11 Ways to Boost Your Creativity
Some research on what assists in boosting or unblocking creativity is contradictory, Kaufman says.
But that may just mean that various approaches work differently for different people. Try a few of these to see what works for you:
1 SEEK SOLUTIONS. Working on puzzles, reading murder mysteries, and performing research (genealogy, anyone?) all count. When you solve a whodunit or discover a new connection, your brain’s neural reward processing signal is activated, and that helps increase your power of insight.
2 DAYDREAM. The brain’s default mode network involves imagination, daydreaming, and spontaneous thoughts. We spend 30% of our day there, says Fratantoni.Turn off social media and other inputs and give yourself time to dream during the day.
CHEER UP. In one study, subjects could generate more wordassociation problems after watching a funny clip. “Figure out what gets you in a good mood,” Fratantoni says. This might include establishing a practice around gratitude and mindfulness.
4 SLEEP! “If there’s one thing a person can do to be more creative, it’s sleep more,” Kounios says. It boosts your mood, purges unhelpful ideas, and helps you process problems subconsciously. Even taking a 10-minute nap can help you generate new ideas and see connections you didn’t before.
5 CONSIDER YOUR CHRONOTYPE.
If you’re a night owl, you may get your best ideas in the morning, when your brain’s a bit fuzzy. In that case, work on your analytical thinking in your peak evening hours. Early birds should try the opposite, Kounios says.
6 CHANGE YOUR SURROUNDINGS. Being outside or in a room with high ceilings can help expand your attention, enhancing creative thinking, Kounios says. Sharp edges, loud colors, and striking music can instill a hint of anxiety or danger and distract the mind from letting itself wander. “The ideal situation is a spacious, warm, fuzzy environment with rounded, soft edges and muted colors,” Kounios says.
7 DON’T COMPARE. Recognize and appreciate your creativity when it pops up. Just because the bedtime story you told your child or grandchild isn’t Shakespearean doesn’t mean it’s not creative. Personally meaningful creativity should be celebrated, Kaufman says.
8 TRY SOMETHING NEW.
Challenge yourself by seeking out novel foods and places, which provides new perspectives, critical to enhancing creativity.
ASK FOR OPINIONS. Get input from people with diverse points of view when tackling a problem, especially at work. “Create the conditions where diverse perspectives are invited to have a voice in the room,” Farh says, “and where all individuals feel psychologically safe enough to put their ideas out there.”
10 DO SOMETHING ELSE.
When your brain is stuck in fight-or-flight-or-freeze mode, it can’t access creative solutions. Get a glass of water, gaze out a window, or do a non-challenging task like folding laundry. “Taking a short break lets you pull together disparate information and put it together in new ways,” Fratantoni says.
11 ESTABLISH LIMITS. Some studies have shown that constraints can make for better outcomes, Fratantoni says. For example, when one group was asked just to write a poem and another group had to write one featuring eight specific nouns, the poets with the constraint did better. Generate a constraint (even if it feels silly) that might work well for you.