Do you believe you have to be born with creative bones in order to brainstorm amazing ideas? Or that everybody has an inner creative genius and it’s just finding the tactics that work for you to discover yours?
The Ancient Greeks actually believed that the inspiration for originality came from the gods and that is why some of us believe that we can never be creative. If you look at successful creative individuals such as artists, musicians, inventors, etc. it can sometimes be perceived that they received the gift of creativity and are in fact just ‘the lucky few’ born with creative bones. However, science proves that creativity can indeed be learned and nurtured; creativity is like a muscle, it must be stretched, challenged and occasionally pushed past its comfort zones. Even in the classrooms today it is now encouraged more than ever before to teach and allow pupils to be creative.
Creativity can help children deal with their emotions, communication, and prepare them for the future. In result of this, the job market has changed and adapted. There has been a significant shift of value towards a creative person, who can now be preferred to someone with a specific skill set or even high intelligence in a chosen subject.
Creativity is now one of the most important attributes that CEOs look for in potential new leaders for the future of their business.
80% of people feel that unlocking creativity is critical for economic growth
and 60% of CEOs think that creativity is the most important skill for a leader
Understandably, there are distractions, interferences and hindrances that can limit your creativity and stop you getting in that valuable ‘creative zone’. There are two common deterrents that can limit your own personal creativity: an internal barrier we create ourselves through lack of motivation, which can limit your imagination and inspiration – and an external barrier, which limits our expression of creativity, perhaps through a lack of confidence.
However, it is also possible that self-imposed restrictions on our creativity can actually have the opposite effect, and motivate us more; for example, Dr Seuss famously wrote Green Eggs & Ham after betting that he couldn’t produce a story using less than fifty words. By challenging his creative processes, he was able to prove himself wrong and gain a sense of accomplishment.
A creative life is a happy life
Such positive effects don’t end here – it is predicted that creativity can actually result in a longer, healthier life; according to researchers, ‘A creative life is a healthy life.’ The results found that creativity – not intelligence, or overall openness – decreased mortality.
Creativity is a tricky thing, often escaping us when we rely on it the most – but creative people are actually known to excel at problem-solving, finding solutions to problems that may not be so obvious to others. Although their methods are not always considered practical, oftentimes a creative perspective is refreshing and in fact more effective than a textbook answer.
In its tricky nature, some days you may feel that you are staring at a blank page with no start in sight – but starting is the hardest part. You might not write well every day, but remember you can always edit a ‘bad’ page; you can’t edit a blank page.
Don’t be scared to be weird
Creativity can come to people in all sorts of weird and wonderful forms; some of the most famous creative individuals gained their brightest ideas in the weirdest of ways.
- Salvador Dali slept with a key in his hand, held over a metal plate every night. Eventually, falling asleep would cause the key to fall; he believed the strangest ideas are in the subconscious, accessed in the transitional state between consciousness and sleep.
- The ever-famous Steve Jobs bathed his feet in toilet water as he felt the practice done in the company toilets reduced his stress levels and helped him generate ideas.
- Finally (oh yes, there is more!) the wonderful Agatha Christie ate apples in the bath and then surrounded herself with the cores. She felt that sitting in the bath thinking, undisturbed, and lining the tub rim with apple cores helped her to come up with plots for her famous books.
So whether you want to bathe your feet in toilet water or sleep with a key, the results from these strange rituals certainly paid off. But we understand that it may be a bit strange to conduct these types of activities in the office, so let’s take a look at some easier ways to boost your creativity levels.
Unplug from technology and detox from the screens
It is common in today’s world to be addicted to your mobile phone, after all it does everything for you; wakes you up in the morning, holds your calendar filled with important dates for the year and provides all needed communication with loved ones and friends. Even when it isn’t clutched in your hand, the numerous amounts of push notifications, text messages and daily updates that occur each hour can be somewhat distracting. Unplugging from technology and taking a break can improve both your focus and concentration allowing you to fully ‘switch off’. We are all part of the ‘always on’ culture and sometimes even when we go on holiday we never really take a break. So it is vital that when you are on your breaks at work to turn away from the screens, unplug the wires and take a break which will be leave you refreshed and as a result, more creative.
Our Tip – Free app called Moment is available from the Apple store to download. This handy app tracks how long you have spent on your phone each day. For some, we know that your phone is a necessity at work as it does everything, but this app can help you monitor your screen time on breaks and weekends to start your digital detox.
It is well known that exercise can get the creative juices flowing and give you that creative boost you need. We understand it is hard to get outside and take part in exercise when you occupy a desk-related role; however there are a few desk-based exercises we found online that you could take part in. Exercise, even if it is just a quick walk outside on your break, stimulates BDNF in the brain which encourages growth of new brain cells.
Our Tip – Use health and step counter apps. There are numerous free apps available for tracking the amount of steps we take daily. These apps are easy to use and most iPhones now have this feature built-in, this could be the start for tracking the amount of exercise you complete each week.
Take a break outside
We understand that it can be hard sometimes to even venture to the ‘outside’ when working a 9-5 office job, but the benefits you can get from taking just a short break outside can boost your creativity massively.
For example, when you spend time in nature, you tend to feel a sense of awe and that there is no rush or pressures at that moment in time – it’s like somebody has hit the ‘pause’ button. Nothing is as frustrating as having a looming deadline and being bogged down with a creative block every day. Spending quality time outdoors, even if it is just going for a quick walk on your break can in return help overcome this ‘creative block’.
Our tip – Instead of driving to the shop on your dinner, make the effort to try and walk to the shop instead. Or take the time to catch up with a work colleague on a walk outside on your dinner.
Or if you can’t get outside try the Head Space app. This is a personal guided meditation programme right in your pocket available whenever you need it. This gives you some time to just step away from the rush of daily life and have a break from the pressure.
Enjoy some music
Studies show that listening to happy music increases performance on overall divergent thinking and can help with concentration which in return can boost productivity. Sometimes music can help you to switch off in a noisy environment and focus more on what you are doing in that exact time. Dr Ferguson who conducted a study on how music can improve creativity believed, “The tune can improve the brain’s flexible thinking, allowing them to come up with ideas that we wouldn’t have occurred to them in a sound vacuum”.
The next time you’re stuck for ideas or really want to impress your boss with some creative inspiration, jump on Spotify and get the creative juices flowing. Whether it is a bit of classical music or even Taylor Swift or Beyoncé that does it for you, you’ll have to try that out for yourself!
Our tip – If you can’t find the right playlist, we have just come across this website called coffitivity, this amazing audio website recreates the ambient sounds of a café to boost your creativity and help you work even better.
Organise/ lists and write plans
Being more organised is always a positive thing and coming prepared can never be frowned upon. Keeping a diary or a to-do list can be key to being more creative daily and can stop those creative blocks. If you want to reduce daily stress, the first thing you can do is to stop overburdening your brain, if you fill it up with stuff that can easily be put somewhere else, e.g. a diary, then you are reducing its ability to work at its most effective.
We have found some handy organisation apps that are free to use, to free space up in your brain for amazing creative ideas.
Our tip – Evernote is a fantastic app that helps you capture and prioritise ideas into organised folders. It allows you to clip any web page or image that you come across and file it neatly away for the future.
Being creative is now an essential skill in most business environments, a ‘creative’ no longer has a stereotype because every job role can be creative in their own way.
It is your ideas that inspire you to do the creative work in the first place even if this means bathing with apple cores or just taking a walk on your break.