Don’t you love those days when your mind is “in the zone” and brilliant ideas and innovative solutions are popping into your head left, right and centre?
If only it was easier to tap into that energy and generate ideas on demand!
Next time you’re suffering from an ideas drought or simply having an “off” day, try one of these four simple methods for boosting your creativity and innovative thinking – it sure beats banging your head against the desk.
Sometimes the best way to come up with a new idea is to stop thinking about it. Research shows that when you use the analytical part of your brain, it switches off the centres in your brain that create those “Aha!” light bulb moments.
Have you ever been in the shower and a great idea just pops into your head from nowhere? That’s because your mind is working on solving your problem even when you’re not consciously thinking about it.
So next time you hit a brick wall, take a break and turn your mind to something else – go for a walk, hit the gym, read a chapter of a book or make lunch.
Are you an early bird or a night owl? Do you take the same route to work every day? Are chicken-and-salad sandwiches your staple lunch?
Think about your default daily routine and make a conscious decision to mix things up! Dr. James Kaufman from the University of Connecticut contends that people who are open to new experience are much more creative.
And don’t think you have to dive out of a plane or take up taekwando – simply trying a new food each day or taking a different route to work can have the desired effect.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of approaching a problem from a single, limited perspective, without even realising you’re doing it. This is where a technique known as the “six hats” comes in handy – it helps you see your problem from six entirely different angles.
Spend five minutes “wearing” each hat and jot down your ideas on six pieces of paper.
White hat: Objective thinking. What are the facts? What data and information do you have?
Red hat: Feelings and emotions. Rely on your gut instinct or intuition here.
Green hat: Creative thinking. Silence your inner critic and let your imagination run wild!
Yellow hat: Optimistic thinking. What are the benefits? What’s the potential?
Black hat: Be cautious. What are the risks? Where might things go wrong?
Blue hat: Time to process it all. What are your summaries, conclusions and decisions?
It can be hard to remain positive and stress-free when faced with a seemingly insurmountable task or problem – but research shows it’s really important to do just that. It seems that our best creative work is done when we’re in the best mood. So take the time to reflect on your current emotional state.
Could you do with a little positivity boost? Spare five minutes to watch a funny cat video, get some fresh air or recall a fond memory with someone you love. It may feel a little cheesy, but keep an open mind and you will notice the impact it has on your work.
About Elyse Gorman
Elyse is a writer, coffee drinker, philosophy student and happy soul. She graduated with a double degree in Media (Writing) and Law with Honours, and was lucky enough to study at the University of Verona in Italy where her notes were often stained with pizza grease and wine. After spending a few years working tirelessly as a lawyer, Elyse is currently freelance writing and undertaking studies in Digital Marketing (and learning calligraphy to boot). She is generally overly content with life and has a love of to-do lists, wisdom, self-improvement, banana bread, dawn and dusk, relationships, finding happiness, yoga and wellbeing.