Nothing gets done without a good dose of inspiration. Whether you’re developing a new product, designing a website, or trying to decide how to set your company apart from others, you need to be creative. It’s essential to everything your business does and to your ultimate and continuing success.
Most people believe that creativity is innate. They think there are creative people and non-creative people. But the truth is that we all have the capacity to be inspired and apply that to our lives and our work. Innovative people are just more in tune with their imaginative side and know how to let it flow.
So, let’s take a look at 10 different ways you can tap into your own natural creativity:
1. Revisit your childhood
Go back to your childhood and try to remember all of the things you enjoyed doing when you were young. Think about the events, games and activities that you liked as a child. Are there any that you could start doing again today as an adult?
Try revisiting some of these activities and games to see if they stimulate your creativity. Frank Lloyd Wright, one of America’s leading modern architects, said that as a child he enjoyed playing with blocks. Physicist Albert Einstein also believed it was useful to think like a child when dealing with problems.
Children are naturally creative, and spend most of their time using their imaginations. As adults, we often forget how important play is in our lives… and its importance when it comes to creativity. When you get back to the things you did in your childhood, you can discover new ideas for stimulating your creativity.
2. Draw badly
Even if you have no drawing talent whatsoever, take an object, a person or a scene and sketch it. Do your best to make it look exactly like what you’re depicting. Try to get every detail as close as possible to the real thing.
Of course this is impossible for most people and you’ll fail miserably at reproducing the person, place or thing faithfully. But that’s not the point of the exercise. The point is to get you to look closely at the subject and its details
This exercise also helps you learn to express yourself because you can’t rely on your technical ability or talent. All you can do is try to represent what you see, the way you see it.
When you’re looking for inspiration, it’s usually good to seek quiet and disconnect from the world of non-stop digital information. But sometimes when you’re stuck for ideas, it’s good to do some online research.
If you have an idea but you’re not sure where to go with it, get online and research it. Learn everything you can about the topic and see if any new ideas emerge. If nothing else, you’ll gain a much deeper understanding of the topic and you’ll make more informed decisions as you develop your idea.
Another way research comes in handy is to check out the competition. Of course, other creative people aren’t your competition, but seeing what others have done can give you a good idea for making your work different.
If you’re afraid that you might get lost in the rabbit hole of research, which might hurt your productivity, put a time limit on it. Tell yourself that you’ll spend an hour researching and then an hour working. Keep the two separate so you make sure they both get done.
4. The Six Hats Technique
When you’re trying to come up with a new idea, there are many different perspectives to contemplate. A great way to consider every point of view is the “Six Hats” technique.
“Six Thinking Hats” is a classic book by Edward de Bono. It’s used by folks around the world to develop techniques of creative thinking in their businesses by making use of everyone’s intelligence, experience and information when thinking about the problem at hand. Most of us wear just one or two of these hats at all times; however, when you put each of the six differently colored hats on, you gain valuable perspectives that you otherwise wouldn’t have:
- The red hat is your emotional hat. Signifying hunches and intuition, the red hat tells you what your feelings are saying about the problem.
- The white hat is objectivity. Calling for information known or needed, this perspective looks at the facts only.
- The yellow hat deals with the problem positively. Symbolizing brightness and optimism, this hat is about figuring out what about a solution will definitely work. And what the good outcomes are if it works the way it should.
- The black hat is also known as the devil’s advocate. Considering which elements may not work and taking into account risks is the role of the black hat. This is probably the most powerful and useful of the hats.
- The green hat is your creative hat. Focusing on new ideas and possibilities or improving existing ones, this hat keeps looking for alternatives that may solve the problem better.
- The blue hat offers the broad perspective. Managing the process as the control mechanism, this hat helps identify the best overall solution to the problem.
5. Change of Scenery
The next time you’re wrestling with a problem or struggling to come up with ideas, try moving to another room of the house.
