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Simple Tips to Be More Creative Every Day

I was asked recently to give a lunch-time talk about creativity to a healthcare communications agency with a completely reasonable question:

What are some simple tips to be more creative every day?

I’ve worked with the agency for several years, so it wasn’t a question of better brainstorming or brainstorm exercises. They were doing all of that very successfully. They simply wanted to instill a creative mindset every day.

For what it’s worth, here were the six tips I gave to inspire creative thinking every day.

Create light bulb moments every day.

Creativity is not just a skill, it’s a behaviour.

Ernest Hemingway demanded that writers write every day. Andre Agassi said if he didn’t practice, he didn’t deserve to win. Stephen Sondheim tried to write something every day, no matter what.

It’s not the outcome that’s important: it’s the practice and discipline. Start small. Keep a diary. Write a visual journal. Make an environment for yourself that encourages your creativity. Find a second – or third, or fourth – answer to any problem you face. Think of creativity as mental calisthenics.

Always start with the goal and the problem, and then change it.

The key to improving creativity is clarity and authenticity. What is your goal (clarity), and why is that important to you (authenticity)?

Start by writing down the goal and problem. Why is solving it important to you, your boss, your client? Start the sentence with “How can I (fill in the blank).” Once you have your first question, re-write the statement a number of times – it’s called  – until you find a better question that’s provocative and stimulates your imagination.

Clear the trash out of your head.

As much as 90% of your day is spent in the  (also known as the Closed Mode). Responding to the day’s tasks. Reacting to other’s requests. Organising, sorting, prioritising and deciding – most of which borders on routine. They’re all retroactive thinking, and worse, it fills your mind up with debris more relevant to the past than the future.

In contrast, the Open Mind is forward thinking, pro-active and constructive. Call it daydreaming if you like, but considered, thoughtful and focused thinking on future problems is how creativity begins.

Stop with the negative talk.

 – a powerful but hardly objective voice in the back of your head – speaks to you all day long. On one hand, it gives you balance and context, but more often than not, it’s critical and deflective. At its worst, it tells you your ideas aren’t good enough, it assumes the pre-judgement of others, and destroys any idea before it has a chance for improvement. Remember: your negative voice is just one voice, not the only voice.

Do different things.

If you have a cat or dog, you know they’ll stop drinking from their water dish if the water gets too stagnant. Strange as it may sound, your brain easily turns into a stagnant pool of water. To be creative, it needs constant refreshment. Absorb as much as you can from the life that swirls around you. Act like an alien. Soak up anything foreign to you – fashion, sport, art, architecture, music, movies – particularly things or events which you’d not immediately respond to. You’ll never know when something might spark an idea.

Be a creative cheerleader.
It’s unlikely every person will turn into a creative zealot with ideas spewing out on a regular basis. But those people – which can be any of us, depending upon our mood – still have a creative duty. We must be creative cheerleaders. Champion ideas around you, at work and in your community. Recognize and allow others to run full-tilt with their ideas, even if it might not be immediately apparent, cost-effective or timely. Improve ideas without killing the passion. To suppress ideas in others is as bad as suppressing ideas in yourself.
What are your simple tips to be more creative every day?  Please add your thoughts and comments below.
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Simple Tips to Be More Creative Every Day