When you think of creativity, does an easel and pot of paints spring to mind, or perhaps a musical composition or dance choreography? You don’t need to be artistic to be creative. Creativity can benefit all of us, in all aspects of our lives.
In fact some of the biggest success stories come from people who have managed to think outside the box and find a new way of doing things – people who innovate and revolutionise, such as Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Marie Curie and Alexander Graham Bell.
How did they manage to see the world differently? For many entrepreneurs and innovators, it’s their ability to think creatively. Creative thinking not only spurs innovation, but can assist you to create efficiencies, improve problem solving and work through uncertainty. While creativity isn’t a trait that comes naturally to all of us, fortunately this trait can be developed and fostered with some simple habits.
Expand your horizons
To be able to come up with fresh ideas and consider new perspectives, often we have to remove ourselves from what is familiar. This can be as easy as holding a meeting in a new location (such as having a walking meeting in a park, instead of sitting down in the same meeting room), or perhaps a trip is on the cards – the reason work conferences are often held in different locations to the office is that this change in scenery can stir up new ideas.
If you can’t physically go anywhere different, you can still expand your inner world. Make time for reading so that you’ll be exposed to diverse perspectives. The act of reading in itself can have a relaxing effect, which can then leave you more receptive to ideas, a topic which is explored in the book Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less.i
A space for creativity
You don’t necessarily need a room of one’s own to be creative. What is needed however is the space to let your thoughts be. Of course this is easier said than done in the busy world we live in, but there are still pockets of time you can utilise. Rather than reaching for your phone while waiting in a queue, let your mind wander. Try to take regular breaks away from your desk, and opt for a change of scenery when you’re taking a phone call.
It might also be possible to change your working hours to best make use of your time and energy. If you have the flexibility to do so, structure your day so that you fit in enough time to go for a walk or exercise. We don’t often equate going to the gym or participating in sport as a creative activity, yet research shows that being active can enhance creativity.ii
Follow your passions
Our hobbies bring about creativity, often without us even realising it. If you’ve spent hours building a model, tending to your garden, watching the ripples on the water while fishing or listening to bird noises during a bushwalk, you’ve likely entered a state of ‘flow’, when time passes by without your awareness.
Again this allows space for new ideas to come into your mind, which may or may not be related to what you are doing – as goes the legend of the apple falling on Isaac Newton’s head, which led to his discovery of the law of gravity.
By following your passions, you’re not only giving yourself the space to relax and focus on something other than work, but you may find it results in inspiration. If you’re struggling to come up with a solution to a problem or are finding it difficult to string a sentence together, take a break to do something you enjoy – you might find the answer will come to you this way.
Whether you already think of yourself as being creative or not, creativity is an important tool we can utilise in all aspects of our lives. By simply having fun and changing up your routine, your creativity will grow and you can harness its power.