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10 Surprising Ways To Fire Up Creativity

10 Surprising Ways To Fire Up Creativity

Creativity always eludes me when I need it the most. Maybe because it is because I rush to do work, and due to this hurried pace I end up doing nothing. I wrap up the day not finishing anything. My productivity goes down to zero percent.

This is why I’ve decided to cover this topic, and in this post we will explore 10 surprising ways to fire up your creativity.

1. Spend quiet time with God every day.

The time you invest doing this will definitely recharge your batteries. The creator of the universe is the most creative being. When you spend time with him, his creativity rubs off on you. Besides, when you have bonding with God, your stress, anxieties, anger, fears, doubts, and unforgiveness, all, will melt away. If you do this regularly, and you do it properly (I suggest you consult a pastor or a religious mentor so you’ll be guided accordingly), you will experience an overwhelming peace. The kind of peace Christians describe as “peace that surpasses understanding”. This tranquility brings about unbounded creativity.

2. Remind yourself that creativity is a slow process.

If you’re a creative like me, you know you need to be ingenious all the time to make a living. The truth is you need creativity to survive. Here’s the thing, when work has piled up, and you need to rush things, the problem starts, and it can escalate to an artist’s block if you’re not careful.

When this problem arises, it’s best to remind yourself about these ideas I picked up from Christine Kane’s article 21 Ways to be More Creative:

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When you want to do something creative you shouldn’t rush things. Creativity can’t be forced, but it can be cultivated and it can be allowed. It usually happens when your mind is open and receptive. So, upon starting to work on something, you have to let go of all little and big things that are currently bothering you. Shove them away from your consciousness and focus on just the task in front of you. If you need to call someone, by all means make that call. If you work at home, and you have to feed your pet, do it fast. If you need to water the plants, do it then go back to your desk. Take a breath, relax, then start working.

3. When you’re tired, your brain becomes more creative.

I know it’s counter intuitive, but your brain is more creative when you’re tired, not when you’re well rested.

“The reason behind this is that a tired brain struggles to filter out distractions and focus on one thing. It’s also more likely to wander off on tangents. While that seems like a bad thing when you’re working, creative thinking actually benefits from distractions and random thoughts. Research has shown that we’re better at “thinking outside the box” at our non-optimal times.” ~ BELLE BETH COOPERBUFFER

Cooper further illustrates the point by sharing an article from the Scientific American. I was dumbfounded to know that distractions are actually good for creative thinking:

Insight problems involve thinking outside the box. This is where susceptibility to “distraction” can be of benefit. At off-peak times we are less focused, and may consider a broader range of information. This wider scope gives us access to more alternatives and diverse interpretations, thus fostering innovation and insight.

4. Take a 20-minute walk everyday.

It’s true, exercise can help us get creative. We all know this. However, sometimes it gets to a point when we get too driven about working out. You go to the gym. You go biking, and go swimming. So you might say, what’s that, a 20-minute walk? You belittle the exercise and you doubt whether it’s worth the effort or not. Open your mind. Engage in a 20-minute walk and watch as the whole world unfolds. Witness the sun rising, observe the people as they prepare for another business day at the market. Stop for a while, and smell coffee brewing. Observe the movement of leaves as they fall on the street. Smell flowers as they bloom. Watch as the world slowly shows its beauty to you.

5. Creativity points to ambient noises as the best background.

I’ve always believed that silence is the best background for working on creative projects. My jaws dropped when I got a revelation: ambient noises with the right levels are way better for creative thinking than the sound of silence. Although, silence works well with a more intense focus, making it perfect for problem solving and with detail intensive tasks, creative thinking, on the contrary, thrives in places with cafe like noises. This promotes inventiveness, and broad range mental activity.

That’s the main point in having tools such as Coffitivity to deliver ambient café sounds to your desk.

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    6. Listen to a genre of music you have never explored.

    After watching Slumdog millionaire, I got interested in Indian music. Don’t worry, the Internet is a blessing when it comes to seeking for different kinds of music; even the hard-to-find ones. I got all the Indian music I could listen to from lastfm.com and other sites. New music has power to touch areas in our brain, aside from the auditory cortex, that produces chemical changes resulting to amplified creative abilities.

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    7. Constraints can be favorable to creative work.

