Think back to your high school art class when the teacher would hand you a huge, white sheet of paper and expect you to make something out of nothing. Some kids would start going to town drawing, and others just sat there with their mind as blank as their paper. There are a lot of people that face this same struggle today, just with a different medium.
Creativity seems like a tough thing to tackle if you’re not naturally creative. Business News Daily reports Tina Seelig, executive director of Stanford Technology Ventures Program, which is the entrepreneurship center at Stanford University School of Engineering, believes creativity is a skill.
“In fact, it is one of the most important skills we can master,” says Seelig. “With enhanced creativity, instead of problems we see potential, instead of obstacles we see opportunities, and instead of challenges we see a chance to create solutions. Creativity is critically important in everything we do, including designing products, growing businesses, and building alliances between nations. We are literally inventing the future every moment. And these skills can be learned.”
Luckily, there are many ways to get your creative juices flowing to complete whatever task is at hand. So let’s get creative and write that blog post, take awesome pictures, or even just tell your kids an awesome bedtime story.
Yup, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Set a timer for 10 minutes; it sounds like a long time, but you may be surprised at how much you have to say. Grab a notebook and write about anything and everything on your mind. Your thoughts don’t have to flow, or even be grammatically correct. This is your chance to get stuff off your chest and let your mind free of the thoughts that begin to pile up. But, once you start writing, don’t stop until the timer goes off.
Don’t know where to begin? Try a couple of these writing prompts to get you started:
Go travel somewhere else. Get away from places you’re used to seeing, and experiences you’re used to having. Expose yourself to an entirely new viewpoint through different cultural experiences. The Atlantic reports, “New sounds, smells, language, tastes, sensations, and sights spark different synapses in the brain and may have the potential to revitalize the mind.”
You don’t necessarily have to travel across the world to experience new things. Go to a side of town you never visit, and eat at a restaurant you’ve never been to. Take a trip to the countryside if you live in a large city. Shop at a local mom and pop store. Your possibilities here are endless.
Step away from your work for a little while. Most of the time your creativity will continue to go downhill if you don’t give your mind a break. Go step outside of the office and get a breath of fresh air. Take a water break and hang out by the office water cooler. Breaks allow your mind to wander elsewhere while it’s not being forced to think. Ever notice how you think of some of the best ideas while you’re in the shower? That’s because your brain is free to roam.
In the MayeCreate office, we take walks around the block… or walk across the street to the Candy Factory, because who doesn’t like fresh chocolate? Monica, our Chief Creative Officer, brings her dog into work quite frequently. I often find myself hanging out with the dog for a couple minutes to clear my head. Whatever can get your mind off the task at hand for a little bit, do it.
Like the saying goes, laughter is the best medicine. Psychology Today reports laughing can actually bring you closer to having an aha! moment. So pull up YouTube and watch videos of cats that can’t quite make the jump, people falling, babies making faces or whatever tickles your fancy. Don’t spend too much time doing this, of course. You’re trying to be creative, not lose your job.
Give yourself background noise instead of complete silence or office murmurs. Music can help you focus on the task at hand, but don’t make it too noisey. Avoid music with lyrics or quick changes in tempo and volume. Journal of Consumer Research reports ambient noise enhances performance on creative tasks.
I typically listen to Vitamin String Quartet. They are a string band that covers songs from all genres. I typically find myself humming along, which is great for people who can never seem to remember lyrics anyways. Depending upon the album, some songs are more hard-hitting and loud than others, but other are perfect for working and creativity.
If you’re having a hard time being creative, try the suggestions above. Even creatives use them quite often to get their creativity flowing. Sometimes all you have is a case of brain-blockage, where the cure is to use some of the same tactics mentioned here. Your creativity skills will begin to get better with practice, so don’t get yourself down if you don’t think you’re the best creative now. And if anything, you can always hire us to do the creatives for you!