This is a bit of a departure for me – I usually write about interactions between people, not creativity -but sometimes we need give ourselves a bit of a talking to; we get stale, stuck or just need to find a fresh approach.
I love running courses on creativity and generating ideas, especially seeing participants explore new ways of thinking. I wrote this in response to something I read about ideas to promote creativity, and wanted to add my own thoughts. Then I decided to take my own advice and play with it – it’s still a work in progress, but it was fun to do. Enjoy!*This was later developed into a slideshare: 28 ways to shift your brain.
The text is reproduced below the graphic.
33 Ways to Grow Your Creativity
Seek opinions from people who are not like you.
Do things in a different order.
Question the things you do routinely.Do you really still need to do them?
Use coloured and different fonts to reflect your mood on your own notes
Feed all your senses: Smells can evoke memories and emotions. Herbs, lavender, spices… allow yourself to savour the aroma
Use your eyes to stimulate your brain. Look at art and try to work out what drove the artist
Listen to different music. If you don’t get it, discuss it with someone who does.
Listen to TED talks on subjects outside your usual range
Know your own comfort zones and work out how to stretch them
Notice nature, close up.
Use spidergrams and brainstorming to get your thoughts down
Don’t judge your ideas until you’ve generated as many as you can.
Stretch your creative muscles regularly by playing games like ‘what else could you do with this object?’ Or making up stories to stretch your imagination – preferably with others, because other people’s minds are fascinating and different from yours.
Cook something different, using new ingredients.
Make a Vision Board to remind yourself of the things that inspire you.
Always generate a few options before making a decision.
Don’t always take the safe option. Seek out all manner of new experiences, even if it’s only using a different shop.
Learn to name your emotions as accurately as you can, then explore why you are feeling them – this can help find the blockages.
If you are writing or painting, don’t stop when you reach the end of the chapter or section – this means you will be faced with a blank page or canvas when you return. Start on the next part, even if it is minimal – it will make it easier to return to it. Also, if you get writer’s block, or hit a section you can’t put into words, write a bit of drivel, put the font into a different colour, then carry on regardless. When the words come to you, go back and fill the gaps.
Learn about personality traits. (E.g the Big Five). Once you understand your own traits, you can stretch yourself by thinking about how people with the opposite traits to you would handle your issues.
Identify music that lifts your spirit and play it.
Take 5 minutes to be silent and still in a busy day to allow your thoughts to organise themselves.
Shift your butt. Exercise gets everything moving, including thinking and ideas.
If you are stuck, clarify the problem as far as you can, then park it. Go and do something else. Your subconscious will work on it.
Remember the radiators and drains. If you are spending more time with people who drain you than people who build you up and inspire you, shift the balance.
Allow flexibility in your schedule so that you can do things when you are in the mood.
Don’t flog a dead horse. If you are struggling with a task, take a break to feed your body, mind or spirit. You’ll achieve more in the long run.
Allow your inner child out to play. Children don’t have the self imposed restrictions that we have. Remember how to have silly fun. Ask the advice of a 4 year old.
Everything is a work in progress. If you expect to be perfect, you will constantly be labelling yourself a failure. That’s not healthy.
Critically evaluate your work, learn the lessons taught objectively without giving yourself a hard time. If you can’t evaluate your work, you need someone who can help you see it through fresh eyes.
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By Julie Cooper
Author of Face to Face in the Workplace
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