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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 April 19, 2021

    The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

    The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

    Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

    The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

    Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

    In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

    When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

    Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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    1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

    When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

    As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

    That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

    The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

    What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

    Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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    There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

    So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

    2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

    When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

    No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

    3. Move Your Body

    A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

    It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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    So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

    4. Connect With Another Person

    Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

    One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

    Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

    5. Use Your Imagination

    When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

    That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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    And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

    Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

    Final Thoughts

    Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

    Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

    More on the Importance of Taking a Break

    Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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