This week, I’ve been researching the topic of Creativity and how to become a more creative blogger. The first part of this series looked at creative approaches, yesterday I shared some creative people’s mindsets, and today I’d like to go a little more practical and provide a few ways that everyone can incorporate a little more creativity into their lives.
1. Excite Yourself
When it comes to our physical bodies, most of us understand the premise of ‘what goes in dictates what comes out,’ but the same principle applies to our thoughts.
I’ve discovered that the more I engage myself with different sounds, images, thoughts, discussions, tastes, people, and so on, the more creative ideas appear to pour out. I’m no scientist, but I’ve been told by folks who study this type of thing that engaging your mind with ‘new’ things is quite beneficial.
So you have my permission to take yourself to see a movie, read a book, treat yourself to a magazine, make a new acquaintance, buy yourself a new CD, listen to a new radio station, and even travel to another country and experience a new culture!
Stretch and exercise your brain on a regular basis, and you’ll be shocked at what it can create when called upon.
2. Make Room for Yourself
We all know that exercise is beneficial to physical fitness, but so is rest.
I once heard of research that was conducted on various groups of people to establish how much work they should do each week in order to be most productive on an hourly basis.
According to the findings, the best balance for productivity was six days of strong work followed by one day of complete rest.
If you’re anything like me, your life is pretty hectic, and the concept of space or rest can be difficult to grasp – but if you want to be a productive and creative person, you must prioritize it.
I’ve discovered that scheduling downtime during the week is the most effective approach for me to unwind. Grab your calendar and schedule time to ‘simply be’ throughout the next few weeks.
I give myself hour-long breaks (at least one per day), days off every week, and longer breaks every few months.
PS: There are various forms of space that you may want to give yourself. The preceding may appear to imply that I allow myself total time off – nevertheless, I also give myself space in my work to be creative.
For example, once or twice a week, I set out an hour or so to conduct some brainstorming. I’ll sit down with a notebook or my computer and either just write (free flow) or sit down with a specific subject or problem that I’d like to work on and brainstorm around it. While these are ‘work’ times, they are always done offline, with the phone turned off, and at a location where I know, I will not be interrupted. There’s generally no set agenda, and it’s just about letting my mind carry me anywhere it wants. I frequently receive fantastic ideas during these sessions.
3. Change Up Your Environment
I had an epiphany a few months ago that truly pushed me.
- I spend the majority of my day – online – in front of my computer.
- When I’m sitting in front of my computer – online – I rarely have innovative thoughts.
- The majority of my creative ideas come to me while I’m out and about, engaging with people or in different locations — offline.
My greatest creative ideas come to me when I’m not at home, sitting in front of my computer – despite the fact that that’s where I spend most of my time. Hmmmmm.
Since coming to this revelation, I’ve made a concerted effort to get out more.
If I have a meeting, I now schedule it in a cafe, park, or bar.
If I need to spend a morning writing post or training material for b5, I now do it offline in a cafe, at a friend’s house, or even in the backyard.
4. You Should Be a People Person
I’m a shy person. In fact, according to some of the personality tests I’ve taken, I’m the most introverted person possible. It’s not that I don’t appreciate people’s company; it’s simply that I get my energy from being alone, not from engaging with them.
So I’m introverted – but I also know that if I indulge in my introversion too much, I’m denying myself of something I need to sustain myself — both emotionally and creatively.
People offer new ideas, points of view, questions, and experiences to the difficulties you’re seeking to tackle in your own job. When these new perspectives collide with your own, creative sparks typically ignite and some of the best new ideas emerge.
So this little introvert has recently been on a mission to spend more time with people – real people (and not just those virtual friendships that so many of us are used to having). I’m attempting to accomplish this on a friendship/mateship level, but also as a business plan, by finding a small group of creative folks with whom I can hang out and share ideas, brainstorm, and dream on a semi-regular basis.
5. Take Notes on Your Ideas
Those wacky and zany creative ideas that start coming when you start engaging yourself with new things, creating space, mixing up your environment, and hanging out with creative people can emerge at the most unexpected moments. The trouble is that unless you have a method of recording and processing them, they will always be a transient idea, quickly forgotten.
There are numerous methods for capturing ideas like this. Here is a handful I’ve recently used:
- Idea folder on desktop — When ideas strike me when I’m in front of my computer, I scribble them down in a text file and save them in a folder on my desktop.
- Memos on my phone — I’m increasingly relying on my phone not only to keep me organized (it syncs with my computer’s calendar), but also to help me capture thoughts. I’m always adding notes to myself.
- SMS yourself – I don’t do this as frequently now that I have a phone with a better memo feature, but I used to text myself all the time with ideas.
- Leave yourself a voice message — Sometimes writing yourself a memo or text message is impractical, and you need to capture an idea audibly. I do this by dialing my cell phone, which then connects me to my voice mail service, where I leave myself a message with the thought that’s running through my head. In a way, it’s like a dictaphone for ideas. I’ve recently stopped doing this and began recording my ideas on my phone in video form to replay later.
- Notebooks – yes, they’re very un-webby – but they work. I’m a big admirer of Moleskine notebooks and try to keep one with me when I’m on the road and need to jot down lengthy ideas but can’t use my computer.
I’m sure you have other methods for capturing innovative ideas (please share them below). The idea is not simply to get them down – but also to figure out how to improve them and do something with them. I believe that most well-intentioned creative individuals have a means of capturing ideas — the issue, if you’re like me, is in collating them. Most of us have notebooks, phones, and computers full of ideas (not to mention the 400 post-it notes gathering dust on our desks), but we never return to them.
I’m striving to spend a few minutes at the end of each day reading over all of my notes and writing them down in an ideas document on my computer that I return to on a frequent basis. So far, it appears to be working.
By no means do I claim to be the only person who knows ‘how to be creative.’ Having spoken with many of you, I know that ProBlogger readers are some of the most creative people I’ve met, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.
When do you feel the most creative? How do you get into a creative mindset?