15 AMAZING TIPS TO BOOST YOUR CREATIVE SKILLS
We already know being creative can make us . But while we may think of creativity in terms of writing a novel or painting a masterpiece, experts say it can really mean anything from trying a new recipe to submitting an original idea during a meeting.
Here we’ve got 33 fun ways to fire up that creative spark, from having a drink to taking a nap—seriously.
10 Minutes or Less
1. Listen to music.
3. Get someone else's opinion.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. A friend might mention something that sparks a whole new stream of thought. The more ideas and perspectives, the better.
4. Think about something far away.
Research suggests our ability to improves when we think about events far off in the past or future or in another location. So picture New Year’s Eve 2022 or dining at a café in Paris and let your imagination go.
5. Write by hand.
Carrie Barron, M.D., and Alton Barron, M.D., authors of , advise us to skip the Word doc and pick up a pen instead. Sometimes the whole experience of writing by hand—the ink on our fingers, the smell of a fresh notebook—is all it takes to get creative juices flowing.
What was I saying? Oh, right. We tend to take a more creative approach to problems when our mind is wandering (less so when we’re hunched over a computer with a deadline looming). So don’t worry about zoning out for a few minutes.
7. Look at something blue or green.
8. Gesture with two hands.
Odd but true: One study found using two hands to explain something prompts the brain to consider issues from multiple perspectives.Embodied metaphors and creative "acts". Leung AK, Kim S, Polman E. Psychological science, 2012, Apr.;23(5):1467-9280.(It’s also possible that using the left hand stimulates creative thought, since left-handed people tend to be in general.)
9. Sit outside a box.
10. Have some booze.
11. Lie down.
12. Rethink labels.
Pick an object and break it into parts. (So a flower becomes stalk, leaves, petals, and pollen.) It’s called the “generic-parts technique” and people trained to think this way were better at solving problems through creative insight than people who weren’t given the training.
13. Laugh a little.
14. Exercise the eyes.
30 Minutes or Less
15. Spend time outside.
Remember the thrill of being a kid running through the playground, making up games and adventures? Bring that feeling back simply by getting a dose of green. Being in natural settings is like playtime for adults: It taps into all five senses, energizes the body, and, most importantly, stimulates the imagination.
16. Create with your hands.
High-five! Thumbs up! Those ten fingers are the tools for expressing our mind and interacting with others. That’s why the Barrons say making something by hand can be a huge creativity boost. Producing something by hand also means getting information from multiple senses at once, which can stimulate creative thinking. Try cooking, knitting, or a DIY home decorating project.
17. Get social.
When we spend time with people we trust, we tend to have deeper conversations. The Barrons believe these chats often lead to creative thinking because we’re able to be ourselves and talk freely about our passions.
According to the Barrons, when we’re physically active, the body loosens up and our mind is a little freer. So it’s easier to come up with solutions to problems and think of new ideas. Plus one recent study found regular exercisers performed better on creative tasks than their less active peers did.
19. Try something new.
Doing things out of habit tends to undermine creative thought; on the other hand, novelty-seeking is associated with creativity (and overall well-being). Even something as simple as taking a new route to work or experimenting with a cool recipe counts.
20. Do some yoga.
21. Play video games.
Here’s one excuse to sit in front of the computer: Video games that energize players and encourage a positive mood (Wii Tennis, not Mortal Combat) can also by boosting our problem-solving skills.
22. Get some sleep.
If you’re trying to solve a problem and can’t, go to bed. You might find a better solution in the morning. Sleep restructures new memory representations, meaning we think about experiences in new ways.Sleep inspires insight. Wagner U, Gais S, Haider H. Nature, 2004, Feb.;427(6972):1476-4687.At the very least, take a , which stimulates right brain activity (the part of the brain responsible for creativity).
23. Sit in a coffee shop.
In one study, people were most creative with a moderate level of noise in the background. The noise around us is slightly distracting, so it encourages us to think a little harder and more imaginatively. (Of course, some people might need quieter or louder noise to produce their best work.)
24. Don't stress about perfection.
It’s okay if that painting doesn’t make it to the MOMA. Putting pressure on yourself to produce something outstanding can actually make it harder to create anything at all. “A lot of people secretly feel, 'I'm not creative.' But everyone is creative to a certain degree," Carrie Barron says. Just try your best and see what happens.
25. List problems.
Keep a notebook handy at all times and, throughout the day, jot down pesky annoyances. You might come up with a creative solution to one of the issues.
26. Hang out with sarcastic people.
27. Play at work.
28. Create a treasure chest.
Collect inspiring items (photos, quotations, trinkets, etc.). Every time you open the box you’ll feel newly excited and remember ideas you had in the past.
29. Make a creativity room.
Designate a physical space for creativity in the house and include objects related to hobbies, mementos from favorite memories, and vision boards featuring possible projects. Not enough space? Try a "creativity corner" in a single room. That way, says , M.D., the brain will get into the habit of being creative every time we’re in that area.
30. Work when you're tired.
Yes, sleep can help us think of new ideas, but working at our of day can also promote creativity because we’re less inhibited. Morning people might try working at night and night owls could try getting to work early.
31. Spend time alone.
We did suggest that hanging with friends can boost creativity, but sometimes a little peace and quiet is necessary. Hole up with some headphones, get in touch with your own thoughts, go for a solo walk, or focus on the task at hand.
32. Deal with rejection
One is the loneliest—and most innovative—number. Getting rejected can boost our ability to think creatively because we start exploring new and original ideas.
33. Free think and write ideas down.
Instead of worrying about remembering ideas (whatwasthat brilliant story idea again...?), you’ll have room to come up with new ones. Banschick recommends “brain dumping,” (also called "free-association") or writing down everything that comes to mind without worrying about revising.Free association reconsidered: the talking cure, the writing cure. Farber SK. The journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis and Dynamic Psychiatry, 2005, Dec.;33(2):1546-0371.Then later, if you feel so inclined, go back over your ideas and consider which ones are worth keeping.
Video: Creative thinking - how to get out of the box and generate ideas: Giovanni Corazza at TEDxRoma
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