Advertising
Advertising

Revealed: 8 Secret Ways to Unleash Your Creative Genius

Revealed: 8 Secret Ways to Unleash Your Creative Genius

You may be one of those people who is naturally creative and can come up with creative ideas with ease. Some people are just a bit more predisposed to creative thinking than others, and that’s okay. It’s certainly something that can be exercised and improved upon.

We can get stuck sometimes when trying to be more creative and come up with better ideas. Here are eight useful you can train yourself to do every day to boost your creative thinking.

You’re more creative when you’re tired

You’re probably reading this thinking that I’m crazy, but it’s true. Most of us claim to be either night owls or morning larks, and think that we work best and most creative during those times. However, the opposite is true. You’re actually more creative during non-optimal times.

For example, if you’re more of a night owl, your brain is more likely to come up with creative ideas in the morning when you’re tired.

Advertising

Pick places with ambient noises and dim lighting

When I sat down to do work I always thought that being in silence would help to get me in my most creative state, but the opposite is true. I’m not saying listening to your music on max volume is the greatest. Think about the type of music you’d be hearing in a coffee shop. Creative thinking needs the type of sounds you would hear there to spark new ideas and “out of the box” thinking.

Some people work best in a room with natural lighting while others prefer to be in a darker area. I work best in a darker setting at my desk with candles lit. I am very relaxed and feel that is when I am the most focused.

Through research[1] I found that working in dim lighting can actually improve creativity. This particular study discovered that when around dim lighting, the participants were more creative.

Put two ideas together and make them one

When you compromise a few ideas you’ll usually end up disappointed with the result. It’s typically something no one likes or recognize. You have to approach it differently. It wont’ work 100% of the time, but try to to take multiple ideas, dissect them and pull out the key elements of each one, then merge them into one idea. Combining ideas is a wonderful skill to have.

Advertising

Put more constraints on time or materials when generating ideas

I had also thought that we tend to be most creative when we’re feeling free. Once again, I was proven wrong. By putting constraints on yourself, you can actually increase your creative thinking. When you have too many options or choices, it can be overwhelming. By the process of elimination, you’ll be able to focus and swim in creativity.

So go ahead and give yourself a deadline or limit the materials you can use for your project. Your creativity will thank you.

Don’t settle for the first idea you come up with

If you’re going to stick to the first idea that pops into your head, you’re selling yourself short. You’re not giving yourself the opportunity to argue against yourself. You want to ensure that you’re putting forth your best mental effort.

In other words, play devil’s advocate with yourself. Take the time to have a fully-engaged, well-structured look at your ideas before jumping into execution mode.

Advertising

“An ounce of preventative action now is worth a pound of corrective action later.” Todd Henry

Don’t get used to certain habits

You’ll limit your creative flow this way. Maybe you’re always going to the same coffee shop to get your work done. Or maybe you take the same route home every day. You’re a product of your experience.

The limitations you have are self-imposed, but they are false. When you force yourself to look past all which you know and feel comfortable with, you’ll start coming up with those breakthrough ideas you’ve been hoping for. Step outside your comfort zone.

See yourself as a creative person

Believe it or not, everyone is creative. It’s not abnormal to think that you aren’t, but by believing you aren’t a creative person, you really limit your creative thinking. It stops the flow of ideas and the ones you do have, you don’t believe are good ideas when they come to the surface. Even if the ideas are exactly what you’re looking for.

Advertising

Do yourself a favor, allow yourself to be the creative person that you are. Think back to the times when you came up with that great idea that blew your boss out of the water. Let it be a positive reminder that you are truly a creative person. Don’t wallow in the memories of times when you were struggling.

Keep an idea book

Have you ever had an idea while lying in bed, taking a shower, or driving? Great ideas can come at any time, so it’s important to write them down, so you don’t forget them.

An idea book allows you to document the ideas immediately. You can write down inspiring words, things you observe and bits of wisdom. Use it as a brainstorming tool. Carry it with you everywhere so you’re able to capture that inspiring idea when it comes.

At some point we all fall into a rut and become frustrated by not being able to come up with fresh ideas. The good news is that your creative thinking meter won’t be on E forever. When you’re feeling like you can’t pull yourself out, try incorporating some of these things into your daily routine to get yourself back on top. And most importantly, remind yourself that you are creative.

Reference

More by this author

Erica Wagner

Erica is a passionate writer who shares inspiring ideas and lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

6 Things You Can Do When You’re Mentally Exhausted Feel Like Your Brain Not Working? You Need To De-stress 4 Skills to Help You Read an Entire Book in One Day People Who Learn 10 Times Faster Know These 5 Techniques If You Don’t Want To Become A Toxic Person Unknowingly, You Should Quit This Habit

Trending in Brain

1 How to Build Strategic Thinking Skills for Effective Leadership 2 How to Avoid Binary Thinking and Think More Clearly 3 7 Ways to Improve Focus And Memory (Backed By Science) 4 Brain Training: 12 Fast, Fun Mental Workouts 5 What Is Unconscious Bias (And How to Reduce It for Good)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Published on July 29, 2020

How to Build Strategic Thinking Skills for Effective Leadership

How to Build Strategic Thinking Skills for Effective Leadership

Have you been thinking of how you can be a more strategic leader during these uncertain times? Has the pandemic thrown a wrench at all your carefully laid out plans and initiatives?

You’re not alone. The truth is, we all want some stability in our careers and teams during this disruptive pandemic.

However, this now requires a bit more effort than before and making the leap from merely surviving to thriving means buckling down to some serious strategic thinking and maintaining a determined mindset.

Is There a Way to Thrive Despite These Disruptions?

Essentially – yes, although you need to be willing to put in the work. Every leader wants to develop strategic thinking skills so that they can enhance overall team performance and boost their company’s success, but what exactly does it mean to be strategic in the context of the times we live in?

