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Control Creativity: Channel These Ways to Turn Your Creativity On and Off

Control Creativity: Channel These Ways to Turn Your Creativity On and Off

Whether you work in a creative field or just enjoy being artistic and creative as a hobby, it can sometimes be hard to work in the time you have available. We don’t always have the freedom to drop work, chores, or social obligations in order to follow our muse and see how artistic we can truly be. Check out these ways to turn your creativity on and off, and see how much you can control creativity.

1. Don’t over think anything.

Write down the first thing that comes to your mind. Defer judgment as long as you can; as soon as you let that critical side of your mind open up, you’ll be second guessing everything you do, whether you’re drawing, painting, writing, sculpting—anything! Just get something done before you look it over. The quicker you can get something done, the more creative you’re likely to be because you’re not letting the logical side of your brain take over.

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It’s so easy to let yourself over think every little thing, from what you’ll wear today to how your coworkers will react to your presentation. You second guess yourself once you consider your audience and what kind of reactions and critiques you’ll get. In reality, you don’t need to worry about this at all. Sometimes the craziest, strangest ideas are the ones that turn out the best, so don’t over think things on the front end. Creativity is all about you, so let yourself do whatever strikes your fancy. Have fun with it!

2. Look at things as if you were a child.

Remember when you were a kid and had to make up your own toys? I made dollhouse furniture out of bottle caps, boxes, and pipe cleaners. There are days now when I look at these supplies and wonder what I could make with them, whereas in childhood, I’d craft a table and chairs in no time. I used to color pictures of imaginary animals without worrying that they couldn’t really exist in our world. Do you have similar memories? Anything seemed possible when we were kids, but years of traditional schooling and falling into line in the workplace has trained us to think in a certain way. We have to think logically—everything has to make sense. We have to think in a linear manner—this leads to that which leads to this.

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Everyone says to think outside the box, but it’s harder to do than you might think. Instead of pushing yourself to think creatively, which will probably pressure and stifle you even more, look at things as if you were a child again. Nothing has to make sense, you just have to be able to imagine it. If you can think it up, it can be true. Use this whimsical, silly approach in your writing, art, and other creative endeavors. Letting go of traditional rules will help you feel more free with your creativity.

3. Find inspiration in everything.

Finding inspiration in anything around you will spark creativity. Let your imagination roam when you’re out and about, or even if you’re stuck inside your home or office! Look at what’s around you. The front yard looks a little overgrown, but instead of pushing away from your creativity and getting out the lawn mower, let your imagination loose. That tall grass would be a great place for elves to hide—maybe this inspires a story or drawing. Instead of sighing as you turn on your computer in the mornings, think of how things work behind the screen, and let your imagination wonder about how it was invented, what it takes to make it run, and see where your mind takes you from there. Instead of letting the mundane daily tasks get you down, turn them into something more fun and interesting.

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4. Strive for quantity.

The more you come up with, the more likely one will be worth exploring. If you’re a writer, don’t be afraid to jot down a dozen ideas, or start three stories at once. You never know which one will turn out to be your favorite. Don’t censor yourself and insist you just focus on one thing at a time—who knows what you’ll be missing out on! Same for visual artists: why limit yourself to one canvas or sculpture? Why not work on one until you can’t think of what to do next, and then start working on another? It’s only natural that being creative in one instance will keep your brain active enough to come up with more ideas, so don’t stifle that. Encourage yourself to come up with as many ideas as possible, and follow through on all of these to see where they take you.

Try any or all of these approaches to turning on creativity and see where it takes you and your art. You might be surprised with what you’re able to come up with!

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Featured photo credit: Johann Dreo via flickr.com

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What to Do in Free Time? 20 Productive Ways to Use the Time

What to Do in Free Time? 20 Productive Ways to Use the Time

If you’ve got a big block of free time, the best way to put that to use is to relax, have fun, decompress from a stressful day, or spend time with a loved one. But if you’ve just got a little chunk — say 5 or 10 minutes — there’s no time to do any of the fun stuff.

So, what to do in free time?

Put those little chunks of time to their most productive use.

Everyone works differently, so the best use of your free time really depends on you, your working style, and what’s on your to-do list. But it’s handy to have a list like this in order to quickly find a way to put that little spare time to work instantly, without any thought. Use the following list as a way to spark ideas for what you can do in a short amount of time.

1. Reading Files

Clip magazine articles or print out good articles or reports for reading later, and keep them in a folder marked “Reading File”. Take this wherever you go, and any time you have a little chunk of time, you can knock off items in your Reading File.

Keep a reading file on your computer (or in your bookmarks), for quick reading while at your desk (or on the road if you’ve got a laptop).

