10 Ways to Develop Creativity
Creativity is something we all use in some form, but many believe they aren’t creative.
But the creative mind can be developed. The best way to do that is through practice.
The more you do the things, regularly, that flex your creative muscle, the more you will develop a natural ability to be creative.
Developing your creative muscles helps reduce stress and improve your problem-solving ability.
Begin with these 10 steps to develop and enhance your creativity.
- Be mindful and observe what others are doing around you. The way we see our surroundings and our environment helps build our creativity. Notice and appreciate everything and everyone around you. This opens your mind to new possibilities while helping you build on collection of experiences to draw from for inspiration.
- Be willing to take risks in order to develop your creative skills. While you will fail, you will be boosting your creativity and building skills you can use later.
- Every time you make progress with using your creativity, you are building your confidence. Reward yourself for your creativity.
- When you approach a problem remember there are multiple solutions. Look for a variety of solutions instead of going with your first one. This helps build problem solving skills and your creative thinking skills.
- Start to keep a creativity journal. Use it to keep track of your creative process and any ideas you come up with. Go back and reflect on what you have accomplished. Use it to try to find other solutions to any problems you may have solved already.
- Use a mind map or flow chart to connect ideas and look for creative answers to any questions you are facing. For the mind map, write down the central topic or word then link the related ideas around the center word. This gives you a visual for seeing ideas and how they are linked. The flow chart can be used to track what needs to happen when in a project or event. They can also be used to visualize the final product and what needs to happen to get to that finished product.
- Develop your creativity by changing your environment. This can as simple as clearing your desk, painting your walls or moving your furniture. Or you can try taking your laptop to work in a different setting such as a restaurant or park.
- Fight your fear of failing. If you fear you will make a huge mistake or fail when you try doing something new, it can keep you paralyzed from being creative. Mistakes are always going to happen. The trick is to not give up and to learn from them.
- Get out of your comfort zone and try new things. Do this on a regular basis to develop your creativity. Changing things and doing things outside your comfort zone boosts creativity. Start with something small if you aren’t ready to rock climb a mountain cliff.
- Take time to daydream and let your mind wander. Daydreaming leads to creative problem-solving while boosting your creative thinking. As it wanders, your mind accesses memories and emotions as well as those random bits of knowledge you’ve forgotten. Focus on the area you are wanting inspiration in.
Practice is key when it comes to developing your creativity. If you don’t do your activities, regularly, whether they are mental or physical, your creativity fades.
There are many ways to develop your creativity. Just find the ones that work for you.
The 5 Steps In The Creative Process
When you look at creative work, you might be amazed at how simple they are, their beauty and their effectiveness.
You might wonder how they came up with the idea. How can you use that creative process in your work and life?
Creativity is not magic. It’s a mixture of influence, imitation and your own interpretation.
It can be more predominate in some people, but everyone can train themselves to be more creative. It’s not just restricted to art or music or inventors.
It comes down to training yourself in the creative process.
The creative process is different for everyone yet has the same basic 5 steps.
Each step will be different depending on the person, job, industry, creative medium or other factors. It might take days, weeks or months to get an outcome.
The creative process is not predictable or linear.
- Preparation. The preparation stage is where you gather as much information as possible. You begin becoming immersed with the material. Research is done in this step. Look at the audience, research the brand, gather information and inspiration from other sources. For example, if you are a writer, this step is the researching facts and reading other works in the same area. If you’re an entrepreneur you’re researching your audience needs and the demand.
- Incubation. This is the step that will take time. It’s where the magic happens. After you absorb the information from step one, you begin to examine concepts, look at them in different ways and experiment on how the fit together. This step is when ideas are marinating in your mind. It can be consciously while you are brainstorming or subconsciously. You may have to step away from the problem to do something else that energized and excites you before you come back to it.
- Illumination. This is the “Aha!” moment, the lightbulb moment, the “Eureka!” moment when the perfect idea hits you. It’s the breakthrough moment. It’s often unexpected. It happens many times when you are doing a completely unrelated activity. When this moment hits, grab your notebook or sketchbook and jot it down before it gets lost in your brain.