    Many people especially those who are artistically inclined believe that freedom spells better creative results. They are proven wrong with the information that is about to be poured out. Cooper further explains,

    “Counterintuitively, it turns out that constraints can actually increase our creative output.” This is due to the fact that if the overwhelm of too many choices is removed from the equation, creativity will flow.

    Another way of defining creativity is the ability to transcend constraints. In other words, to be creative means to device a clever way of getting out from a difficult situation, or unleash a fresh idea to turn the lack of resources into an advantage. I’m reminded of the Ramones and the Sex Pistols when talking about this premise. They are bands whose lack of formal training became an advantage rather than a limiting factor. Film makers Spike Lee & Richard Rodriguez, are good examples of this definition too. Their first films only cost them an amount that is even lower than the price of a new car.

    8. Be silent.

    I know some people who can’t stand silence. However, in silence we can hear the voice of creativity. Well, maybe not right away, but if you do it more often, it will come. According to Christine Kane, here’s how to do it. After dark, light a few candles. Just sit quietly doing nothing. Watch the candles. The world has turn really noisy. Allow silence to rule your world once in a while. Drive without music on. Clean the house minus your headphones. Observe the plants and the flowers when watering. Just be quiet.

    9. Dim lighting makes us feel more free.

    Turning the lights low can allow us to feel more free. I know that’s not believable at first, but keep on reading. Soon you’ll be enlightened. Like the title of Hemingway’s masterpiece, a clean well-lighted place is the ideal workplace for me ’cause I’m astigmatic. I tend to prefer bright lights, whether natural or electric. I’m drawn to them especially when I need to read novelesque resources. Then, I got surprised by a research proving that the dim kind of lighting elevates creative performance.

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    Researchers had six different studies. All point to the fact that dim lights enhance creativity. The experts discovered that even if the participants don’t notice changes in visibility, if the lighting gets dim, they became more creative. What’s the logic behind this? The participants’ subconscious felt more free to explore: “…darkness elicits a feeling of being free from constraints and triggers a risky, explorative processing style.”

    In case you can’t control the lighting in your area, you can use your imagination. Envision yourself being in the dark and it could have an effect:

    “Other experiments found that merely priming the idea of darkness—such as by taking five minutes to describe an experience of literally being in the dark, and recalling how it felt—was sufficient to boost creativity.”

    10. Visit a gallery.

    I also got this idea from Kane. She says explore another artist’s work. Make a point to experience the artistry of a gifted individual in photography, or sculpture, or pottery. Just so you won’t worry, you don’t need to buy anything from the gallery. Just appreciating another person’s art will get your creative juices flowing again.

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    Anthony Dejolde

    TV/Radio personality who educates his audience on entrepreneurship, productivity, and leadership.

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    Last Updated on March 21, 2019

    11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

    11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

    Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

    You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

    But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

    To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

    It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

    “What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

    The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

    In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

    Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

    1. Start Small

    The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

    Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

    Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

    Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

    Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

    Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

    It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

    Do less today to do more in a year.

    2. Stay Small

    There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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    But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

    If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

    When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

    I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

    Why?

    Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

    The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

    Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

    3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

    No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

    There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

    What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

    Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

    This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

    This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

    4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

    When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

    There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

    Peter Drucker said,

    “What you track is what you do.”

    So track it to do it — it really helps.

    But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

    5. Measure Once, Do Twice

    Peter Drucker also said,

    “What you measure is what you improve.”

    So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

    For reading, it’s 20 pages.
    For writing, it’s 500 words.
    For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
    For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

    Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

    6. All Days Make a Difference

    Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

    Will two? They won’t.

    Will three? They won’t.

    Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

    What happened? Which one made you fit?

    The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

    No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

    7. They Are Never Fully Automated

    Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

    But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

    What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

    It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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    The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

    It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

    It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

    8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

    Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

    Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

    When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

    The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

    Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

    9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

    The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

    Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

    You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

    But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

    So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

    If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

    This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

    The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

    Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

    10. Punish Yourself

    Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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    I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

    It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

    You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

    No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

    The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

    But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

    11. Reward Yourself

    When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

    Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

    The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

    After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

    If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

    Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

    If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

    In the End, It Matters

    What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

    When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

    And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

    “Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

    Keep going.

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    More Resources to Help You Build Habits

    Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
    [2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
    [3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
    [4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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