3 easy ways to stimulate creativity when you’re feeling uninspired

It may seem that only the likes of Stephen Hawking, Arianna Huffington and Richard Branson ever generate ground-breaking ideas, and that they go through some secret, complicated process to produce them. Well first of all, you don’t have to be a millionaire CEO to be a creative genius. And secondly, there are simple, everyday techniques you can perform to tap into your creative powers and draw out your own brilliant ideas. These techniques are designed to allow your mind to wander. This means that you will come up with ideas without working your brain too hard. So let’s take a look at them…

Go outdoors

Creative mental blocks can usually be overcome by a change of scenery. This might mean simply switching from your computer to using a pen and paper. However, we think the most effective way to prepare your mind for creative thinking is to go outside in nature, tune out and let your mind wander so that you can practice mindfulness. Mindfulness means focusing your mind on the present moment to become aware of your body’s sensations; what you’re feeling, hearing, seeing, smelling and tasting at that exact moment. This straight-forward technique will force you to look at your situation more clearly, so that you can make associations and generate ideas. The more you practise mindfulness, the more data you will be transferring to your subconscious mind and the more your brain will have to work with to produce ideas. Plus, mindfulness leaves your brain wide open to make you more accepting of ideas.

So the next time you’re stuck on a problem, take a walk outside and take note of all the different things you feel, hear, see, smell or taste. What ideas do these stir as you relate them to your situation? Just make sure you take a notepad so that you can jot down any ideas that arise!

Get laughing

Yes, seriously. The release of tension you get when you’re in a humorous frame of mind loosens up your thinking to allow a wider spectrum of ideas to fizz through. Having an open mind will trigger your brain’s ability to make new connections between existing ideas, and create those ‘aha’ moments. Taking things less seriously is crucial for your creativity. In the early stages of your brainstorm, you should be focusing on quantity rather than quality, accepting all ideas regardless of how off-the-wall they seem. When you’re in a playful mood, you’re more likely to be less analytical and be more open to weird and wacky ideas.

Follow in the footsteps of author on creativity, Roger von Oech, and loosen up your thinking by making up funny mottos for your product, company or even yourself. It’s a great way to relax your thinking and warm up your mental gears for brainstorming. Roger likes to complete this exercise at the start of his seminars and conferences. Take a look at some of the examples below, taken from his book A Whack on the Side Of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative:

“We put the ‘cuss’ in customer.”
– For a large retail company

“When you’re not alone until you want a loan.”
– For an international bank

“Customer service is our number one priority: please leave your complaint at the beep.”
– For a major airline

Doodle away

When we think of doodling, we tend to imagine a bored child at school scribbling on their work instead of paying attention to the teacher. Doodling is generally viewed as a waste of time, a sign of being unproductive. But when it comes to creativity, this is far from the truth. Drawing and doodling will inject some playfulness into the creative process, which we already know is a great way of boosting creativity. Just like walking or driving, doodling allows you to tap into your subconscious mind. And it’s when you’re doing something completely unrelated to your problem that the solution will come to you.

Still not convinced? In a 1997 study by pharmacology professor Susan Greenfield, she discovered that groups of students who drew or sketched the details surrounding their problems could think clearer, more accurately, and develop smarter solutions than the group that did not. So the next time you’re faced with a tricky problem, take control of the situation by doodling your way around it. Try this approach:

1) Find a blank piece of paper and jot down your problem or challenge in the centre.

2) Write down any ideas or feelings that spring into your head onto branches, radiating from the central theme. These could be facts, general thoughts or possible solutions.

3) As you think, draw doodles and let your mind wander. Don’t hold back, let your imagination roam and see what it comes up with.

By doodling your problem, you’re literally bringing your thoughts out of your head and onto the page, where you will be able to view them holistically and easily draw connections between them to create more ideas.

The best thing about the three, easy techniques above is that they are things you probably do on a daily basis anyway. When turned into purposeful activities, they have seriously powerful benefits for your creativity. Instead of racking your brain for amazing ideas, give these techniques a go – you will be surprised at how easy it is to produce inventive ideas when you aren’t thinking too hard.

