7 Simple Ways To Supercharge Your Creative Thinking
Innovation, creative thinking and problems solving is becoming an increasingly important skill for all leaders to foster. Organisations are hungry for employees who can see things from a new perspective, solve long-standing problems with simple changes and really drive progress within the business.
Being able to think creatively, solve problems and create new and innovative ideas will have you stand out in the crowd and put you in a powerful position.
I once thought that I wasn’t creative, able to think strategically or to come up with innovative ideas. I now recognise that actually I am … I just hadn’t nurtured these skills or learnt how to create the best environments for me to allow my creative juices to run free.
Here are 7 surprisingly simple ways to supercharge your creativity.
1. Create thinking time. It is nigh on impossible to be creativity let alone productive when we are surrounded by distraction or you are on high alert for the detractions that are likely to come your way.
Put aside a chunk of time in your calendar each week dedicated for work that requires clear thinking or creatively such are specific project work, big picture planning or nutting out a problem. Turn off your phone, shut down your emails and shut your office door if you are lucky enough to have one.
2. Manage your mood. Research has found that we do our best creative work when we feel positive. We tend to be bolder and more focused on solutions and what is possible when we feel good. So think about what gets you in a positive mood? Is it heading out for a quick coffee with colleagues, is it meditating in the mornings before work or hitting the gym?
3. Find your creative space. One leader I was working with some years ago was struggling to come up with a business strategy that was innovative or inspiring. She felt bogged down and void of new ideas. Not surprising really… she was working in a classified area of the Defence Force requiring her to conduct all her work in a windowless bunker!
Our work environment plays a huge part in our creativity. All my best creative work is done sitting in one of my favourite café’s. Yes the coffee is good but I think it is the ambient noise and the hustle and bustle around me that allows me to focus, create and come up with new ideas.
I wonder where your creative space is? Is it a café, sitting on a park bench or your kitchen bench after the kids have gone to bed? Wherever it is … plan to spend more time there. Not only will it be good for your creativity, you will also see your productivity take off.
4. Get exercising. We know exercise is good for us for lots of reasons and here’s another … studies have shown that exercise can improve our ability to think creatively.
I love the way it’s explained in this Psychology Today article:
“Sweat is like WD-40 for your mind—it lubricates the rusty hinges of your brain and makes your thinking more fluid. Exercise allows your conscious mind to access fresh ideas that are buried in the subconscious.”
So … head out for a walk at lunch time to clear the mind and expand your thinking. On countless occasions I have been mulling over a problem all morning only to find the moment I step outside for a walk, the answer appears simply and easily even before I get to the end of the street.
5. Extend your boundaries. There is a very good reason why training programs usually involve butchers paper and colour textas. It is to encourage us to return to our child like exploration of ideas and to remove the limits and linear thinking that comes with lined paper or the standard work document.
To get ideas flowing ditch the computer and map out your thoughts on flip paper or a white board. This is the time for out of the box thinking. Believe no idea is a crazy one because it is from these crazy ideas that the gems appear. You can always amend them later to mould them into workable ideas… but for now just go with the ideas.
6. Find some friends. You are no doubt smart. It may be your responsibility … but you don’t have all the answers. Very often the best solutions and ideas happen through collaboration. Reach out to your team, colleagues and mentors to bounce ideas around with. Ladies, we are known for our strength as collaborators so lets put that skill to work. Stop believing you need to do it all. You don’t!
7. Be Inspired. We do not find new solutions or become more creative by maintaining the status quo. New ideas come when we step outside what we already know and experience new things. Explore new places, seek out new experiences, visit places of inspiration, engage in wild and crazy conversations to extend your thinking of what is possible and expand your horizons by immersing in the works of the brightest thought leaders of today.
New ideas and solutions do not always come from brand new thinking … often it is from repurposing, redefining and reshaping the bright ideas of others.
Building your creativity is just like building any muscle. It takes persistence, practice and perseverance. We were all born creative but somewhere along the way it gets beaten out of us. We are told to colour between the lines, to be like everyone else and to follow the rules.
If you want to create innovating marketing ideas, develop game changing strategies or to solve the challenges that are thrown your way day in day out, you must flex your creative muscle. See this as a critical skill you can develop. Be bold. Be brave and have some fun.
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