively. And now – in today’s turbulent global marketplace where to stagnate is to die – we need it back.
#1 Kick-start your imagination
The first step to reclaiming your creativity is to change something simple, but quirky in your routine. Start keeping a diary, read an escapist novel or sing your heart out to the radio when you’re stuck in traffic – anything to get you out of your creative rut.
#2 Accept creativity is a skill and not a talent
Creativity isn’t as easy as some make it look. As long as you understand it’s just like any other skill you can build with hard work, you can’t go wrong.
Start with something small. Why not pick two random news stories and see if you can fit them together? The more bizarre, or tenuous the link is, the better. Repeat. Brainstorming with others – especially those coming from different perspectives – is another good way to get unconventional thoughts flowing.
#4 Ditch your comfort zone
Make the effort to approach problems and challenges from different angles. Beginning from a different perspective will force your brain to develop creative new problem solving strategies.
#5 Get a kid’s perspective
Children are far more in touch with their imagination than adults, so why not use that to your advantage by asking their ideas on some of the issues or challenges you face? Their surprising and wildly innovative – if often unpractical – views should send your mind off in tangents you never dreamed of.
Get up off your backside and start walking. The exercise will not only make you feel more alert and open-minded, it will help get the blood and creative juices flowing.
A tired brain is almost completely incapable of making the intuitive leaps essential for creative thinking and will default to things it can do by rote.
Allowing your hand free reign to roam actually helps relaxes the brain’s normal rigid controls making it far easier to think outside the square. Humour also works in much the same way.
#9 Embrace your quirks
Some of the most intelligent and creative people in history have also been some of the weirdest. Ben Franklin stood naked in front of an open window for 30 minutes every day, Edgar Allan Poe called his cat his “literary guardian”, while Stephen King is adamantly anti-adverbs.
#10 Chill Out
Take a leaf out of Google’s book and try allocating a small part of each day to developing side projects outside of your normal scope.
- Change something small, but quirky in your routine to kick-start your creativity.
- Creative thinking is a skill and not talent, so it can be learnt.
- Children are great for helping to reinspire your imagination.
- Like any skill, practicing creative thinking makes perfect.
How do you get your creative flair going at work? Share your experiences below.
This article originally appeared on The Naked CEO.