It’s incredibly hard to think of new ideas when you feel tired and your work/home schedule is demanding, but have you noticed how the most creative people seem to be ‘switched on’ almost on command?
It’s not luck. There are habits of successfully creative people whereby they treat their brain like a muscle. Great thinking doesn’t come without practice and conditioning – you need to be ‘brain fit’. The areas of your brain linked with creativity and critical thinking need to be exercised, fed and relaxed just like any muscle in your body.
To keep you at your creative best, here are 5 simple brain hacks that will help you naturally condition your brain like a creative muscle:
1. Schedule ‘food’ for your brain
It’s not easy to control the brain stimulation that is around us every day. The daily hum of activity and demands of our time are greater than ever before – work, friends, family, social media, and 24-hour news feed on our smart phones. A constant sate of connection and excitement for our brains may not favour creativity.
Creative people create healthy habits of connectedness with their devices and schedule dedicated time to focus on important news and developments in their field. They master moderation with social media that is purely leisure and instead schedule time for twitter feeds, pod casts, trend spotting or reading headlines from online periodicals – they ‘cherry pick’ the latest and greatest around the world over their coffee in the morning or commute to work.
This type of scheduled ‘brain food’ has a real effect on brain structure and function. It can rewire the brain for enhanced creativity - by working the brain smarter not harder with a regular habit of short and targeted times for learning you can promote new growth and connections in the brain (neuroplasticity).
2. Use Creativity Tools
Once you've digested a range of stimulus, a common point of hesitation in the process of creativity is how to start getting the ideas out of your head and onto paper. Sometimes stopping to think about the best way to record or conceptualise an idea can be a distraction from a creative groove and derail the process.
Templates, charts and models with prompts and space for expanding or linking items can help to document and develop ideas. In fact, we find that our clients' creativity shines far brighter when we provide them with ideation tools and templates, than when they're given a blank canvas. After all creativity loves constraints, and such tools help you to put your ideas in a workable format while keeping the natural flow of ideation going.
3. Give yourself time
Did you know that the brain uses up 20% of our energy everyday? If you’re having a particularly intense day at work, or are trying hard to be ‘creative’ and generate new ideas, this can be exhausting. Creative people have two ways of resolving this exhaustion. Firstly, they try to avoid mammoth brainstorming sessions or lengthy problem solving meetings. Instead, they limit idea generation or problem solving activities to short bursts each day which allow them to focus their energy more efficiently.
Secondly, creative people find ways to have moments of ‘brain calm’ in their day. This isn’t just about stress relief and ‘time out’ from a busy workload. This is about being able to focus the brain. It is this characteristic that often sets apart creative people from others in meetings – their ability to ‘switch on’ and focus. Whether it’s getting out of desk at regular intervals, participating in lunchtime exercise or another hobby, regular practice at ‘brain calm’ will help you to stay at the top of your game.
4. Working with others
We are hard-wired to be communal and herding creatures for a reason. It is a feature of human survival that more brains are better than one! For that reason, plan for time to work effectively with others in and out of your field and share ideas.
Nevertheless, this doesn’t have to be another meeting scheduled in our day. We now live and work in a global community, and successful people utilise the benefits of this with their devices and technology by, for example, using crowdsourcing and gig-economy websites to connect with users, experts and share ideas.
5. Maintain a positive attitude
Negative mood and perspective can be hard to budge when your day is busy, challenging and the traffic is bad.
Look for the amusement and the good parts of your day. This may sound a bit like new-age woo, but the practice of positivity and gratitude can cognitively shift your thinking. Look for opportunities in your day to be playful or to have a good laugh. The endorphins and flood of feel-good hormones from smiling can lift your mood and stimulate your brain.
A state of happiness and good attitude will give you the very best opportunity to be playful with ideas, super charge your creativity and boost your capacity to work well with others.
If you'd like some help developing the creative thinking skills of your team or would like to understand more about how G2 Innovation can help you develop a sustainable Culture of Innovation, then please fill in your details below and we'll be in touch very soon: