Learning to think creatively is a critical part of creating change within your industry that could go on to change the world. If you've been chugging along using the same routine you've always used and stumbling past opportunities to be creative, make sure that you aren't engaging in these eight bad habits that will negatively impact your creativity.
1. Assuming It Will “Just Happen”
The best bursts of creativity are spontaneous—or at least, that's what most people assume. The truth is creativity is like anything else: you have to make time for it. If you want innovation in either your workplace or your personal life, you can't simply sit back and assume that it's going to happen. Instead, you have to schedule it.
Make time to focus on your latest creative endeavor. Schedule meetings with people who can help take the idea from concept to reality. Spontaneous creative energy is an incredible thing, but it doesn't exist in isolation. The more time you spend working on your creative processes, the more creative you will become.
2. Failing to Support the Creative Process
The Law of Resources applies to creativity much like it does to innovation. You can't create if you don't have the materials necessary to do it. That means you need to dedicate the appropriate tools, resources, and funds to creative endeavors.
Sometimes, this may mean simply providing yourself with the tools you need to do your best creative work. Do you need access to specialized equipment? Do you need art or modeling supplies? Would your creativity be spurred by access to specific data or software? Consider what creative work you are trying to accomplish, and be sure you have all the tools and resources you need to be successful.
3. Ignoring the Opinions of Others
True creativity and innovation takes a village. A solid creative team has a variety of members who all function together in order to create the innovation your business needs to stay at the top of the industry. While that doesn't mean you should listen to the negative opinions of individuals who seem to be trying to drag you down, you can't ignore others entirely. Often, those additional voices are exactly what you need to take your creative potential to new heights.
Only about two percent of the population is actually able to successfully multitask. If you fall outside that percentage, trying to multitask is going to destroy your ability to create successful innovation.
Think about it: any time you shift away from the task at hand, you have to refocus and try again to capture your creative flow. Instead, try actively focusing on the task at hand. Shut off your phone, close those extra tabs on your web browser, and focus in on the things that are really important.
5. Insisting on Perfectionism
Perfectionism will ruin your creativity before it ever has a chance to flourish. Your ideas don't have to be perfect in order to be effective. In many cases, perfection comes only through trying and failing, through working with others to refine the idea, and through repeated trials—and sometimes, not even then.
Perfectionism will also destroy your productivity and prevent you from accomplishing nearly what you would have been able to had you been willing to accept “good enough.”
6. Getting Stuck in the Research Stage
Depending on your industry and your creative efforts, information is important. You can't design a new process or create a new machine without a basic understanding of how the old one works and what's wrong with it that needs to be fixed. On the other hand, too much information can quickly become overwhelming.
Limit yourself to what you really need to know, instead of getting bogged down in research. Give yourself permission to make the most of your own creative energy, and don’t get too caught up analyzing what others have done before. This is especially true when there is conflicting information available or other parties have vastly different opinions on a topic.
You aren't going to be able to solve those problems based on reading about them alone, so try diving in and charting your own path instead.
7. You Let Yourself Get Stuck in a Rut
Highly creative people seek out new experiences, try new methods for accomplishing the same thing, and use obstacles as potential for change. If you're stuck in the same routine you've always used, consider making small changes that can have a big impact on the way you ultimately view the problems facing you every day.
Don't assume that just because something has “always been done that way” that it's the way you have to do it now. Instead, break outside of habit and try something new.
8. Social Time Takes Away From Your Creative Time
In many cases, the best creative ideas come through isolation: those moments when you separate yourself from the people around you and give yourself time to think. Constantly insisting on being social—whether chatting around the break room or engaging in social media—can drain your creative energy, as you spend it on the people around you instead of on the problems facing you. Give yourself permission to disengage from people, unplug from your social media channels, and give yourself time alone to think and create.
If you've been engaging in any of these eight bad habits, you might be watching your creative opportunities slip away. The good news is that it's not too late to turn them around! By making simple changes to your processes and allowing yourself the time, space, and resources you need, you can kickstart your creativity and bring those killer innovations to light. Ready to get started? Check out how I and my team can help.