Creativity isn’t magic. As you know the world is made of quarks, atoms and molecules. But yet when people talk about creativity it’s always a bit esoteric. Psychologists simply define it as a person’s ability to come up with a statistically rare thought.
In the last few months that I’ve spent researching creativity I’ve found that common sense is often correct but also sometimes just plain wrong.
In this article, you will get a leg up on your competition, with 7 actionable tips and tricks, to increase your creativity.
1. Discard Your First Idea aka. Brainstorm
Ask yourself is my thought common? Chances are it is. Ever seen a person with no ear, and wanted to make a comment about Van Gogh? I have. In a globalized world you need to be more thoughtful. What you’ll find is that a lot of creative professionals often come up with a bunch of ideas, most of which they discard. It’s a foolproof way to be more unique because you’d be surprised to find out how often our first thoughts are statistically boring.
2. Exercise is not a choice, it’s mandatory
What if I told you that on average only 20% of the population exercises. By extension we could assume that only 20% of artists exercise. Outside of physical fitness, the cognitive benefits of exercising 30 or more minutes per day are well established. So why not tap into that fountain of creativity? A healthy brain is a creative brain. All you need do to realize this is to look at the work of William Utermohlen who suffered from degenerative brain disease. Exercise is a simple way to be in the top 20% of artists and creative output even if you lack other raw talents for it.
3. Get To Work Before You Have To
People have different ways of becoming inspired. Some might thrive under pressure, some might flourish when relaxed. Psychologists call it the Yerkes-Dodson Law. The trick is knowing that a relaxed brain can make greater leaps between ideas than a brain that is under pressure to produce. Stress will help you focus but too much of it will keep you from being creative. So it is a good idea to take time with your projects – start early, finish on time.
4. What does Gambling and Accountability Have To Do With Creativity?
Get an accountability partner or become accountable for your actions, with the fear of loss. Although a lot of our productivity is fueled internally, some of it comes from the pressure of not wanting to let down people who hold us to a higher standard. If you don’t have such people then you may join a community such as Stikk. Stikk allows you to wager against yourself. If you fail to deliver on your promise to the Stikk community, they’ll take the money and donate it to a charity you despise or like. It’s a simple way to ensure you stay productive and by extension creative.
5. Your Smartphone Is Draining Your Potential Originality
Dr. Adrian Ward and researchers studied the effects of smartphones on cognitive ability. They discovered that the mere presence of our smartphones in the room (even if on silent) reduces our cognitive capacity. Now some of us don’t really care for our smartphones that much but if you’re one who’s constantly plugged in you might want to leave it another room the next time you plan to work.
6. Are you eating creativity?
You become what you eat. What we eat also affects our immediate cognitive ability. This is why it’s recommended that you never eat a heavy protein meal (have a barbecue) before you intend to work on a mentally taxing task. In a similar vein, it’s also not a good idea to start your day with a breakfast high in easy carbs. Because research shows that high sugar intake increases anxiety and depression. I don’t know about you but I can’t be creative and suffer an existential crisis at the same time.
7. Be Open to New Experiences
This might not be that hard for creative individuals but research suggests that openness, the personality trait linked with creativity, is subject to increase when trained to accept new experiences and ideas. Simply said, do things you wouldn’t normally do (within reason) and push yourself in ways that you wouldn’t normally push yourself. You will soon make connections you wouldn’t otherwise make, create art you wouldn’t otherwise have thought of creating.
Wrapping It Up
The trick with incorporating with these new habits is to start slow. Don’t focus on perfection but think about mastery. Failing til you achieve perfection.
What about you? What routines and rituals do you follow?
Photo created using Snappa
Guest Author Bio
Jonathan “John” Thatcher is an artist, computer science nerd, blogger and big-picture thinker. He blogs about visual arts, science and hard data at his visual arts website artfixed.com.