Boosting Creativity Whaddaya know? There are 217 ceiling tiles in this room. And look at that — the piece at the intersection of the 59th and 60th tile has a chip in it. And Jim over there in the adjacent cubicle, well, he’s gotten up to use the restroom THREE TIMES already since lunch.

Sound familiar?

If you find yourself staring aimlessly at the ceiling or analyzing your co-workers bathroom habits at work, you may be suffering from a creative rut.

Coming up with new and inventive ideas each week can be extremely difficult. Sometimes we expect them to fall from the sky or magically be delivered to our desk but I’m afraid it simply doesn’t work that way.

Creativity is like a muscle: It has to be used and worked on a regular basis or it atrophies. {Tweet this!}

To help you flex your creative muscles and really get yourself in the “creative zone,” I’ve put together 10 creativity boosting tips to help you generate new ideas and solutions to any problem in your business!

Let’s dive right in…

1. Combine your creative channels. Use your expertise in one area and apply it to something new. Even though I’m a content writer, I know that improving my design and communication skills will also improve my writing. In fact, creative and successful people get nearly all of their inspiration from multiple victories in their lives A former athlete uses his training and teamwork skills to open a successful business. A soldier uses military principals to raise his children. A zoologist uses the principles of animal behavior to improve her nature photography. Crossing creative borders will help you see that skill and creativity are transferable to any new challenge.

2. Scope out your competitors. See what other people in the marketplace are doing. What type of creativity do they use in their direct mail pieces? How does their website catch your eye? Don’t aim to duplicate the competition, but do use their creative approaches as inspiration and motivation.

3. Work on your confidence. Being insecure in your abilities can suppress drive and creativity. If you’re afraid of making mistakes and taking risks because you think you’ll fail, you can fall into a creative rut. Build your confidence and you’ll find that thinking “outside the box” is not as daunting as you may think.

4. Go outside. Sometimes we hit a creative roadblock and become very frustrated. But there is a simple solution: Go out and explore nature. Many studies have proven that being outside and taking in nature can boost creativity levels. Even if you can’t leave the office for a full-on nature hike, simply go on a walk during your lunch hour. Exercise all of your senses, and let Mother Nature boost your creativity.

5. Put down the television remote and exit out of YouTube. The difference between watching television and listening to music or reading a book lies in the visual components. (Seems obvious, right?) However, it’s important to realize that watching television or YouTube requires little to no creativity. The person who created the video has already placed the creative elements/visuals there for you. Listening to music or reading a book forces you to come up with your own visual elements.

Think about it… when you read a book, you always put a face and “look” to each character. Even if the author doesn’t describe a character in detail, you still have an image in your mind of what the person looks like. You assign them a hair color, eye color, clothing style, and manner of carrying themselves. That is your mind doing the creative work!

6. Participate in a brain-dump. A brain-dump is exactly what it sounds like  dumping all of your internal thoughts and ideas onto paper. This technique may seem irrelevant at first, but it works extremely well. Here’s how to participate in a brain-dump:

A. Write down every thought that pops into your head for the next 5 minutes. It can be words, sentences, images, or even a short story.

B. Answer the following questions in less than 60 seconds:

  • What emotions am I feeling right now?
  • What color am I thinking of right now?
  • What is the biggest problem I’ve been facing lately?
  • What is the easiest solution to this problem?
  • What is my favorite animal?
  • Why do I like that animal?
  • Where is my favorite place to shop?
  • Why do I like shopping there?
  • Who is my biggest source of inspiration?
  • Why do I find this person so inspirational?
  • What 3 topics do I want to know more about?
  • What are 3 things I want to try?

This exercise will help get your brain going by spending a short time on a topic and then moving on to another. Sometimes creative slumps, like writer’s block, stem from your brain being fixated on one topic or problem. This exercise will help your brain create new ideas and unique solutions to problems that you may not have been able to think of before.

7. Try the “Six Hats” Technique. This psychological technique involves looking at a single problem from six differing perspectives. This exercise helps you produce more ideas from looking at a problem from multiple viewpoints:

  • RED HAT: Look at the situation emotionally. What do your feelings tell you?

  • WHITE HAT: Look at the situation objectively. What are the facts?

  • YELLOW HAT: Use a positive perspective. Which elements of the solution will work?

  • BLACK HAT: Use a negative perspective. Which elements of the solution won’t work?

  • GREEN HAT: Think creatively. What are some alternative ideas?

  • BLUE HAT: Think broadly. What is the best overall solution?

8. Find new sources of inspiration, or your “muse.” Inspiration can come from many different places  but you need to make the effort to find them. Search and take note of anything that makes you say, “I want to do that!” “How is that possible?” or “That’s brilliant!” Remember, inspiration can be found all over: in nature, in people, in music, in a special place, in a memory, or even in a totally unexpected situation. Be open for inspiration to strike.

What are some of my own sources of inspiration? Meeting new people, taking photos, listening to music, browsing Pinterest and other visual sites, visiting a place I’ve never been, and having discussions with friends and family. Those are a few of mine, but use whatever strategy or technique works best for you!

9. Take care of yourself and your space. Maintaining your body’s health and keeping your workplace tidy can have a tremendous impact on your ability to create and imagine new ideas. All creative people know that if your mind is wandering, or you are distracted, it’s nearly impossible to produce quality work. Make sure that your home, workplace, and body are not negatively impacting your work. Clean and organize your space, and always take time to exercise to help clear the cobwebs from your mind.

10. Be open to suggestions. Creativity comes with a sense of risk. Stepping out of your comfort zone and pushing the boundaries always comes with scrutiny and judgment. Try not to take the “critics” so seriously. In fact, be open to their suggestions. Who knows Someone might push you to come up with an idea that takes yours to the next level!

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Boost Creativity So, enough already. You have 10 ideas to enhance your creativity: Pick one and try it out!

I told you: Your next creative idea isn’t gonna magically hit you in the head. (But that cracked ceiling tile you spotted earlier just might! Get that fixed already, would ya?)

If you’d like even more ideas for getting your creative juices flowing, you can also check out “10 Resources to Inspire Your Content Creation or download this FREE eBook: “Side Door Thinking” to learn how 3 industry giants took a creative approach to earn themselves new revenue streams, industry awards, and more.

And if you try one of the 10 tips above and experience a creative breakthrough, be sure to share your story with me on LinkedIn or tell a friend.

Let’s all inspire one another!