Sources: von Oech, Roger (2008), A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative, New York, Business Plus

Struggling to find inspiration? Discover the power of play

Creative Ideas

Looking to spark creative ideas? Our best advice is to take a break and play.

One of the key factors to any successful business is being able to come up with new ideas to keep processes, products and services fresh and to stay ahead of the competition. A very serious attitude can be harmful in the workplace; it can prevent you and your team from discovering the new idea that may lead to success. In this article, we will discuss the impact of play on creativity using four playful methods that will help you reach better creative solutions.

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Break the rules and foster a culture of innovation: ‘Reverse the challenge’ technique

Chris Griffiths Applied Innovation Course
Article by Chris Griffiths
Over the years I’ve worked with businesses from around the world, from start-ups to FTSE 100 companies, whose rules and bureaucracies have held them back from adapting to the changing dynamics of their marketplaces.
Despite spending time and money on implementing change, whether it’s improving customer relations or adding new products and services, they experience little or no improvement. These failed attempts at implementing innovative strategies can have a more damaging effect than not being innovative at all. If rules are never open to investigation or challenge, how can you ever break new ground? How can you see the merits of other approaches when you’re not free to look for them?
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Former Chairman of Microsoft Europe becomes new Chairman of Think Productivity

DropTask team with Jan Mühlfeit
Retired Chairman of Microsoft Europe, Jan Mühlfeit, is now the Chairman of OpenGenius’ sister company, Think Productivity. They are the creators of DropTask, the productivity enhancing application with a game-changing visual approach to task management. The company’s announcement came during their recent showcase at this year’s UK flagship digital event, ‘Digital 2015‘.

CEO of OpenGenius and Think Productivity, Chris Griffiths, said:

“Jan Mühlfeit has experienced great success during his career, and spent many years side by side with Bill Gates as they travelled all over the world. With a wealth of knowledge obtained throughout his career – as well as during his time as Chairman of Microsoft Europe, we’re lucky to have such a high profile and successful figure interested in getting involved with a start-up here in Wales. It’s absolutely fantastic for the Welsh community and in particular, our flourishing digital economy which is being showcased at this year’s Digital 2015 event – which we’re honoured to be a part of. I very much look forward to the road ahead. We’re in for an exciting journey.”
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Effective Innovation in Business

For more than 40 years, OpenGenius has led the way in innovation and creative thinking training. Millions of individuals and companies have benefited from our tools, techniques and training programmes. In this hyper-competitive economy it is crucial to be able to innovate quickly and effectively. With a thousand instructors in over 50 countries on 6 continents, we can provide the convenient, fast-track innovation training you need to meet these demands and succeed.

“Chris Griffiths advises the largest companies in the world to be better.” Forbes Magazine


Why OpenGenius Innovation Training?

Our training courses don’t just preach ideas; they are interactive, hands-on courses that get you applying powerful innovation techniques on day one. Strong innovation skills are essential in business, but organisations simply don’t know how to put them into practise. We show you where you have been going wrong, the specific mistakes to avoid and simple, repeatable processes for effective innovation.

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3 quick tricks for an extremely creative week

Kick-start your creative thinking this week with these three quick and easy tips…

1. Don’t open that inbox

Don't answer emails like a robotWhat’s the first thing you do once you get to work on a Monday morning? You open your email and immediately start typing out responses no doubt. While this might seem like the most productive thing to do, this kind of reactive thinking has a negative impact on your creativity and your productivity.
Reacting to your emails like a robot answering commands means that you’re not giving yourself time to think things through, to gather information or think innovatively. Instead, you are allowing outside influences to govern your focus. So, before you open your inbox, map out what you want to achieve this week and plan your time around it, not around your emails.

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The debate on daydreaming

Daydreaming at work is unheard of. It has a reputation of being unproductive and a complete waste of time. This simply isn’t true. Focused daydreaming is one of the most effective techniques for tapping into your creative powers and producing original ideas to solve any business problems. For this reason, I’m backing daydreaming in the workplace.

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