What have you done lately to enhance your creativity? Are you able to practise your favourite craft as often as you would like to? When was the last time you picked up a new skill or pushed past your comfort zone?
There are a million and one ways to give your creativity a good boost. And it doesn’t always need to be a big production; in fact, here are 10 little things you can do to jolt yourself into a state of flow.
#1 Find Your Creative Place
Carve out a time and pick a spot for yourself where you can let go of your worries and just start making. You have to set the right mood, for letting out all that creative energy like no one’s watching, as they say.
Is your room in dire need of cleaning? Clean it. Is your desk all cluttered and messy? Put your things in order. While you’re at it, you can also place things in sight that will motivate or inspire you. This could be an artwork you’ve always loved or something similar.
#2 Practise the Two-Minute Rule
The Two-Minute Rule means that any task that can be done in under two minutes should be completed immediately. Whether it means replying to an email, re-organising your files or setting up your palette and canvas, there’s no excuse for not getting it done as soon as possible.
#3 Start Small
Start doing work in chunks. It could be an outline of an essay you’re trying to write or a bullet points for your next speech or presentation. Once you’re satisfied with that, expand your list and let inspiration do the rest.
#4 Give an Incorrect Answer to a Question
Sometimes, creativity can strike unexpectedly. Flex your brain by thinking of the “wrong” answers to question, or the “worst” possible solutions to a problem. This will allow you to cook up some far-out concepts you’d never have imagined, if you were thinking straight. This facilitates out-of-the-box thinking and ultimately, enhances your imagination.
#5 Set a Timeframe
Sometimes, working on a project aimlessly will lead you nowhere, especially if it’s a large project that requires much time and effort. Creating a timeframe will help you plan out your exact course of action for the day.
For instance, you can plan to start a draft from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM, and then proceed to fleshing out the details within the next three hours, and so on. When you’re on the clock, you’re compelled to finish your work within a given time period.
#6 Write with a Pen
Perhaps not the most obvious tip, but a helpful one nonetheless: In their book The Creativity Cure, Carrie Barron and Alton Barron advised that foregoing the use of a computer and picking up a pen and paper instead can help inspire your creativity. With this old-school setup, new ideas can come from doodling, straight-up writing, process mapping, and so on. And when your mind opens like that, there are no limits!
#7 Put on Music
A recent study reveals that playing music in the background as you go about your work can open the floodgates of your creativity. They found that, regardless of whether or not the subject listeners liked the music that the researchers played, it increased “performance on overall divergent thinking”.
Even a quick 10-minute exercise routine can work wonders! While a trip to the gym may not be everyone’s favourite thing to do, physical activity is an almost surefire way to expand a person’s creative faculties. In fact, a biotechnology study determined that exercise does help prevent mental fog and fatigue. Moreover, “physical activity is associated with improved affective experience and enhanced cognitive processing.” Is this what they mean by “sound body, sound mind”?
#9 Go Outdoors
If you took #8 to heart, won’t you give yourself a break and stretch out? Not only is this physically healthy; it also helps clarify your thoughts and declutter your brain for the next set of tasks you’ll be doing.
Step out of the house and get a coffee with a mate. Or take a 10-minute stroll around the neighbourhood. Or maybe just sit in your garden as you scroll through Facebook. Whatever floats your boat.
But don’t overdo it! Taking breaks for way too long can lead to procrastination, which may then disrupt your process and sidetrack you altogether. Alan Cohen, a prolific author, once wrote that “There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.”
#10 Finally, Don’t Hesitate to Ask for Advice
If you’re not sure of what to do to progress your project, consider asking someone for advice or feedback. This can be an expert, a senior co-worker, a customer, or even your friends. Hear what they have to say and give their suggestions a try. They might surprise you!
An outsider’s insights are always useful; they can find your blind spot and offer you a sneak peek at a side of you that you can’t see. But how about negative feedback, you might ask. We suggest, hear them out, even if what they say may not necessarily be what you want to hear. Take it in and find any merit in the criticism. How else will you become better at what you do?