It’s difficult to think creatively when you’re tired and stressed. There are habits adopted by successfully creative people who treat their brain like a muscle. Clear, creative thinking comes with practice, discipline and conditioning to get you ‘brain fit’. The areas of your brain linked with creativity and critical thinking need to be exercised, fed and rested just like any muscle in your body.
To keep you at your creative peak, here are 7 ways to boost your creativity:
1. Schedule ‘food’ for your brain
Scheduled ‘brain food’ has a real effect on brain structure and function, it can rewire the brain for enhanced creativity by working it smarter not harder. A regular habit of short and targeted times for learning promotes new growth and connections in the brain (neuroplasticity).
Create healthy habits around your devices by scheduling dedicated time to focus on important news and developments in your field.
Master moderation with social media and other online distractions designed to keep you scrolling, shopping or buying.
Schedule time for twitter feeds, podcasts, trend spotting and periodicals.
Cherry pick the latest and greatest from around the world from favoured sources so you can get up to speed over your morning coffee or commute.
Have a source of challenging books and dedicate regular time to stimulating reading. See our blog post: Books to Read, for G2’s recommendations for stimulating reads.
2. Use Creativity Tools
A common point of frustration is getting ideas out of your head and onto paper - there is nothing like a large blank page to stifle creativity.
Doodles, charts and mind-maps with prompts and space to expand or link items can help document and develop ideas.
Our clients' creativity shines brighter when we provide ideation tools and stimuli. See our Design Thinking Guide for tools to stimulate ideation.
Creativity loves constraints. Time-boxed activities help you put ideas in a workable format while keeping the flow of ideation.
3. Give yourself time
Did you know the brain uses up 20% of our energy every day? An intense day at work (or home) and trying to be creative and generate new ideas (especially under pressure) can be exhausting.
Avoid mammoth brainstorming sessions or lengthy problem-solving meetings.
Limit idea-generation or problem-solving activities to short bursts so you can focus your energy more efficiently.
Schedule moments of ‘brain calm’ in the day - regular breaks away from your desk, lunchtime exercise, mindfulness or meditation.
Regular ‘brain calm’ practice will keep you at the top of your game.
4. Working with others
We are genetically hard-wired social, herding creatures. It’s a feature of human survival that more brains are better than one.
Plan time to work and share ideas with others in and out of your field.
This doesn’t have to be another scheduled meeting, we live and work in a global community - crowdsourcing and gig-economy websites connect you with users, experts and allow you to share ideas.
5. Practice Positive Psychology
Negative mood and pessimism can be hard to shift when you’ve had a challenging day and the traffic is bad. The practice of positivity and gratitude can cognitively shift your thinking.
Daily practices are known to rewire the brain and can change a pessimistic brain to an optimistic one.
Take five minutes each day - list three things you’re grateful for and spend two minutes recording a meaningful moment from the last 24 hours.
A state of gratitude and positivity is not only excellent for your mental health, it will give you the best opportunity to be playful with ideas, super charge your creativity and boost your capacity to work well with others.
6. Let your brain rest
Gaming Disorder (video game addiction) is now officially recognised by the World Health Organisation and it is thought that social media addiction is not far behind. The same science used to create addictive behaviour in gambling technology is used to design games, social platforms and apps – to keep you tapping that screen like a chicken pecking its food.
Let your brain rest, process the events from the day before and prepare for a day of god-smacking creativity.
Practice breaks from your device – an hour a day, a day a week and a week a month.
Get an alarm clock so you’re not reaching for your phone at the end and break of day.
Leave your devices to charge in another room at night.
Regular exercise changes the brain to improve memory and thinking skills. A 20-minute walk is enough, but any exercise will benefit your brain.
Take a walk on your lunch break, schedule a walking meeting, park your car a couple of kilometres away from work or get off the train, tram or bus a few stops before.
Now you’re armed with all the tips you need to boost your creativity to new levels, let us know how you and your team go at reaching the top of your creativity game.