Feeling Uncreative? Here's 5 Habits That BOOST Your Creativity (They're Backed By Science, too)
Have you ever sat in front of that white paper that's laying on your desk..
And trying to come up with something genius...
And suddenly this very paper slowly starts turning into this evil sharp-edged enemy of yours..
It starts making fun you and pointing at you with its non-existant imaginary fingers..
Until all you want to do is let your pencil fall to the floor in defeat..
And crawl back to bed in fetal position?
Ain't no more!
The 5 habits I'm about to share with you are gonna give your creativity such a PUSH..
that you'll have to be careful you don't fall over!
Not only will you have a MUCH easier allowing your creative side to come through...
Soon, the evil white paper will not be laughing at you..
YOU will be laughing at IT!
Because it ain't no longer blank, baby!
Let's dive right in!
1. Meditation - silence the mind & make space for something awesome!
Now that was unexpected.
You might have 100 question marks popping up over your head now,
What on EARTH does THAT have to do with creativity!?!?!
Well, I'd suggest you read this smart quote, first:
“Make an empty space in any corner of your mind, and creativity will instantly fill it.”
– Dee Hock
Being in a relaxed state is essential for your creative side to come through.
Because if your mind is full of worry.. there's simply no space for creativity!
If your energy is scattered.. it takes much more effort for you to come up with creative solutions!
Makes sense, huh?
"Oh, I haven't called Susie back yet!"
"Damn, did I buy any tomatoes? Shit I think I don't have any left for dinner tonight!"
"Hm, I should probably start studying for the physics exam on Friday.. Or maybe.. I'll just do it tomorrow"
Now, during meditation, you stop engaging in those hectic thoughts that pop up in your mind throughout the day.
And I know what you're thinking.
The word "meditation" can sound a little "woo woo" at first;
reminding you of some beardy yogis on a mountain in the middle of nowhere;
sitting in a circle with their eyes closed an chanting "OMMMMMMMMMMMMMM...."
But meditation is much more than that, nowadays.
It can serve as a tool to silence the on-going - and hella distracting -chatter of your mind...
And become present to the moment.
In fact, many highly successful and creative people meditate on a daily basis - simply for its amazing benefits.
Meditation is beneficial for a number of reasons:
it helps you be more in touch with yourself and have more control over your thoughts & feelings (say hello to a sense of inner peace!)
it strengthens your so-called "prefrontal cortex": it becomes easier for you to stay focused (razor sharp focus, baby!)
it helps you to re-focus if your thoughts have been all over the place beforehand (bye bye confusion)
So you can use meditation
All of this SO critical for the creative process!
Plus: IT'S SO EASY!
Here's one way of setting up a meditation practice:
set a timer for 10-20 min
close your eyes
focus on your breath
Sounds basic. And it is. It's simple.
But as you'll notice very soon:
Your mind loooves coming up with all kinds of stories to distract you...
"What am I even doing here?"
"This is boring"
"I should do something else instead"
Every time you notice yourself getting carried away by your thoughts..
just lovingly direct your attention back to your breath.
Remind yourself that you are here; now.
Meditating. Breathing. Being.
Sitting on a planet in the midst of infinite space.
And that's why it's called a meditation practice:
You practice being in the present.
Not in the stories of the past or the future,
but in the now.
That's how you show up as your most creative and naturally productive self!
2. Movement & Physical Exercise - get the creative juices flowin'!
Have you ever noticed that you get some of your best thoughts when you’re on a walk, at the gym, doing yoga, or running in the forest?
You're casually doing you're squats..
And at the 10th rep, there's suddenly this idea and you're like "omg I HAVE TO DO THIS!!"
Ever happened to you?
It’s because when the body is in motion - similarly to meditation - the mind re-focuses and stops stressing about random things (such as the tomatoes you forgot to buy at the supermarket).
Moving your body helps your mind to re-focus and become present.
Physical exercise increases blood (oxygen) flow to the brain for improved cognitive function.
In other words: it gets your creative juices flowing!
Of course, that doesn't mean you have to become a hardcore gym junkie and spend hours on the treadmill from now on.. just to be more creative.
Even just taking a simple walk can work wonders!
In fact many creative geniuses (such as Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Satie) believed in walking around for a couple of minutes each day - to spark brilliant new ideas!
And a Stanford study from 2014 scientifically backs this:
daily walks increase creative output by 60%!
Are you still a suspicious little couch potato?
If so, well let me sum up and see if I can convince you...
Benefits of physical exercise:
helps you focus and be present (ain't got no time for past drama + future fears... let's do the best we can, now!)
increases oxygen flow to the brain for cognitive function (your brain works better + more efficiently)
endorphinssssssss!!! you become happier (you can focus on creative tasks afterwards more easily) ... plussss they enhance our desire to explore and play :-)
3. The Mindset - switching to "playful-mode"
Aaand another one that's been an absolute game-changer for me.
