Creativity is like a muscle, the more you use it the better it gets.
All the great creative thinkers throughout history have valued the importance of developing daily creative habits, and constantly finding new ways to stimulate their imagination and thinking.
So I’ve put together five powerful ways you can quickly build your own creative fitness every day to continuously ignite brilliant I.D.E.A.S. for your creative projects.
- I = INCUBATE
- D = DISRUPT
- E = EMPATHY
- A = ASK
- S = SERENDIPITY
I = INCUBATE
One of the most important things we’ve learned from all our research about the neuroscience of creativity is the power of incubation time. But when you say to someone who wants to be more creative, “why don’t you go for a long walk” they can look at you like you’re going nuts. But this time of doing nothing, or doing monotonous activities is perfect for quietening down your executive brain network (the analytical and rational part of your brain) and allowing your default brain network to do some freestyle dancing. Out of this comes those random associations that underpin great ideas and create those “lightbulb” moments.
Things that you can do to “incubate” your creativity are:
- go for a walk, cycle ride, swim
- practice mindfulness, pilates, and yoga
- knitting, painting, cleaning, gardening
- take a shower (lol)
D = DISRUPT
Our brains are wired to find the easiest and fastest solution to any problem, which may not be the best option. And given our time-pressured lives, this is more the norm than the exception. So if you want to come up with new ways to solve problems, you’ve got to be able to press the “pause” button and disrupt your routine patterns of thinking. It’s possible to do this in an instant, and this is the underlying purpose of our brainsparker app.
Here are some easy things you can do to “disrupt” your brain:
- pick a random word out of a book, magazine or dictionary
- swipe through your Instagram/Tumblr feed and randomly pick an image
- play some disruptive music like heavy metal or rock
- change your environment and go somewhere you’ve never been before
- go to a perfume shop and try out all the scents
E = EMPATHY
Empathy is defined as having “the ability to understand and share the feelings of others.” When it comes to creating new concepts that address and solve challenges, the ability to step into the shoes of your user or key person of interest is crucial to your success. If you can feel what they feel and see what they see, you’re better able to shape a concept that will bring them happiness. And this is secret sauce for your success.
Here are some ways that you can use “empathy” to create better ideas:
- spend time with your user observing their habits and behaviors
- map out their journey and note high and low points
- understand how they currently feel, and how they’d like to feel
- learn what keeps them awake at night
- discover what makes them feel happy and fulfilled
A = ASK
Albert Einstein once said, “If had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes defining the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.” At the heart of great creative thinkers is an innate sense of curiosity about the way things are, and how they could be better. And one of the best ways to stimulate our creative brain is to ask questions, especially open-ended ones. We can ask these questions of ourselves, of our users, of important influencers and our teams.
Here are some great questions you can “ask” to trigger fresh thinking:
- what’s most important?
- what do you need?
- what do you want?
- what’s not working?
- what if….?
- how might we…?
- imagine a world where….?
S = SERENDIPITY
Victor Hugo once said that “All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come.” One of the things that constantly surprises us is the magic of serendipity. For example, lately, we’ve been thinking of ways of getting brainsparker into schools to help inspire creative thinking in our young people. This isn’t our area of expertize, but in one weekend three different opportunities popped out of nowhere – and this was while everyone was “incubating!” Whenever you get into the flow of a great idea, you’ll start to see possibilities where there were previously none. But you need to have your eyes wide open and be aware.
Here are some ways to strengthen your “serendipity” radar:
- think about a challenge you’re facing, and spend the day looking for “signs”
- think of a person you’d like to meet and see if they pop up in your path
- ask yourself a question and then spend 20 minutes meditating on it
- think about a resource you need, and see what appears in your email & FB feed
Now you have five powerful ways to quickly boost your creative fitness so that you can spark brilliant ideas anytime, anywhere and for any creative challenge.
Why not pick one or two and try them out this week!