The questions that people ask most about creativity is, how do you make it happen? I’m not sure if there are any scientifically proven ways to do that, but there are certainly things that can influence creativity. (Alcohol and hallucinogenic drugs come to mind, but that’s not particularly what I had in mind for this article.)
I have a simple game that I often use as an icebreaker before any creative session. It starts with creatively naming things. The idea is to ask people to look around and give everyday items a different name. For instance a cell phone could also be called a “ball and chain” or a car could be called “hot wheels.” It’s amazing how the hidden or, in effect, “real” roles of those items reveal themselves through this exercise. With a bit of creativity, everyone can come up with some fun and entertaining names for many mundane, everyday objects and these new names can be a starting point for the creation of new product categories.
Here are the 5 proven everyday habits for you to use to boost creativity:
1/ Everyday Journaling.
One of the best habits to have is to carry a small notebook or a small camera everywhere you go. When you are struck by an idea, you can quickly note it down and doodle about it. It can be surprising how many things you begin to notice. Take photos or take notes of interesting things you see, hear or experience and these captured thoughts can become the seeds for new ideas in the future. An important piece to everyday journaling is to read your notes again in different places and at different times. Revisiting these seeds is an important part of the evolution. For me the airport, museums and coffee houses are great for this.
2/ The Discipline of Curiosity.
We all have a list of things that we hate. The idea is to try to look at those things in a new light. Start with a list of the ten things that you hate most and would never consider doing. Then write down why you hate them and force yourself to think about one reason to try them. This is where curiosity is rekindled. Allow yourself the opportunity to explore new things that you thought you would never try – and see how that opens you up to brave new worlds.
3/ Practice Problem Framing Improvisation.
Surround yourself with questions. Interesting questions. Put them up in your workplace or home office. But they have to be questions that you find interesting. Each day, improve upon them (not the answers – just the questions) and try as many different ways to frame them as possible. In our efforts to solve many different kinds of problems, we tend to apply creativity at the back end of solutions and often forget that creative framing on the front end is often more critical. Sometimes we are asked to solve what appears to be a simple problem, but in reality the problem requires a system level intervention or a new perspective on the challenge.
4/ Deposit Positive Energy.
The National Academy of Sciences published a report on how positive moods can increase your ability to think creatively. According to Dr. Adam Anderson, senior author of the study, “If you are doing something that requires you be creative or be in a think tank, you want to be in a place with a good mood.” This is very true; in my experience I have never met a creative person that is full of negative energy. You need to learn to avoid people that are pessimistic and full of negative thoughts or insecurity that may impair your ability to nurture creative skills.
5/ Avoid Creative Brain Drain.
Stop watching mindless TV. If you feel yourself sinking into a state of numb acceptance, where you are not thinking or engaging in what you see, gather the strength to turn it off. Content is key but if it just washes over you, no one benefits. The key is to be aware of and engage in your surroundings, which includes what you watch, read and hear. Creativity can come from anywhere – you just have to be ready for it when it sparks.