How can you Boost Creativity?
While creativity may seem effortless for some, most end up working
far harder at it than necessary. Extensive training is not a viable
option to gaining creativity. Instead, a few relatively simple
techniques can help to a significant degree.
Some of the more effective ones include:
- Set limits to your options. While many will think this will
inhibit your ability to come up with a good solution, it does
reduce the amount of time you spend in consideration of "less than
optimal" solutions. It helps you to do a more thorough investigation of
those options that are most likely to be helpful and/or useful.
- Don't wait for "the spark". Many seem to think that they will
suddenly be "inspired" and can then capitalize on that moment. Sorry,
that does . . not . . happen. Just as you can not schedule innovation,
sitting and waiting for it to happen does nothing but expend time. Think
about sports figures that are "in a slump", do they sit and wait for
said slump to end? NO, they work at it, so must you.
- Focus on the problem rather than your perceived solution.
Far too many people will be so focused on their "solution" that it ends
up not handling the intended problem. YES, you need to consider various
solutions, but only enough to provide your effort the correct direction.
- Vary your "distance" from what you are working on.
If you spend all your time at the microscopic level, you can easily
miss excellent solutions, because you didn't consider them. Conversely,
if you look only at the broadest of pictures, it is very hard to have
those concepts fit together cohesively. During the initial development
phases, shifting from close to far and back maintains the necessary
perspective to maximize creativity.
- Let noise be your friend. Many contend that they are most
creative in very quiet environments, while most do quite well in
moderate noise levels. Do not think that implies a high noise level will
be of assistance, it isn't. Medium/moderate noise levels tend to help
us "block out" unwanted/unnecessary interruptions, by increasing focus.
- MOVE AROUND! Physical effort, at moderate levels is another
way to help you focus. Going "for a walk" while you are planing a
phase of your effort, gets you away from some of the non productive
interruptions while maintaining your focus.
- Use "the wrong hand". The truism of ... "if you always do
what you always did, you will always get what you always got" ...
DOES apply. It is when you vary your approach to a problem that you
can, quite often, find excellent solutions.
- Clearly define the desired end point. How can you create a
good solution if you do not understand what it should to be? Conversely,
do not let initial definitions limit the scope of your effort. Always
be ready to make improvements/enhancements.
- Capture stray thoughts! DO NOT spend extensive amounts of
time in capturing those thoughts, but DO be sure they do not just float
away. It is amazing how many "stray thoughts" will solve other problems
for you. With that said, you will most likely find that what seems a
"stray thought" now, can easily be the key to an excellent solution
later in your project.
- Knowledge is king, but a guess can save time. Just as you
capture stray thoughts, do not be apprehensive about educated guesses.
A "best guess" can, especially at a critical time, maintain your
momentum and thus your creativity. Just be sure you verified your
- Look at where you are NOT going. Just as you focus on the
direction your project is headed, make sure you clearly know where it
is not headed. Significant amounts of time can be wasted in chasing
mice down rat holes, when ignoring them has no negative consequences.
- TAKE A BREAK! Entirely too many people will push and push
and push to complete their project. You can easily increase
creativity by spending short amounts of time "doing nothing". A few
items that help are:
- As mentioned above, go for a walk
- Laugh! It really helps.
- Stop and clear your mind! It's amazing how much that can help.