- Developing Creativity
- 1. Believe in your own capability
- 2. Identify your own ideas first
- 4. Associate with children
- 5. Play games, puzzles or physical sports
- 6. Focus on hobbies
- 7. Actively travel
- 8. Selectively read
- 9. Reading actively
- 10. Commence creative writing
- 11. Conclusion
- About the Author
- 16 scientifically proven ways to enhance your creativity
- Put your phone away
- Keep working at it even if you feel you are reaching a creative cliff
- Surround yourself with green and nature
- Reduce your inhibitions and improvise
- Let your mind wander
- Get into a flow state
- Expose yourself to new experiences
- Understand your own biases and those of others
- Make sure your basic needs are being met
- Incubate and allow the natural creative process to work
- If you get stuck, move on to a completely different task for a while
- Do new things every day, week and month
- Get sarcastic, as long as your team makes it safe
- Take a walk or a shower
- Brainstorm individually before discussing as a group
- Remind yourself that you are creative
You can improve your creative ability by exercising it in the same way that you master memorising names or learning a new language.
Exercising the right side of your brain will inevitably develop your imagination and assist in developing creativity and creative thinking skills. Listed below are some ideas for exercising your creative ability, but a word of caution, they will only benefit you if you truly want to improve your creativity!:
1. Believe in your own capability
Our mind is an amazing machine and our belief system impacts on our capabilities ‘to do’ and learn. Telling ourselves that we are creative and have the capability to generate ideas, will ensure that we do not put any psychological barriers in the way of generating great ideas. The right side of our brain provides the capability to generate ideas, if we merely use and exercise it.
2. Identify your own ideas first
When you need to come up with ideas or solutions, try to avoid going to the creative people you may have tended to rely on in the past. Take time to come up with ideas and solutions yourself first. In this way, you will naturally develop your imagination.
Creative people tend to have the power to see what might be and associating with them will spark new ideas and ways of looking at things. Look for people who are fun to talk to and have a keen sense of interest in life.
An individual who will force you to exercise your imagination, as you interact with them.
Talking with a wide range of people from different disciplines, backgrounds, cultures and experiences will help you to see things from different perspectives and develop your imagination.
4. Associate with children
Pre-school-age children are the most ideal to mix with, as they generally use both sides of the brain although preferences do start to form at an early age. Their world is filled with fantasy and yours will be too, if you interact with them and explore their world and how they see simple, everyday things.
5. Play games, puzzles or physical sports
Certain games and puzzles can equip you with plenty of opportunity to flex your creative muscles. Games that force you to map out strategies and make moves that depend on what your opponent does. Games of chess and checkers are both good examples, as well as physical sports such as football, basketball and tennis – all of which provide creative exercise.
6. Focus on hobbies
Identify or use a current hobby to exercise your creativity. Hobbies such as painting, drawing or sculpture will obviously put your creative side to work.
Any hobby where you need to design something from scratch will provide creative exercise, e.g. sewing, metalwork, woodwork, DIY.
However, for those more scientifically inclined, technical hobbies can provide creative exercise, when designing or building something new, e.g. writing new computer programmes.
7. Actively travel
There’s no better way to broaden and refresh your outlook, than active travel. This means taking a real interest in the people, the culture of wherever you are travelling to. Capturing your travel with photographs, and reflecting on your experiences through those photographs, can inspire great ideas
8. Selectively read
Reading selectively means choosing material that will exercise your imagination such as a good mystery or a short story.
One way to exercise your imagination with short stories is to read the first half and make up your own ending.
Cookbooks, repair manuals and self help guides can also be used for creative exercise if you take the ideas presented and improve them by adding, modifying or combining them with ideas of your own.
9. Reading actively
This means reading with a pencil in your hand and underlining the key passages as you go. Read slowly and take notes, taking time to reflect on what you have read, increasing the probability of generating new ideas. Create a mind map for example, as you read to develop your thinking.
10. Commence creative writing
You don’t have to be a published author to write. Writing short pieces on a subject that interests or concerns you is a great way to develop your creative thinking ability. You may then feel comfortable to let your imagination wander to write a short story.
Finding ways of developing your creativity through every day experiences is a great, time efficient way of exercising the right side of your brain. Once you practice this over a period of time, it will become much easier to tap into your “creative side”.
About the Author
Kim Larkins, MCIPD is Company Founder of KSL Training. Kim has 30 years training and HR management experience in the Retail, Hospitality and Pharmaceutical industry.
Send us an email and we’ll be in touch shortly, or phone between 9:00 and 17:00 Monday to Friday.
16 scientifically proven ways to enhance your creativity
People often think that science and creativity are not related.
In fact, over the past few decades, a huge amount of research has begun showing us exactly what causes our creativity, what reduces it, and even what enhances it.
In this article, I want to highlight some of my favourite examples of scientific research which can help you enhance your creativity.
Here are 16 scientifically proven ways to enhance your creativity.
Put your phone away
We humans are so easy to distract. So much so that a recent study has shown that simply having your phone nearby, or especially on your desk, can make you perform worse. Do yourself a favour and put the phone in another room if you want to get creative work done.
