If you want to make your business as innovative as possible, you need lots of creativity and ingenuity. But how do you harness these qualities? Many people struggle to come up with creative new ideas or to think in untraditional ways. Here are some clear and actionable techniques to unleash your creativity in business and in every area of your life.
Change Your Environment
Sometimes the best way to spur your creativity is to change your routine. If you're always sitting behind the same desk in the same office, try something different. Some people find that working in a public place, such as a cafe or a park, helps spark new ideas. Or, maybe it’s time to take a vacation and reset your mind. Travel can often be a great catalyst for creativity.
Write, Draw, or Speak in Different Modes
Sometimes the way you work limits your creativity. For example, if you typically type on a laptop or desktop, you might try changing things up. Try writing the old-fashioned way, with a pen and notebook. Or, instead of writing down words, try drawing out your ideas with images or symbols. This uses a different part of your brain. Another possibility is to speak your ideas into a recording device, phone, or tablet. The latter method lets you talk while walking or exercising, which may also help your brain work faster.
Study Something New
Sign up for a class in a field that you know little about but which interests you, either in person or online. Try something creative like art or music. Studying a new language is another way to change your thinking. Or, study a topic that fascinated you in school but you never pursued, whether that's history, geology, psychology, or statistics.
Get Physically Active
There's ample evidence that exercise stimulates your brain. Don't think of working out as time away from work. Think of exercise as a way to tune-up your brain as well as work your body. While there are benefits to exercising at the gym, it's best to do something you enjoy.
Playing a sport, such as tennis or basketball, lets you have fun while you're working up a sweat. Dance or power yoga are also healthy as well as brain-enhancing. Long walks or runs are also beneficial. In keeping with the tip to change your environment, try walking or running in different places to stimulate creativity.
Listen to Music
Music is one of the most powerful ways to enhance creativity. If you're inspired, learn to play an instrument or resume any training you abandoned years ago. However, there are also great benefits to simply listening to music.
The trick is to find the right music at the right times. Music can make you more creative and productive, but it can also be distracting. Classical music helps many people concentrate. However, the ideal type of music may vary from one moment to the next. Atmospheric sounds can help relax you if you're tense. Rock can stimulate you if you need a lift. It's really a matter of what works for you.
Study and Model Creative Business Leaders
Many of today's business leaders exhibit a high level of creativity. This is especially true in innovative industries such as technology. You've probably read stories about companies like Google and Apple. Dig a little deeper and read books by or about creative geniuses such as Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Larry Page, and others. If your favorite business leaders have blogs or Twitter accounts, follow them. Watch their videos or TED Talks. This helps to inspire you and give you creative ideas for your own business.
Alter Your Hours
Changing your schedule, such as when you get up and go to bed, also impacts your energy levels and your thought patterns. Creative people often keep unconventional hours. This can be difficult if you have a traditional 9-to-5 job. However, if you own your own business, freelance, or work for a company that offers flexible hours, take advantage of it!
If you usually go to bed early, try staying up late. On the other hand, if you're a late riser, get up at dawn. Try doing some writing, planning, or brainstorming during these hours when you typically sleep. This will be an adjustment, but you may find that it helps you think more creatively. You don't have to do this all the time. Even doing this occasionally can change your outlook and unleash your creative energy.
Take Regular Breaks
Many business people are highly driven and find it hard to take breaks. Or, when they do take breaks, they continue thinking about pressing issues at the office. Hyper-focusing on any one thing often restricts creativity. Learn to take breaks where you stop thinking about your business. Take a walk around the block. Meditate or practice mindful breathing. Read a spy novel. Play a game on your phone. Talk about sports or movies with a friend. Even short breaks help you return to work feeling refreshed.
Get Multiple Perspectives
Brainstorming sessions with team members, employees, or even people outside your business give you a wider perspective on whatever you're thinking about. When talking to people, ask plenty of questions. Unless you're dealing with a sensitive or proprietary project, there's no harm in asking for advice or seeking other opinions. Do this even for issues you think you've already figured out. Additionally, don't surround yourself with “yes” men or women. Talk to people who think differently from you and with whom you usually disagree. They'll often point out flaws in your thinking that are helpful—even if you don't enjoy hearing them.
Read Diverse Material
Reading is still one of the best ways to keep you intellectually sharp as well as creative. If you have trouble finding time for traditional reading, try listening to audiobooks or podcasts. Read (or listen) to material on diverse topics, including those outside your own field. Don't overlook the benefits of fiction or poetry either. Both help you think creatively and often in ways you're not accustomed to in your daily life.
Learning to unleash your creative spirit, both in the workplace and in your own personal endeavors, is crucial to leading a successful and fulfilling life. Are you ready to take your creativity and innovation to the next level? Check out how I and my team can help!