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…
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!
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
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.