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12 Simple Things You Can Do Today To Boost Your Creativity

12 Simple Things You Can Do Today To Boost Your Creativity

“All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning. Great works are often born on a street corner or in a restaurant’s revolving door.”

– Albert Camus

Whether you want to boost creativity for art, business or personal purposes, these techniques will help give your creativity and your project a kickstart. Choose one, two, or try them all! The magic of creativity is that there is no set process or rule book — it’s about experimenting, adopting a lateral thinking mindset and making an effort to start, no matter how ridiculous or bad you think your ideas are.

1. Combine opposites

Regardless of your reasons for wanting to boost your creativity, combining seemingly random concepts, ideas, words, and things together often produces something entirely original. If you haven’t got long to think up ideas and you have to be original and innovative, combining opposites might work for you. Many artists throughout history have used this technique as a method for creating original pieces. Mona Hatoum is one example.

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2. Realize that creativity is a process

Contrary to what many people believe, the whole lightbulb eureka moment often occurs as a result of a long process rather than being something totally out of the blue. If you want to boost your creativity, you can’t expect to be instantly filled with creative ideas. Write your ideas down, play, explore, and more importantly, recognize that creativity is a process that can be continuously developed and expanded.

3. Look at others in your field

I don’t believe in copying someone else’s hard work at all; however, it’s really important to be aware of other artists, designers, or businesses that you like. Ask yourself: What are they doing well? What do I like about it? What can I use as a starting point to develop my own projects? Become an expert in your field and make yourself aware of what others are doing — only then will you be able to spot gaps and different ways of doing things.

4. Don’t get a brainstorm group

Ever read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking? Susan Cain goes into great detail, backed with evidence that suggests that creative brainstorming groups actually hinder creativity, resulting in individuals in the group becoming less creative.

5. Use mind maps

Start with your central theme in the middle; create four sub-themes from the central point and start to expand each sub-theme further using singular words to illustrate your points. This doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s a good way of laying all your thoughts out in some sort of a visual structure you can look at clearly. You’ll also be able to see which areas need developing, changing or removing.

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6. Keep a notebook handy

Whether it’s your iPad, notebook or scraps of paper, this one goes without saying. You must write down or draw your thoughts, ideas and concepts, no matter how ridiculous or stupid they might sound. You might find that when you revisit ideas, they’ll trigger new ones you’ll then be able to expand upon.

7. Restrict yourself

Sometimes creativity can be stunted when you’ve got too much to play around with. Try limiting yourself; for example, providing yourself with a theme. Sometimes when people are trying to be more creative they can skim over the surface of lots of different ideas and concepts rather than really choosing to hone in on one.

8. Create obstructions

If you’ve got a spare hour or so, watch The Five Obstructions — it’s a documentary about several filmmakers who give each other obstructions to help boost creativity. You could employ the same technique whether you are an artist or not. The concept is about getting out of your comfort zone and doing things you usually do in different ways by giving yourself obstructions. This forces you not to work in a tried and tested manner. If you’re working in a group, you could write down rules or obstructions on bits of paper then take it in turns to pull ideas out of the hat.

9. Feel free

Exercise and get the endorphins flowing; smile at the little things; laugh more… Contrary to popular belief, being creative isn’t about being depressed and miserable. When you’re happy, you’ll feel freer and more responsive to the world around you, which in return will help to boost your creativity.

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10. Let your logical mind rest for a bit

Creativity is hard to pin down; there is no ‘one size fits all’ creativity-boosting rule book. So, when you find yourself cutting ideas off or telling others why something couldn’t possibly work, bite your tongue, because great creative ideas often have a ridiculous, totally illogical beginning. It’s how you respond to the idea that counts.

11. See the world through the eyes of a creative person

“Art is everywhere, except it has to pass through a creative mind.”

— Louise Nevelson

Spend the day capturing the world through a camera, paint spontaneously, dance, write down your observations. Take inspiration from a creative person you admire and imitate what they do for a day to get an idea of how they see the world. Sometimes just a slight shift in outlook can give your creativity a massive boost.

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12. Start now

Be a doer and certainly don’t stop yourself before you’ve even started. This one is probably the most important. Do something small each day to help you boost your creativity, even if this means simply writing down your thoughts and ideas. It’ll really help you in the long run. Creativity, after all, is a journey that can take many interesting twists and turns — you have to start it to really reap the results.

Finally, if anyone else has any creativity-boosting ideas, please share them below. I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you’re after further reading, check out lateral thinking author, Edward de Bono.

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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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