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7 Fresh Ways to Spark Creativity That You Haven’t Tried

7 Fresh Ways to Spark Creativity That You Haven’t Tried
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Being creative can be tough sometimes. Every day you show up ready to pluck a new idea from the depths of your imagination and sometimes they just aren’t there. No matter how hard you try, the creativity just doesn’t seem to flow some days. Of course it doesn’t mean being creative is completely out of reach at those times, rather it might just mean you need to try something new.

Next time you’re in a creative slump take note because today I’m going to share with you some fresh ways to spark creativity that you might not have tried before.

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1. Use Old and Unique Objects as Inspiration

There is a world of untapped inspiration in the thousands of old and unique objects that surround you. Every object has a unique story to tell of where and how it was made, what it has been used for, who has owned it, where it has lived throughout its life and how it has aged. Take a look through a family member’s attic, your local opportunity shop or a specialist antique store to find some objects to spark creativity.

2. Play With Color

Color is something that can really bring out your creativity, so do some experimentation and just play. Get out your paints, colored pencils, magazines, and paper to set yourself free with a color explosion. Don’t worry about creating a masterpiece—or even anything at all. Just doodle, cut, paste, paint and express yourself freely with color to see the creative inspiration start flowing.

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3. Talk It Out

Sometimes the best way to spark your creativity is to talk it out with a friend. Whatever is keeping you stuck is likely so because it is trapped within your own head. By getting your thoughts out there you make space for all your amazing creativity lurking in the dark recesses of your mind.

4. Experiment With Technology

Technology is such an amazing resource, literally at our fingertips, but how often do we truly tap into its power? Harness the power of technology to find some creative inspiration online within seconds: get digital with your visuals using image editing software, or play around with some digital beats. The sky is the limit once you introduce technology, and you never know how it might spark creativity.

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5. Play Like a Child

As children we’re taught to act more like adults, and as a consequence as we grow up we often lose that childlike wonder we had as kids. That childlike wonder is something special though, and it can be very useful for your creativity. To tap into your childhood creativity, let loose and play like a child! Indulge in make-believe, draw a picture just because, and fully commit yourself to exploring for the day. These activities have the potential to spark your creativity because they are all about doing new and different things without a set agenda or goal.

6. Take a Walk Somewhere New

It’s amazing the impact experiencing a new place can have. While you might not be able to travel to your dream exotic location today, you can take a walk somewhere new and bask in the experience of everything a new place has to offer. The sights, sounds, smells, buildings, plants, animals and people of a new place all have the ability to shape our ideas in entirely new ways and can be a great way to spark creativity.

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7. Do Nothing

It sounds a little counterintuitive but sometimes what you really need to do is nothing at all! By doing nothing you give your mind the opportunity to wander and that is when some of the most amazing creative connections are made. If you’re struggling to spark creativity, sometimes the best thing you can do is nothing at all—so sit back and relax!

Featured photo credit: Shall We Play? by PermaCultured via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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