The way we approach creative tasks!
Do you sometimes find yourself stuck in a battle against your inner self-critics and -doubters?
Often times, we're very much "in our head";
struggling with our thoughts, overthinking...
Not realizing that we're wasting a ton of our precious energy.
It's like we're on our way to the train station;
but we left the house WAY too late.. so we're in a hurry.
Running running running, because we still want to catch the darn train!
But we've also got high-heels on.. and the bag we're carrying is heavy as hell.
Doesn't sound quite that promising, right?
But what do we do about it?
Well, we either learn to leave to house earlier..
put on some comfy sneakers in which we can sprint like a puma..
.. or we just leave that heavy ass bag at home!
If we just make these 3 simple changes, our chances of catching the train go up by like 200%.
So the takeaway of this is:
Stop the inner battle!
It HINDERS you from finding inspiration!
And what is even more significant: from taking action!
You see, we carry around aall this unnecessary baggage .
We put this pressure on ourselves to come up with our next "big thing"..
And it does nothing but BLOCK us!
Emotional pressure actually causes something called prefrontal cortex dysfunction.
So next time you need to be creative.. CHILL OUT.
Don’t cause yourself stress.
Here are a few reminders that will help you shift your mindset:
You don't have to have it all figured out. You might not come up with THE perfect idea (or solution) right away. And that's completely FINE!
Making a mess doesn't make YOU a mess. It's okay (and actually important!) to make a mess sometimes. HAVE FUN!
Don't make it about creating a "perfect masterpiece". This shuts down the door to soooooo many different possibilities. Whatever you're working on, see it as both: a masterpiece and a work in progress.
Try different approaches. Experiment. That's how you figure out what works.
Go with the flow. Your initial idea might change it's shape or form as you start realizing it. Embrace the process.
4. Being Organized - structure sets you free!
Contrary to the cliche that creatives live rather "chaotic" lives..
I actually found the opposite to be true!
Many highly creative people schedule their daily routines.
I think you and me both know that if creatives where in fact as "chaotic" as they say; Bullet Journals would probably not be trending right now!
But having said that, you surely don't need a fancy ass looking bullet journal to get some organization going in your creative life.
Do you know the struggle of those days... when you have like 6750 ideas at once...
but you have NO IDEA as of where to start?!
And then on other days you just fall victim to the terror of the blank white paper that I mentioned in the beginning of this blogpost...
Here's one simple way to deal with that vicious cycle.
Make an idea-list!
Sounds pretty basic, I know -
But it's freaking genius.
Just create a folder in your phone-notes..
where you can collect alllll of your ideas.
And the next time your idea flow overwhelms you again.. you can just "brain dump" everything in there.. Do you know how freeing that actually is?!
PLUS whenever your brain feels empty... tadaaa!
You have all kinds of cool ideas to pick from..already prepared in one place.
Instant-inspiration factor guaranteed!
I personally make it work this way:
My folder is called "Art ideas" and currently consists of 85 notes of me describing projects I want to create; or titles of e.g. future paintings.
Whenever I feel uninspired..
I simply go through the ideas I have written down and...
My creative brain cells get goin', the creative juices start flowin'!
I'm prepared for every creative block that's to come!
(or at least I would like to think so)
Creative freedom and staying organized are two very different things.
Structure doesn't constrict you. It sets you free!
5. Music - aka. finding your creative jam
Throw on some music!
Maybe not the kind of music that makes you want to get up and start practicing your favorite shuffle moves...
But what about something .. that actually improved your creative performance?
There's a gazillion studies out there about how music impacts us and our mood.
According to the research a "moderate level of ambient noise" (around 70 decibels or 50-80 beats per minute) works best:
it boosts your abstract thinking abilities!
And sure, taste in music is very different for everyone.
Some might call trap music "passive-aggressive total-crap" ..
While others get all fired up by that SKRT SKRT.
(#nooffense btw - whatever side you're on)
However, when it comes to being more creative..
A general guideline would be to listen to upbeat songs in moderate volume.
Songs that get you excited.
Not the kind of "jumping up and down"-excitement.. but rather the light-hearted and "in the zone" - excitement.
Look for something that is not too distracting (you don't know the lyrics by heart - or at least not yet), not too "boring" (piano music can sometimes get quite depressing)
... but something in between.
You might have to experiment with different genres for a while to find what works best for you!
Maybe, the gangster rap does do the job for you. Or maybe it's 90ies pop songs.
I'm personally on the "calmer" side;
I love the "Lofi-Beats" and "Musical Therapy" Playlists on Spotify;
sometimes I even listen to some kind of Indian Flute music.
Or freaky stuff like GFOTY.
Switch things upppp!
Because music does make a huge difference.
To wrap it up..
Here are the 5 habits in illustrated form again:
And here's one last thing to remember:
"Our brains are creativity engines with unlimited potential output."
- Jeff Bollo
Have fun creating!