Contrary to popular belief - J.K Rowling, Bill Gates and that annoying guy who got the job you interviewed for - aren’t sitting around churning out golden nuggets of creativity all day long, every day.
Creativity is a long game. And being a ‘creative’ can be frustrating, fruitless and ultimately frivolous. But it’s all part of the process. For every nightmare of a day, you can have a Tuesday treasure trove, full to the brim with fantastic ideas.
Accepting that your ideas don’t have to come to you perfect and fully-formed is a good place to start and recognizing that if you’re not feeling creative, it’s okay to take a break and not force it.
Who knows, your next best idea could occur just as you’re about to put gas in your car or when you’re running around after your dog because she’s stolen a toilet roll.
Let’s take a look at things you can practice to consistently come up with creative ideas.
Relax and Unwind
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to take a break and relax, generally. That’s a good lesson to live your whole life by, but it’s also integral if you want to be in the right frame of mind to come up with good creative ideas on a consistent basis.
When you’re stressed and highly strung, it’s tough to think properly about anything, let alone new ideas. Taking a break and stepping back, allows you the mental space to come up with fresh thoughts and walk through concepts. Go for a walk, do some exercise or just chill out on the couch.
Giving yourself a healthy work/life balance gives you more a positive perspective and can help to unlock your creativity.
Practice being Creative
Creativity comes naturally to some people, but it’s also a skill that you can practice and strengthen. There are a set of values and approaches that you can use which facilitate creative thinking. Being flexible, pro-active, adaptable and collaborative are all core components of a good creative mind set.
Thinking outside the box is an innovative approach, but you can also be creative inside the box and produce meaningful contributions. There are lots of tools that you can use to practice your creativity. Coggle is brilliant for mind mapping and lets you use a free-flowing thought process to organize your ideas and find connections between themes. Invite other colleagues to edit your maps and input their ideas and strengthen your concepts too.
Getting used to using tools and new processes can spark your creativity and encourages you to work in different ways and break down your standard routines.
Collaborate with others
One of the best ways to work through ideas and find out whether they’re worth pursuing or throwing in the trash – is to chat to other people and collaborate on projects together. Bouncing off someone else can really get your creative juices flowing and help you to come up with some good ideas.
Using software that allows you to invite others to join your projects and add comments is a great way of thinking about topics from a different angle. There might be something that you’ve overlooked and it’s staring you right in the face. Asking for an objective opinion can highlight things you’ve missed.
Find people that inspire you or have an energy and ethic that complements your style of working. Having people around you that help you to come up with your best ideas or put you in a creative frame of mind is incredibly beneficial.
Revisit Old Work
You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘no idea is a bad idea’ – there are some notable exceptions to the rule, but overall, it’s a pretty useful statement. Collecting your ideas and setting them aside to reference back to is a really good way to create an ideas swipe file. Your idea might not be relevant for the project that you’re working on at the moment, but hey, 5 months down the line, it could be perfect.
The process of looking back through your old work in itself can even be an effective creative task – new connections, themes and ideas can pop up when you’re feeling inspired. Old ideas can form a good foundation for a new and improved idea that you’ve had the time and experience to make even better. So, keep those old notebooks for safe keeping and continue to add discarded ideas to folders.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and your best ideas won’t be either. It’s totally okay to throw the towel in and acknowledge that maybe today isn’t the best time to be creative. The truth is that you can practice the skills and approaches that will help foster creativity, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, learn to give yourself a break and you’ll be in a much better frame of mind to think about new ideas and concepts. Find out what works for you, whether it’s scribbling your thoughts on a notepad or chatting with a big group of people – experiment with and discover the conditions that help you to think creatively.
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