- Evaluation. This is the reasoning stage. It’s the hard part where you look at all your ideas and narrow them down to the ones that will work and the ones that won’t. For each idea or solution ask: Is it worth pursuing? Is it new enough or has it been many times before? Are there changes I could make? What do my colleagues, superiors, client think of the idea?
- Implementation. This is the stage where the work gets done. It’s where the idea is turned into the final product. It’s where things like your skill, knowledge, experiences and the work all come together to create the solution. The final draft. The artist’s finished piece. The businessperson’s product.
Creativity doesn’t have a definitive process, yet it does have general steps in each stage of the process.
Use the 5 step process in your work and daily life to help you solve problems, come up with new products and be more creative in your life.
Things To Avoid If You Want To Think Creatively
We’re all busy. Busy is a part of everyone’s over full lives.
We have overflowing email in-boxes, cram too many meetings into our day, spend hours trying to keep up with social media.
But being busy simply means we don’t have priorities set up right. And being busy means our creativity suffers.
Our creative powers become stagnant when we are busy.
Creativity is what helps us manifest our ideas, use it to solve problems so our projects succeed or come up with easier ways to do things.
There are things we do, habits we have, that are zapping our creativity. These habits drain us and put our goals out of reach.
With a few changes in your behavior, you can begin tapping into your creativity.
Look at all the things you put into your body. Those things that help you cope every day. Do they really help?
This can be anything you eat that you get some sort of effect from.
This can be processed or junk food, sugar or caffeine from coffee to drugs, alcohol or smoking. When we’re at our peak, our creative selves are more prevalent.
Be honest with what goes into your body. Is it helping or hindering?
Social media is an important part of how we connect with others and cultivate relationship for our work. It’s also a big attention stealer.
Our attention is vital to our lives and for creativity. Limit how much time you spend on social media.
Be aware of how it makes you feel and how it affects your creativity.
Email in-boxes are inundated with more and more emails every day. Checking our email is one of the biggest killers of energy and momentum in our lives.
Set a specific time to read, respond and delete emails to make better use of more time and energy.
It’s easy to overdo work and get burnt out. We push ourselves to the limit. Then our energy slags and we lose sleep.
Instead, when possible, set limits on how long you work. Learn how to be consistent, outsource, get help or whatever is necessary to not over work yourself.
“Sprints” are fine but only occasionally, but make sure you don’t let your rest suffer.
Doing the Wrong Work
One thing that destroys your creativity is doing the wrong work.
When you spend too much time on things that don’t matter or that don’t come naturally to you, you begin to become stagnant, overworked and less creative.
Instead delegate, outsource or avoid tasks that are part of your weakness. Playing to your strengths allows you to embrace your creativity.
Choosing the First Solution
When you go with the first solution, you are just recalling or settling. This keeps you from being motivated to try alternative ideas.
When faced with a problem, take the time to explore different solutions. Is there a better one, more efficient one, easier one?
Changing your habits that are restricting your creativity can change the way you tap into your creativity.
Doing away with these habits frees energy, time, and mental awareness letting you be open to new ideas and thoughts.
Useful Tricks to Improve Creative Thinking
There might be times you find yourself lacking in creativity. The cause for your lack of creativity can be for different reasons.
It could be you haven’t been using your creative muscles regularly and they’ve become hidden.
There are many tricks you can use to improve your creative thinking.
One of the best ways to keep yourself inspired to create every day is to have rituals in place that you use regularly and routinely.
Having routines that inspire you conditions your brain to tap into your creativity easily. Some examples of a ritual might be to
- Read in the morning.
- Listen to music every day.
- Meditating for 5 minutes.
- Deep breathe throughout the day.
Creating something every day, even if you only have 5 or 10 minutes to do so, keeps your creativity alive and inspired. You don’t have to create a masterpiece.
Write a short article. Draw mind maps in meetings. Develop new product ideas. Creatively re-arrange and organize your files. Take photographs of the sunset.
