According to a study completed by Harvard, creativity is 85% a learned skill – therefore, it can be improved upon. Why not start now?
Stay current with trends and going-ons in your particular field as well as other fields. To stay fresh and inspired it’s imperative to be familiar with what’s happening in the creative world.
WELCOME BAD IDEAS
Brilliance is a numbers game. Don’t be afraid to fail. Before finding my stride, I constantly worried that people would think my designs were bad. This blocked me in such an enormous way. Ditch the ego and realize that occasionally you will come up with some awful creations – and it’s okay!
Contradictory as it may seem, we self-edit in our desire to be original. This leads to unoriginal ideas. Don’t be afraid to come up with a few stinkers. So long as you are able to recognize the bad ideas from the good and are willing to put the time and effort in to improve the bad ideas. Welcome bad ideas – they will eventually guide you to the good ideas.
TAKE A BREAK
We have to give our brains the space to be creative. Stepping away from a problem will give your mind a break, allowing you to gain perspective. Focusing too intently on a problem basically uses up all of your cognitive resources. When you take a break from a problem that you’re stuck on and do something completely different, you forget the bad idea you were fixated on. It allows better ideas to bubble up to the surface.
RESEARCH THE HELL OUT OF IT
The more you know about the subject you’re working with, the more creative the solutions you’re able to produce.
HAVE A COCKTAIL
Rejoice! Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago found that a certain level of inebriation can help get the creative juices flowing. In the study, participants whose blood alcohol level (BAC) was slightly under .08 percent performed better in a creative task than did their sober counterparts. (The intoxicated group, however, underperformed when they were assigned memory tasks.) The researchers determined that a person’s “creative peak” is reached when the person hits a BAC of .075 percent. [source: Kate Bratskeir, Huffington Post]
It can enhance recall and activate neurological pathways, leading to new insights and cognitive breakthroughs. Innovators such as Henry Ford, Steve Jobs, and Leonardo DaVinci used doodling to jump-start their creativity.
NOTEBOOK & PEN
Keep a notebook and pen handy at all times. You will always be able to capture your ideas before they slip away. DaVinci did this – his notebooks are now prized possessions.
Get your mind working outside of its regular patterns.
Reading enhances mental ability and allows you experience the world from a new perspective.
Openness reflects how motivated you are to consider new ideas, concepts, and experiences. Research has shown that individuals with a wealth of adventures tend to be better divergent thinkers.
Change your environment.
CREATE THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT
Creativity flows from a state of feeling safe or secure. When you feel safe and secure you can take more risks. Creativity is intellectually risky – when you come up with new ideas, they can be wrong. When you try to implement new ideas, you can meet resistance. When you feel subtle threats like this, you feel you can’t make mistakes.
We fear the judgement of our peers. This causes us to be conservative in our thinking. Feeling comfortable is one of the factors that fosters a permissive environment for creative risks.
Everyone has the capacity for creativity, but what usually happens is that our imagination gets shut down in early childhood. For example, a 5-year old will paint the sky purple because she thinks it looks pretty, but if someone criticizes it or laughs, she will quickly learn to stop trusting and following her creative impulses. [source: David Goldstein, Creative You]
When we measure the creativity of young children, virtually all of them will record as being “highly creative.” Schools have crushed creativity. We were told to color within the lines. We were taught to follow instructions. The goal in school is to get the “right” answer. Unfortunately, if you’re afraid to be wrong, you’ll never be creative or original.
It promotes creative thinking, brain health and cognition. The reason, researchers believe, is that exercise stimulates blood flow to the brain and thus more critical oxygen reaches the muscle. Additionally, the endorphins produced from working out help sharpen concentration.
In addition to boosting creativity, meditation improves focus, patience, calmness, clarity, insight and perspective.
GAMES & PUZZLES
Not only do games allow you to take a break from the task at hand – ultimately improving your ability to problem-solve – they also boost your brain in a multitude of ways (e.g. memory, flexibility, creativity). Personally, I like Quarto and Tsuro — both games promote analytical thinking.
Additionally, Alternative Use Tests measure and sharpen creativity – and you can conduct your own in a cinch. (Example: How many uses for a paperclip can you think of in 3 minutes? How about a spoon? A brick?)