Keep working at it even if you feel you are reaching a creative cliff
People have a natural tendency to feel their creativity is falling the longer they work on a problem.
They expect that spending additional time will be worthless since their future ideas won’t be as good as those they already produced.
This is the creative cliff illusion, and research shows that your best ideas are probably still to come if you push past your comfort barrier and keep working a little longer.
Surround yourself with green and nature
Research by Dr Mark Batey has shown that if you surround yourself with images of nature, or even a view of plants, your creativity will increase. So whether you manage to take a walk in the park or just a picture of a natural landscape on your desk, it can help you get that next big idea.
Reduce your inhibitions and improvise
One of the most advanced, highly-evolved parts of the human brain is the Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex, which helps assess risk and keep us safe by preventing us doing stupid things.
However, this part of the brain also inhibits our behaviour, and even censors out ideas before you can become aware of them.
Brain scans of people improvising jazz piano or freestyle rap shows that this part of the brain actually becomes less active when these performers become spontaneous, which teaches us that if you disinhibit yourself (allow yourself to be a bit more free) it will also make you more creative.
Let your mind wander
People nowadays don’t to be bored. We are so used to constant distractions from our media and phones that it can even become a little uncomfortable to just let our mind wander.
In fact, many men would rather electrocute themselves and be alone with their thoughts.
But research shows that allowing yourself to be bored can result in improved creative performance afterwards, and there is a lot of research showing the positive connection between mind wandering and creativity.
Get into a flow state
A flow state is where the activity you are engaged in is a perfect match between your current skill level but enough challenge to keep it interesting. Throughout time, many of the world’s most creative people have noted that while they were in a state of flow, time seemed to disappear and they could produce their best creative work.
Expose yourself to new experiences
Our brain is so effective at spotting and developing patterns, that it becomes more effective to just run on autopilot for most of our lives. If you do a simple activity which is unexpected, or gives you a new experience, research shows that this can break you your routine and result in higher creative performance afterwards.
Understand your own biases and those of others
Since the brain wants to work with patterns, we have as a species evolved hundreds of biases and heuristics as shortcuts on how to make decisions.
While these can sometimes help us in our everyday lives, there are dozens of biases which actually hurt our ability to create new ideas, since these are more ly to be risky compared to what already exists.
This is even more true when assessing ideas from other people, where we have biases which specifically make creative ideas appear disgusting. By being aware of our biases, we can approach problems with a more open mind, and allow ourselves to think more creatively.
Make sure your basic needs are being met
The human body is just any other animal: it wants to make sure its basic needs are met before investing energy and focus into curiosity and coming up with creative new ideas.
Creativity is actually one of the highest forms of thinking, meaning that more basic needs eating, shelter, safety and sleep need to be fulfilled before we can concentrate our efforts on producing creative work. This is not just true for humans.
Animals have shown they are more curious if their basic needs are met.
Incubate and allow the natural creative process to work
Do you even feel your best ideas come nowhere, the famous Eureka moment? The scientific reason for this is that the brain is working on challenges in both the conscious and subconscious.
Often, while you are not thinking about a problem, your subconscious is still trying new connections and forming new pathways in a process called incubation. This might then finally result in an idea coming into your consciousness as if nowhere.
By learning how your creative process works, you can make it more ly to get those great new ideas.
If you get stuck, move on to a completely different task for a while
Sometimes if you are trying to force an idea, it just will not come to you. In this case, try moving away from the activity and do something completely different for a while.
But make sure it is something that does not require 100% of your focus.
If your mind can wander a little bit while you do a repetitive task, you are more ly to incubate new ideas in the background and come up with a creative solution afterwards.
Do new things every day, week and month
Sometimes it is not enough to just think about new ideas. You need to do something with them, and practice them. This is why every day you should challenge your own creativity and be creatively productive, every week you should shake off your routine and get new knowledge, and every month you should publish something to get over your fear of perfectionism.
Get sarcastic, as long as your team makes it safe
You understand sarcasm, right? Well research shows that speaking sarcastically in a team can actually make them more creative, as long as that team has Psychological Safety. Psychological Safety is also a prerequisite for teams to produce their most creative work and try new things along the way. Here is how you can foster Psychological Safety.
Take a walk or a shower
Why do people get their best ideas in the shower or when walking? It is because their brain can go into a lower-frequency alpha state, which is when it is best able to form the new connections required for divergent thinking. So if you want to be more creative, make sure you allow yourself the time to get away from screens and into an alpha state every day.
Brainstorm individually before discussing as a group
Brainstorming is meant to be the ultimate way for groups to be creative. But ironically, traditional brainstorming actually makes groups LESS creative. But by taking on board some scientifically backed methods for improving brainstorming sessions, allowing each individual to write down their ideas first, the outcomes from the group can be significantly more creative.
Remind yourself that you are creative
You are creative. No matter whether you feel are aren’t, you are less creative than you used to be, or if you think you are not creative because you are not artistic, you were born with the ability to come up with creative new ideas. Just remind yourself that you have the permission to try new things, to fail and improve, and that you can continuously improve your creativity as well.