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What Children Can Teach Us About Creativity

What Children Can Teach Us About Creativity


    Is your creativity getting low?

    Sometimes, we all hit empty. Searching for inspiration doesn’t always help. Neither does trying to just “work through it.”

    When the work needs to get done and you just don’t have the fire anymore, there needs to be a way to get the juices flowing again.

    As kids, we were never at a loss for creativity.

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    What did we know as kids that could help us now? A whole lot, actually.

    Playing as a Form of Therapy

    D.W. Winnicott, a psychoanalyst of the past century, suggested that playing was the key to emotional and psychological well-being. He devised a mode of therapy with children known as “play therapy.”

    The child leads the therapist in some kind of play activity until the child can trust the therapist enough and open up . However, the child must initiate the playing in a spontaneous way.

    Why?

    Because you can’t force playing, just like you can’t force creativity.

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    The Way That Children Play

    Ever watch children play?

    They’re constantly creating and changing rules for games they invent.

    And when the rules don’t work, they re-invent them.

    For children, a stick could become a magic wand, a sword and a lightsaber all in one afternoon. Kids don’t limit it to just being a stick because someone told them it’s a stick. Heck, they’ll use the stick to make a circle in the dirt and tell you it’s their secret base that you’re not allowed into. Then, five minutes later (when they get bored), you’re suddenly allowed in.

    They keep adjusting the ‘rules’ of playing until they work.

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    Changing the Rules of Teaching

    A few years ago, when I taught high school, I struggled to come up with a final assignment for my students. When I failed to find one that fit with my students, I decided to change the rules.

    Instead of a typical writing assignment based on class readings, I asked my students to create the ‘ultimate super villain’ and present it in two different ways. The only guideline? The villain’s attributes had to be based on characters we studied that semester. That’s it.

    The result was a production of their best creative work all semester. I was so blown away that for the final exam, instead of a “traditional reading,” I asked my students to read a Lifehack article and provide a response. It was the most enjoyable marking experience I’ve had.

    I threw out the rules of teaching and had fun. And the results were spectacular. All it took was a willingness to let my ideas go wild .

    What does This Teach Us ?

    Our best work comes when we’re having fun with what we do.

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    As adults, we get stuck in our heads, limiting ourselves to set rules and guidelines. Sometimes, you have to throw away the rules and just let things flow. Be spontaneous and do something different.

    Be yourself in your work. As a student, I hindered my creativity out of a fear to put my own voice in my essays. I depended on the voice of others because it felt ‘proper.’ But when I wrote with my voice, essays became fun to write, and sounded infinitely better .

    The second you stop following the prescribed rules, you’ll uncover creativity you never knew you had. According to Winnicott, only in creativity do we find ourselves.

    Don’t lock yourself within a set of self-imposed rules.

    Act like a kid: when the game doesn’t work, change the rules until it does.

    Now go play… and tell me how it turns out for you.

    (Photo credit: Boy Throwing a Paper Airplane via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on November 5, 2020

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

    You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. A rut can manifest as a productivity vacuum and be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. Is it possible to learn how to get out of a rut?

    Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, or a student, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

    1. Work on Small Tasks

    When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks that have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

    Whenever I finish doing that, I generate positive momentum, which I bring forward to my work.

    If you have a large long-term goal you can’t wait to get started on, break it down into smaller objectives first. This will help each piece feel manageable and help you feel like you’re moving closer to your goal.

    You can learn more about goals vs objectives here.

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    2. Take a Break From Your Work Desk

    When you want to learn how to get out of a rut, get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the bathroom, walk around the office, or go out and get a snack. According to research, your productivity is best when you work for 50 minutes to an hour and then take a 15-20 minute break[1].

    Your mind may be too bogged down and will need some airing. By walking away from your computer, you may create extra space for new ideas that were hiding behind high stress levels.

    3. Upgrade Yourself

    Take the down time to upgrade your knowledge and skills. Go to a seminar, read up on a subject of interest, or start learning a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

    The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college[2]. How’s that for inspiration?

    4. Talk to a Friend

    Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while. Relying on a support system is a great way to work on self-care when you’re learning how to get out of a rut.

    Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

    5. Forget About Trying to Be Perfect

    If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies. Perfectionism can lead you to fear failure, which can ultimate hinder you even more if you’re trying to find motivation to work on something new.

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    If you allow your perfectionism to fade, soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come, and then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

    Learn more about How Not to Let Perfectionism Secretly Screw You Up.

    6. Paint a Vision to Work Towards

    If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

    Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the ultimate goal or vision you have for your life?

    Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action. You can use the power of visualization or even create a vision board if you like to have something to physically remind you of your goals.

    7. Read a Book (or Blog)

    The things we read are like food for our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great material.

    Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. You can also stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs and follow writers who inspire and motivate you. Find something that interests you and start reading.

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    8. Have a Quick Nap

    If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep[3].

    Try a nap if you want to get out of a rut

      One Harvard study found that “whether they took long naps or short naps, participants showed significant improvement on three of the four tests in the study’s cognitive-assessment battery”[4].

      9. Remember Why You Are Doing This

      Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

      What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall your inspiration, and perhaps even journal about it to make it feel more tangible.

      10. Find Some Competition

      When we are learning how to get out of a rut, there’s nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

      Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, and networking conventions can all inspire you to get a move on. However, don’t let this throw you back into your perfectionist tendencies or low self-esteem.

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      11. Go Exercise

      Since you are not making headway at work, you might as well spend the time getting into shape and increasing dopamine levels. Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, or whatever type of exercise helps you start to feel better.

      As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

      If you need ideas for a quick workout, check out the video below:

      12. Take a Few Vacation Days

      If you are stuck in a rut, it’s usually a sign that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

      Beyond the quick tips above, arrange one or two days to take off from work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax, do your favorite activities, and spend time with family members. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

      Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest.

      More Tips to Help You Get out of a Rut

      Featured photo credit: Ashkan Forouzani via unsplash.com

      Reference

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