Is your ability to be creative affecting your career? According to a recent study by Adobe, 62% of Americans feel that they’re increasingly being expected to be creative at work. As a self-employed freelance writer, I feel that pressure every day. If I don’t come up with ideas for articles, blog posts, and newsletters for my clients, I won’t get paid. Creativity is essential to my survival, so I’m always looking for ways to get better at it. Whether you work in an office or you’re running your own business, it’s essential to have innovative ideas. Here are a few of my favorite tips on how to generate them:
Stop stressing. Seriously.
If you tell yourself to think of a great idea right away, guest what? You probably won’t come up with anything, and you definitely won’t come up with anything good. When you feel stuck, don’t force it. Relax, breathe, and let yourself think about something else for a while.
Be ready for ideas when they come. Like now.
Always have a notebook (or a note-taking app on your phone) within reach. When you have an idea, even if it’s only half-formed, WRITE. IT. DOWN. It doesn’t matter if you’re in bed, half-asleep, and you don’t have the energy to find your phone. Make yourself do it. Never tell yourself “I’ll remember this in the morning!” 99% of the time, you won’t. If you tend to have good ideas in the shower, get a waterproof notepad.
Make a conscious effort to experiment with new things, as often as possible.
In the movie Arrival, a linguistics professor played by Amy Adams struggles to communicate with extraterrestrials, because their language is not just a different way to ‘speak,’ but a whole different way of thinking. I have always loved the concept that the languages we speak affect how we think about things, and I suspect that the same is true of every skill we learn. If you want to come up with new ideas, give your brain as much new input as possible, whether it’s by taking a French class or reading a great book or taking a dance workshop.
Spend time with people who aren’t like you.
If most of your friends all grew up in the same town, went to the same college, or work at the same company, make an effort to expand your social circle. Everybody experiences the world differently, and people from other cultures, generations, and backgrounds can help you see life from a new perspective. Listen to what they have to say.
p.s. this is how you rapidly increase the creative and career opportunities that present themselves to you!
Make self-care an actual Priority with a capital P.
That means fitting a good night’s sleep into your schedule, because you know you’ll feel smarter (and more creative) the next day. (Our EIC Lucy swears by a hot shower with these lavender shower tablets, lavender oil on your temples and wrists, and an electric mattress pad on a cold winter’s night). Self-care also means scheduling time to meditate, or even just taking walks, on a regular basis. Getting off your butt is more than just healthy—Wendy Suzuki, a neuroscientist, thinks it may make you more creative, too.
Shake things up.
Feel like you’re caught in a rut? Change something about your routine. If possible, experiment with working in a different location.
See what kinds of ideas you get when you’re sitting on the floor, or when you’re in a crowded coffee shop.
Try turning creativity into a game, and give yourself rules. If you have to solve a problem, set a timer for ten minutes, and see how many solutions you can come up with before the alarm goes off. Even if most of them are terrible, you might end up with one that works.
Make time to play.
Lighten up and be silly. Dance break in the bathroom, anyone? Think of your creative side as a shy kid who wants to come out and play, but needs a little encouragement. Be kind to yourself. The best mindset for creativity is one where you feel inspired, optimistic, and nonjudgmental. Let go of your worries and let the ideas flow.
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