Like anything else, you need to dedicate time to exercising your creative muscles and working on creative projects. These days, everyone seems to be constantly busy and frazzled, which should give us even more reason to slow down and focus on one thing at a time. If you’re finding you have trouble coming up with new ideas for whatever you’re working on, then use your creativity time to work on some creativity exercises. Make this time every day if you can—whether it’s at work or at home. You don’t have to carve out an hour or two—even ten minutes a day can help you exercise your creative muscles.
Trying to figure out a way to make your company more sustainable? Considering new features for a product you’re working on? You don’t have to sit down and directly brainstorm on these problems to get the creativity flowing. In fact, this can be a counterproductive activity when you’re encountering a creative block, because you’ll put too much pressure on yourself. Instead, try some basic creativity exercises that are designed to spark your innovation. Many of these exercises don’t take more than a few minutes, and they can be very helpful for getting you out of your own head and into your creative project.
We spend so much of our time purposefully blocking out the world around us. Nearly everyone you see riding the bus or subway is wearing headphones, tailoring the environment to their own tastes and blocking out the sights and sounds around them. Clearing your head can help you make better observations and think more creatively. Try taking a walk, and don’t bring your phone. Give yourself some time to clear your head and observe the world around you. You may just find that inspiration strikes in the most unexpected moments.
You can’t rely on your “muse” to give you the answers. You can develop and exercise your creativity, which can yield much better results than just waiting for inspiration to strike. Start observing when you’re most creative. What time of day inspires you? Does your second cup of coffee make it easier to conjure up innovative thought? Everyone is different, so it’s important to recognize your own patterns and plan your creativity exercises for those moments.
When you’re exercising your creative muscles, don’t judge your efforts. Let your thoughts out with no filter. There will be time for a filter when you’re ready to show your ideas to other people, like your coworkers. But when you’re trying to get creativity flowing, it’s all too easy to sabotage your efforts by judging yourself, telling yourself your ideas are stupid, or feeling like you’re not creative. Your inner critic can be very harsh, so you should get into the habit of telling it to pipe down while you’re generating creative thoughts.
Creative people often bounce ideas off each other, and it’s a great way to get inspiration for your next big idea. Connect with creative colleagues and friends and have a chat or try some creativity exercises together. The more diverse your peers are, the more likely it is that innovation will come from these meetings and everyone will benefit from different perspectives.
Innovation and creativity are key for business growth, but it’s easy to let creative muscles go slack in an office setting. By making time for creativity every day, you can contribute positively to your organization, and keep your mind open to new possibilities. Remember—you don’t have to be an artist to be creative—you just need to let your mind wander, play, and explore.
By Ryan Ayers