2. Clear out Inbox

Got a meeting in 5 minutes? Use it to get your physical or email inbox to empty.

If you’ve got a lot in your inbox, you’ll have to work quickly, and you may not get everything done; but reducing your pile can be a big help. And having an empty inbox is a wonderful feeling.

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3. Phone Calls

Keep a list of phone calls you need to make, with phone numbers, and carry it everywhere.

Whether you’re at your desk or on the road, you can knock a few calls off your list in a short amount of time.

4. Make Money

This is my favorite productive use of free time. I have a list of articles I need to write, and when I get some spare minutes, I’ll knock off half an article real quick.

If you get 5 to 10 chunks of free time a day, you can make a decent side income. Figure out how you can freelance your skills, and have work lined up that you can knock out quickly — break it up into little chunks, so those chunks can be done in short bursts.

5. File

No one likes to do this. If you’re on top of your game, you’re filing stuff immediately, so it doesn’t pile up.

But if you’ve just come off a really busy spurt, you may have a bunch of documents or files laying around.

Or maybe you have a big stack of stuff to file. Cut into that stack with every little bit of spare time you get, and soon you’ll be in filing Nirvana.

6. Network

Only have 2 minutes? Shoot off a quick email to a colleague. Even just a “touching bases” or follow-up email can do wonders for your working relationship. Or shoot off a quick question, and put it on your follow-up list for later.

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7. Clear out Feeds

If my email inbox is empty, and I have some spare time, I like to go to my Google Reader and clear out my feed inbox.

8. Goal Time

Take 10 minutes to think about your goals — personal and professional.

If you don’t have a list of goals, start on one. If you’ve got a list of goals, review them.

Write down a list of action steps you can take over the next couple of weeks to make these goals a reality. What action step can you do today? The more you focus on these goals, and review them, the more likely they will come true.

9. Update Finances

Many people fall behind with their finances, either in paying bills (they don’t have time), or entering transactions in their financial software, or clearing their checkbook, or reviewing their budget.

Take a few minutes to update these things. It just takes 10 to 15 minutes every now and then.

10. Brainstorm Ideas

Another favorite of mine if I just have 5 minutes — I’ll break out my pocket notebook, and start a brainstorming list for a project or article. Whatever you’ve got coming up in your work or personal life, it can benefit from a brainstorm. And that doesn’t take long.

11. Clear off Desk

Similar to the filing tip above, but this applies to whatever junk you’ve got cluttering up your desk. Or on the floor around your desk.

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Trash stuff, file stuff, put it in its place. A clear desk makes for a more productive you. And it’s oddly satisfying.

12. Exercise

Never have time to exercise? 10 minutes is enough to get off some pushups and crunches. Do that 2 to 3 times a day, and you’ve got a fit new you.

13. Take a Walk

This is another form of exercise that doesn’t take long, and you can do it anywhere. Even more important, it’s a good way to stretch your legs from sitting at your desk too long.

It also gets your creative juices flowing. If you’re ever stuck for ideas, taking a walk is a good way to get unstuck.

14. Follow up

Keep a follow-up list for everything you’re waiting on. Return calls, emails, memos — anything that someone owes you, put on the list.

When you’ve got a spare 10 minutes, do some follow-up calls or emails.

15. Meditate

You don’t need a yoga mat to do this. Just do it at your desk. Focus on your breathing. A quick 5 to 10 minutes of meditation (or even a nap) can be tremendously refreshing.

Take a look at this 5-Minute Guide to Meditation: Anywhere, Anytime

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16. Research

This is a daunting task for me. So I do it in little spurts.

If I’ve only got a few minutes, I’ll do some quick research and take some notes. Do this a few times, and I’m done!

17. Outline

Similar to brainstorming, but more formal. I like to do an outline of a complicated article, report or project, and it helps speed things along when I get to the actual writing. And it only takes a few minutes.

18. Get Prepped

Outlining is one way to prep for longer work, but there’s a lot of other ways you can prep for the next task on your list.

You may not have time to actually start on the task right now, but when you come back from your meeting or lunch, you’ll be all prepped and ready to go.

19. Be Early

Got some spare time before a meeting? Show up for the meeting early.

Sure, you might feel like a chump sitting there alone, but actually people respect those who show up early. It’s better than being late (unless you’re trying to play a power trip or something, but that’s not appreciated in many circles).

20. Log

If you keep a log of anything, a few spare minutes is the perfect time to update the log.

Actually, the perfect time to update the log is right after you do the activity (exercise, eat, crank a widget), but if you didn’t have time to do it before, your 5-minute break is as good a time as any.

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Featured photo credit: Lauren Mancke via unsplash.com

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