What a Great Idea! How Anyone Can Improve Their Creativity Skills
Let’s be honest. All of us face problems that seem overwhelming. The solution, no matter who you are, can come from creative thinking. Of course, that can be easier said than done when we’re trying to tap into our creativity as a new mom. To help, One Messy Bun shares a few ways to get the juices flowing when you are feeling idea-stunted.
Try working when you are tired.
There are many studies that show we all have optimal working times for maximum efficiency. However, recent research argues that while we may work better when we are awake and alert, we work more creatively when we’re tired. This is because when we are tired, we are more likely to consider more information than usual. In other words, since we’re easily distracted when we’re sleepy, we’re also more easily inspired. Having your workspace optimized and organized to encourage the flow of creativity can also help stimulate the creative side of your brain, whether you’re dragging or bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
Teach an old dog new tricks.
I once knew a woman who visited a Third World country. She was going through her daily correspondence and throwing away the envelopes. Her host was appalled at the waste, and suggested she use the envelopes to write notes or wrap gifts with instead. This website struck a similar cord, suggesting that to get creative, we ask the question, “What else can I do with this?” What a great idea! Even with plenty of resources at hand, by asking this question, we can increase productivity, efficiency, and idea generation.
Go back to school.
Returning to school and having access to new thoughts, ideas and concepts is a great way to stimulate creativity. It can also give you an added career boost. You can even take classes outside your comfort zone. These changes force you to use your brain differently or apply problem-solving skills you haven’t used in a while. Of course, too much coursework can negatively affect creativity, so look for a program that offers flexibility and the option to study at your own pace.
Work your mental muscle.
James Altucher is a self-made millionaire and a prolific idea generator. He suggests the best way to come up with ideas is to make lists every single day. The goal of making lists is to get your creative juices flowing. He suggests that creating lists for brain exercise is much like going to the gym for our body’s exercise. When arms and legs react to the strain, we sweat and we release toxins. Our arms get definition, and our calves become toned.
He says, “The same thing happens with the idea muscle. Somewhere around idea number six, your brain starts to sweat. This means it’s building up. Break through this. Come up with ten ideas.”
He goes on to suggest that by working this muscle daily, when the time comes that we actually need ideas, our brain muscle is primed for the task.
Let ideas flow without judgement.
We are our own worst critics. When we’re working, we tend to second guess ourselves and edit our ideas before we’ve even seen a thought through to its conclusion. By editing before we have completed anything, we rob ourselves of the opportunity to create. Have brainstorming meetings with your peers, but make a rule that anyone who says, “But that won’t work because …” goes in the “penalty box.” There is no room for practicality when creating. It is OK if the ideas don’t pan out in the end, but the trick is to get them going.
Ideas are sort of like children: If you stop them before they get their story out, the moment may be gone forever. Let ideas flow completely before gently correcting and shaping them. Kristen Lamb, an award-winning writer, agrees. She suggests that writers should never delete their progress as they work, but instead, employ tricks like making notes, making additions in a different color, and taking well-intentioned advice with a grain of salt. She humorously advises that by putting your ideas on the chopping block before it’s really time to, “You will turn into a pillar of unfinished novels.”
Applying this advice to any career or project is as simple as Lamb’s warning: “Don’t you dare hit that backspace button.” Try tying in Altucher’s advice of making lists. Better yet, try approaching the task when you’re a little spent for best creative results. When I’m stumped for a solution, one of my favorite ways to address the issue is to free-write any solution I can think of, no matter how impossible it may seem. Oftentimes, by letting things flow quickly and without hindrance, I find that with a little adjustment, many of my “crazy” ideas just might work.
Katie Conroy writes about lifestyle topics and created advicemine.com where she shares advice from her experiences, education & research.