Growth / Productivity

How to get creative: 8 approaches to unlocking creativity

Laura Dolan

Mar 04, 2020 · 7 min read

Toolkit for download in this article

how to get creative

As human beings, we’re innately creative. Remember how you would let your imagination run wild as a kid? You would pretend the floor was made of lava and the only way to get from one end of the room to the other was to lay down pillows and pretend they were lava rocks. How about the hours you’d spend putting together villages made of Legos or decorating a shirt with Puffy Paints at a birthday party? Good times!

As we get older and enter the workforce, opportunities for creative outlets grow fewer and fewer depending on the industry we’ve entered. If you’re an entrepreneur, you may be devoting so much time to starting your own business that your mind is overwhelmed with what has to be done, but the ideas aren’t quite coming to you as easily and fluidly as you’d like.

Maybe it’s time to tap into your inner child and be inspired by utilizing a variety of tactics to facilitate your creative mindset.

Check out the following ideas on how to get creative:

Exercise

Exercising is not only beneficial to your physical health, it also does wonders for your mental health. Whether it involves going for a run, swimming, lifting weights, doing yoga or simply walking your dog, exercise releases endorphins, putting you in a positive mindset and helping you get clarity on something you’ve probably been pondering for days. Exercising can also facilitate reorganization of certain brain structures, using parts that weren’t being used before and also helps to clear it of clutter, stress or mental roadblocks.

Sometimes a good workout is all we need to get out of our own way and out of our heads. It’s also always a good excuse to step away from what we’re doing if our thought process is feeling stagnant.

Reading

Reading does wonders when it comes to flexing our creative muscles. It stimulates the mind and works our imaginations by bringing us to another world and introducing us to characters that can inspire and excite. Whatever genre you’re into–fantasy, science fiction, nonfiction, romance novels, even comic books, reading is a way to preoccupy our minds and activate different parts of our brain to help us learn more effectively and tap into an inventive headspace. It could be anything from the plot, setting or characters that could spark an idea and give you momentum needed to create the road map to your new startup.

Meditation

Embracing the practice of meditation and mindfulness helps reduce anxiety, increases creativity and improves memory. When your mind feels scrambled or cluttered and you’re letting your stress consume you, take a few minutes, even if it’s at your desk, and let your mind rest. Close your eyes, maybe play some soft meditative music through your headphones and just focus on your breathing. It will help you press the reset button on your mental state and eliminate any residual blockages that are hindering you from focusing on your ideas or execution for piecing your new business together.

Be bored

Counterintuitive as it sounds, being bored actually does wonders for your mental capacity and endurance, as it fosters deeper thinking and creativity. It gives your brain a chance to rest and rejuvenate while thinking about nothing. So put your phone down, turn off the TV, don’t read, don’t cook, don’t sleep, just be. Be in the present; this may sound very similar to meditating, but meditating actually takes effort. Being bored does not and is probably the easiest way to let your brain go on a creative journey.

Mental wandering

Daydream. Daydream and manifest. Let your mind wander and imagine what your small business will look like in a year, five years, 10 years. Let your imagination run wild. Where do you want to be? What kind of clientele do you want to cater to? How will you set your products apart from the competition? Take advantage of letting your mind wander. Next time you have the urge to just drop everything and daydream, don’t fight it. You’d be surprised how stimulating daydreaming is to your imagination and creativity. It may spark an idea you never thought about simply by letting your mind rest and stepping away from everything.

Sleeping

This is an obvious one, but sleeping also helps push the reset button on your creativity. Getting the recommended eight hours of sleep will help you feel refreshed and ready to take on whichever tasks are necessary to spur productivity. Who knows? An inspirational idea may come to you in the form of a dream. Whether you remember your dreams or not, people are often more creative when they sleep on the problem. If you find you’re just not getting anywhere in your brainstorming or feel mentally stuck, either take a nap or get a good night’s sleep and come back to it later. Sometimes walking away from something that’s causing mental blockages is the best thing you can do for your psyche. So stop overthinking and sleep on it.

Scheduling

Poor time management leads to disorganization, often making you feel overwhelmed and under productive. Changing your processes and way of thinking by keeping a schedule will free up your mind from the appointments you’re trying to remember and tasks you’re trying to prioritize. Being able to hold a tangible representation of what your day, week or month looks like can instill confidence in your long-range planning and give you inspiration to tackle things one at a time rather than looking at the bigger picture. Improving your time management and finishing your projects on a schedule will help you feel more accomplished and free room in your mind for being creative rather than preoccupying yourself with pragmatic and menial tasks.

Painting, drawing, doodling

Finally, hone your creative skills by taking time for some sketching, painting or doodling. Creating art helps provoke your imagination and is refreshing for the mind to do something that has no pressure added to it, it’s purely just for fun. Try stimulating your mind by doodling what your new storefront is going to look like or the pattern you want to print on the ceramic plates that you’re going to sell when your business opens. Next time, don’t fight the urge to color in the spaces of bubble letters or draw a picture of a rainbow when you’re contemplating your next business move–it might be just enough of a boost in your imagination to get to the next step in making your ideas a reality.


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