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The Minimalist Guide to Creativity

The Minimalist Guide to Creativity

We’re born with the idea that we’re either creative or we aren’t; that we’re either born with the gift to paint or compose great works of art or we’re not. Deep down you might wish you were more creative, so you could be known as the person who’ll come up with creative solutions to problems in the workplace or in your life. You want to create works from your core that you can be proud of.

The creative gene isn’t something only a few are blessed with, but something that we all possess. Some have just chosen to cultivate it more than others. Think of it as a seed that’s planted in your garde: For you it might just lay dormant, but others have been pouring nutrients and water onto theirs for years. I’ll show you how to nurture this seed in the simplest way possible.

Make room to create

So often, we’re forced to make a decision between the work that pays the bills and the work that allows us room to express ourselves. Often the work that puts a roof over our head takes precedence over the rest, so the goal here is to create a little space in your life to express yourself.

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This could be a practice of waking up 20 minutes earlier so you can write down your thoughts freely in the morning, or if you’re a painter, all it takes is a little more canvas time in your life after work. However you like to spend your time creating, just make a little more time for it. A few extra minutes is all you need to re-awaken this gift.

Engage in the process

After you create a little more space in your life, it’s time to engage fully. When you set aside this haven of extra space, make sure that you don’t fill it with worries of what else you could be doing. Treat this as a sacred time; a time when you are truly free from your obligations.

Once you have your instruments (pen, pencil, canvas, etc.), take a few deep breaths. The only thing you want to do here is engage as fully as possible. Be with the process of creating; watch your brush paint new worlds before your very eyes. Imagine yourself as a great painter creating the next great work.

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Any time you find yourself getting pulled away by a rogue thought, just take a deep breath and re-engage.

Don’t judge your final product

We’re often very hard on ourselves when we do anything creative, and stop ourselves from nurturing our gifts before they’ve even pulled out of the driveway. The important thing to keep in mind when engaging your creative muscle is that the process is the important part—the end result does not matter. The more frequently you play in this zone, the stronger you’ll get. Think of it as time spent in the gym: continuous sustained effort is worth more than a sporadic outburst in the long run.

Keep at it, enjoy the process. After a while you’ll be at the level you want to achieve.

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Allow randomness to happen

Without getting too “deep”, remember this is about letting the process take you. In the modern world we play within the realm of our rational mind 90 percent of the time—now we’re surrendering the wheel to our co-pilot.

When you sit down to engage, try not to force anything. Let the process of creation take you over and see where it wants to go. Instead of trying to paint a picture of a sunset, ask your brush where it wants to go, then follow the answer. Some might liken this to doodling, but if you ask the right questions you can engage your creative mind in ways you never thought possible.

This was a short guide into activation your dormant creativity muscle. A quick overview: create a little space in your life, be present, leave the baggage at the door, be with the process and let it guide you.

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You’re well on your way.

More by this author

Kevin Wood

Poet and Writer

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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