If you usually work in your home office, take your work with you into the kitchen. Instead of brainstorming at your dining room table, take your pen and paper out to the garage to look for inspiration. Even the bathroom could be a good place to create!
When you make a change externally, it affects you internally. Changing your surroundings can have a powerful influence on your mind. Something in the environment may trigger an idea, or you may just feel inspired by the change of scenery.
You may even decide to change your workspace for a project. If the garage is where your good ideas come, set up a small desk in the garage and make that your workspace for the duration. Choose the environment that best suits your creativity.
6. Think in Reverse
When you’re brainstorming or dealing with a problem, you think in positives. You’re thinking about what you want to create or the solution you want to achieve. But sometimes it’s useful to think in reverse.
Instead of thinking about the outcome you want, think about the outcome you DON’T want.
For example, you want to design a product that will solve a specific problem for your customers. One way to find that product is to turn it around and think about what would NOT help your customers. Sometimes thinking this way helps you better realize the qualities that product needs to have.
If you’re creating a work of visual art, you want to express a certain idea to those who see it. Think instead of the idea you don’t want to express. What associations do you NOT want to make in the viewer’s mind?
By focusing on what you don’t want to do, you can bring clarity to what you DO want to accomplish with your creative work.
When rock and roller Jerry Lee Lewis was learning the piano, his mother strictly forbade him from listening to any music. She wanted him to develop his own voice and resist the influence of others. To say that it worked is quite an understatement.
Sometimes it’s good to deprive yourself of input in order to cultivate your own original ideas. If you’re a novelist, stop reading for a while. If you play music, stop listening to music and try to hear the songs in your head. If you’re a copywriter, stay away from sales materials for a while.
Creativity is about producing and you can’t always do that when you’re reading, listening, watching or otherwise taking in information.
Deprivation can help you by giving you the space you need to develop your own voice or ideas.
8. Slow Down
Creativity requires you to be observant and a great way to become more observant is to slow things down.
Take any mundane task that you do every day and slow it down to a snail’s pace. Make your morning coffee exceedingly slowly, paying attention to each action and motion. Tie your shoes slowly and notice how each lace intertwines with the others.
When you slow things down, pay attention to each action you take and the way it feels. Pay attention also to your senses. Notice each sight and sound along the way.
This exercise teaches you to be more observant. Most of us miss great ideas during our daily life because we’re used to ignoring so much of what goes on around us. When you sharpen your observational skills, you don’t miss anything.
9. Sleep on it
Sometimes the best thing to do is just go to sleep.
If you have an idea forming in your brain, sometimes it’s good to just let it incubate. Don’t try to push the idea along when it’s not coming. Instead, have a little patience and put it off until you’re feeling fresh, it’ll be easier to deal with then.
In fact, sleep sometimes yields great ideas and inspiration. You may dream about your problem or creative endeavor; waking up with a great idea on the tip of your brain.
In those instances, make sure you have a notebook handy to capture all of your newfound inspiration. Like dreams, those nocturnal ideas can slip away before you have a chance to jot them down. Don’t let them get away!
10. Don’t Stop at One Solution
When most people are trying to reach a solution to a problem, they stop when they have a workable one. The problem is solved and they forget about it. But often, pushing further and seeking alternative solutions yields something better. It’s also a more thorough way of working out problems that cover all the bases.
The next time you have something you think is good enough, ask yourself if there is something better. For example, you have a good title for an article. Is there any way you can make it even better and more compelling?
Maybe you’re designing a website or planning a party and all the elements are in place. Are there any other little tweaks you could do that might improve it?
Thinking this way can yield better results, but it can also be a trap. Don’t search for alternate solutions so much that you’re never happy with any single one of them! Use this method to brainstorm as many solutions as possible so that you can choose the one that’s clearly the best.
And there you have it. 10 different ways to tap into your own natural creativity today. You don’t have to try them all at once or on one problem. Just pick one method, or part of one and give it a try – even for just a few minutes.
I hope these ideas were helpful to you. Now go have some fun with them!