When it comes to creativity, some people just accept defeat. “I’m not creative,” they will declare, and then give up on ever contributing a “creative” idea. The reality is that all people are creative, but most of us just aren’t used to the processes or environments that will let our minds thrive.
So, to perfect your creativity process, here are some things to evaluate:
1. What time of day are you most productive, creative, stress-free, or insightful?
For me, mornings are the time when I like to check things off my to-do list, and I reserve afternoons for the big-picture, developmental stuff. This varies for everyone, but figure out what types of activities you’d prefer to be doing at what times of day, and stick to it.
2. Are your surroundings creativity-friendly?
Take a look at your work environment. Small, organized spaces are best for plowing through a bunch of work, while airy, open spaces cater more to unrefined thinking. The best offices will have both, but if yours doesn’t, consider trading your cubicle for a couch at Starbucks or a bench in the park whenever you need to think without distraction.
3. Do you capture every idea?
The novice brainstormer tends to discard ideas that they think aren’t good enough. But, each bad idea has the potential to spark a new train of thought. Just because a street is a dead end doesn’t mean you won’t see what you’re looking for between two houses. So capture everything! Then, go back and revisit each idea (good or bad), and see what other thoughts might arise. How you capture ideas is important too. I like to use Black N’ Red notebooks from Staples (here), or if I need more space to draw and conceptualize, an artist’s sketchbook. From there, I’ll organize my ideas or group them by category into a program like Evernote, and then when it’s time to take action, I’ll boil down the to-dos in Action Method. Regardless of what tools you prefer, it’s important to have a process!
4. Are you getting your fill of inspiration?
Some people that feel void of ideas are probably just stuck in a daily grind. Experiencing life and interacting with other people is the only way to see your own world in a different light, so if you’re in a rut, do one of the following immediately:
- Read a new book. Fiction or non-fiction, both can spark new ideas.
- Go on an exploration vacation. Not one of those lock yourself in a spa retreats, but a vacation where you get out and explore a new city, eat at new restaurants, shop at new grocery stores, and talk to new people. International is great if you can swing it, but if not, I recommend picking somewhere that Southwest flies and going on a 3-4 day inspiration mission.
- Take pictures. Even if you’re not a photographer, taking pictures of things around you forces you to look at them differently. It’s a good exercise.
- Learn something new. Take a class, do volunteer work, go to a foreign movie… anything out of the norm.
Creativity and inspiration come directly from your interactions with the world. So experience things, and good or bad, your reactions to them will have an impact on your “regular” life.
Did anything that I say hit home? Did you have an idea on how you might work better? Well, that’s your creativity at work, from reading something new.