If you happen to be in a leadership position in your organization right now, you are most probably navigating precarious waters given the disruptions caused by the pandemic. There’s a lot more pressure than before because your actions and decisions will have a much greater impact these days not just on you, but also to the people who are part of your team.

Companies often bring me in to coach executives on strategic thinking and planning. And while pre-pandemic I would usually start by highlighting the advantages of strategic thinking, nowadays, I always begin these Zoom coaching sessions by driving home the point that this pandemic has now made strategic thinking not just an option but an absolute must.

Advertising

Assessing and making plans through the lens of a good strategy might require significant work at first. Nevertheless, you can take comfort in the fact that the rewards will far outweigh the effort, as you’ll soon see after following the 8 strategic steps I have outlined below.

8 Steps to Strategic Thinking

As events unfold during these strange times, you’re bound to feel wrong-footed every now and then. Being a leader during this pandemic means preparing for more change not just for you, but for your whole team as well.

As states and cities go through a cycle of lockdowns and reopening, employees will experience the full gamut of human emotions in dizzying speed, and you will often be called on to provide insight and stability to your team and workplace.

Strategic thinking is all about anticipation and preparation. Rather than expending your energy merely helping your company put out fires and survive, you can put the time to better use by charting out a solid plan that can protect and help you and your company thrive.

Take the following steps to build solid initiatives and roll out successful projects:

Step 1: Step Back, Then Set the Scope

One of the things that leaders get wrong during their first attempt at strategic thinking is expecting that it is just another item on a checklist. The truth is, you need to take a good, long look at the bigger picture before anything else. This means decisively prioritizing and stepping away from tasks that can be delegated to others. Free up your schedule so you can focus on this crucial task at hand.

Advertising

Then, proceed with setting the scope and the strategic goals of the project or initiative you plan to build or execute. Ask yourself the bigger question of why you need to embark on a particular project and when would be the right time to do so.

You need to set a timeline as well, anywhere from 6 months to 5 years. Keep in mind that your projections will deteriorate the further out you go as you make longer-term plans.

For this reason, add extra resources, flexibility, and resilience if you have a longer timeline. You should also be making the goals less specific if you’re charting it out for the longer term.

Step 2: Make a List of Experts

Make and keep a list of credible people who can contribute solid insight and feedback to your initiative. This could range from key stakeholders to industry experts, mentors, and even colleagues who previously planned and rolled out similar projects.

Reach out to the people on this list regularly while you work through the steps to bring diverse insight into your planning process. This way, you will be able to approach any problem from every angle.

Bringing key stakeholders into this initial process will also display your willingness to listen and empathize with their issues. In return, this will build trust and potentially pave the way for smoother buy-in down the line.

Advertising

Step 3: Anticipate the Future

After identifying your goals and gathering feedback, it’s time to consider what the future would look like if everything goes as you intuitively anticipate. Then, lay out the kind and amount of resources (money, time, social capital) that might be needed to keep this anticipated future running.

Step 4: Brainstorm on Potential Internal and External Problems

Next, think of how the future would look if you encountered unexpected problems internal and external to the business activity that seriously jeopardize your expected vision of the future. Write out what kind of potential problems you might encounter, including low-probability ones.

Assess the likelihood that you will run into each problem. To gauge, multiply the likelihood by the number of resources needed to address the problem. Try to convert the resources into money if possible so that you can have a single unit of measurement.

Then, think of what steps you can take to address these internal and external problems before they even happen. Write out how much you expect these steps might cost. Lastly, add up all the extra resources that may be needed because of the different possible problems and all the steps you committed to taking to address them in advance.

Step 5: Identify Potential Opportunities, Internal and External

Imagine how your expected plan would look if unexpected opportunities came up. Most of these will be external but consider internal ones as well. Then, gauge the likelihood of each scenario and the number of resources you would need to take advantage of each opportunity. Convert the resources into money if possible.

Then, think of what steps you can take in advance to take advantage of unexpected opportunities and write out how much you expect these steps might cost. Finally, add up all the extra resources that may be needed because of the different unexpected opportunities and all the steps you committed to taking to address them in advance.

Advertising

Step 6: Check for Cognitive Biases

Check for potential cognitive biases that are relevant to you personally or to the organization as a whole, and adjust the resources and plans to address such errors.[1] Make sure to at least check for loss aversion, status quo bias, confirmation bias, attentional bias, overconfidence, optimism bias, pessimism bias, and halo and horns effects.

Step 7: Account for Unknown Unknowns (Black Swans)

To have a more effective strategy, account for black swans as well. These are unknown unknowns -unpredictable events that have potentially severe consequences.

To account for these black swans, add 40 percent to the resources you anticipate. Also, consider ways to make your plans more flexible and secure than you intuitively feel is needed.

Step 8: Communicate and Take the Next Steps

Communicate the plan to your stakeholders, and give them a heads up about the additional resources needed. Then, take the next steps to address the unanticipated problems and take advantage of the opportunities you identified by improving your plans, as well as allocating and reserving resources.

Finally, take note that there will be cases when you’ll need to go back and forth these steps to make improvements, (a fix here, an improvement there) so be comfortable with revisiting your strategy and reaching out to your list of experts.

Conclusion

A great way to deal with feelings of uncertainty during this pandemic is to anticipate obstacles with a good plan – and a sure road to that is practicing strategic thinking.

In the coming months and years, you’ll need to continue navigating uncharted territory so that you can lead your team to safe waters. Regularly doing these 8 steps to strategic thinking will ensure that you can prepare for and adapt  to the coming changes with increasing clarity, perspective, and efficiency.[2]

More on Thinking Smarter

Featured photo credit: JESHOOTS.COM via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next