Take breaks often. Especially when you feel stuck with a problem and can’t find the solution.
Taking breaks allows your mind to focus on something else while getting inspiration. It’s also good to take a break from all the digital chatter in our lives regularly.
Get outside and unplug at least once a week, preferably daily, to build your creative thinking muscle.
Whenever you feel inspired, make a list of those ideas in a small notebook or note app in your phone.
Use these ideas as launching pads for new ways of doing things, new products or whatever inspires you.
Have fun regularly. Go out with friends or colleagues for some time away from the routines that are keeping your stuck.
Laughing, good conversation and bouncing ideas off each other builds and inspires your creativity while helping you relax and have fun.
Use the “Three Ifs” to ask clever questions to inspire your thoughts on a concept. Build your creative thinking by asking questions like these:
- What would happen if I change it (the object, system, etc.)?
- What would I change or improve about it if I wanted to use it in 10 years?
- What would I do if I had a one-million-dollar investment to improve it?
These questions or ones like them, can be powerful tools to help you think differently. Repeatedly use the three questions test in all types of the situations.
Ideas will begin to flow and enable you to think more creatively.
Take advantage of the peak hours that you feel most productive and creative when you need to find a solution.
Some people are more creative during times of emotional stress. Whatever that time is, use it to let your creative juices flow.
Put on some music, surround yourself with inspiring things and just be creative.
Interact with creative and inspiring people on a regular basis to get fresh ideas and perspectives.
These interactions and exchange of ideas can help you re-focus on the creative ideas that work best for you and help you narrow down your options.
Finally, don’t be afraid to take risks to improve your creative thinking. When you avoid taking risks you end up suppressing your ideas.
Risks give you permission to think outside the box and embrace your creative ideas. Some people are more creative than others, naturally.
But everyone can be a creative thinker. Build your creativity in ways that help you be inspired and creative all the time.
Using Creativity To Problem Solve At Work
We all encounter problems at work and in life. It can be stressful to find yourself in the middle of a problem without a solution.
There are ways to solve most problems though if you know when, where, how, and what to look for in creating a solution.
Creative problem solving is the process of solving problems with a view of the issue in more than one way.
It’s a necessary skill in the workplace but many people don’t naturally have the instinct for it.
That’s why using the tools and techniques outlined in this article will help you.
Begin by identifying and defining the problem, wish or goal. What is the real problem? What’s wrong or lacking? What do you want to achieve or have happen?
Look at the underlying reason for the problem. Is it a simple thing or is there something going on causing the problem?
Remember, the solution is not to treat the symptom. Address the problem and fix it instead of putting a bandage on the problem.
Gather Data – Gather the information you need to solve the problem. What data do you need to know? Sort the facts, opinions and fiction.
Do you have a clear idea of what the problem is? Examine the problem from every side and from different perspectives or views.
View what has already been done to deal with the issue.
Generate Ideas and Solutions – Brainstorm ways to fix the problem. You must bypass the fears and blocks that keep creative solutions from forming.
Use creativity when thinking of ways to solve the problem, goal or situation. Think outside the normal way of doing things when looking for a solution.
Other ways to come up with ideas are to use random stimulation by gathering ideas from a randomly chosen word.
Try It on For Size – Putting yourself in another’s shoes is another idea generator. What would other people do in your situation?
Another option for idea generation is to take a break, then come back to it with a new perspective.
Realistically evaluate all the ideas before setting up an action plan. Don’t go with the first solution before thoroughly checking out all the ideas.
Step It Up – Turn the solution into actionable steps.
After you generate ideas and lay them all out, decide on which course of action you will take that works best for the needs of the problem.
Then create actionable steps on how to do it. Don’t be afraid to come back and re-write or re-evaluate your solutions if you need to adapt or the situation changes.
Creative problem solving means you must look at the problem in an unconventional way.
It should entail evaluating the problem you are trying to solve, gathering all the information you need to evaluate a solution, brainstorming and creativity to find solutions and turning those solutions into actionable steps.