A little list of 20 tips for mixing things up a little and getting creative:
1 – Music: Undoubtedly top of the list for inspiring creativity (even though these aren’t in any order) as there’s something about someone else’s words coupled to rhythm and melody that stirs the soul. I don’t have any recommendations as it’s really a personal preference as the fun is in the search and the experience.
2 – Philosophy: Well what a subject for creativity, people taking it upon themselves to emerse mentally in deep and conclusive thought about a certain subject or problem, a lot can be learned from this very approach to your subjects or problems.
3 – Edward de Bono: The master of creative and lateral thinking, reading de Bono is a must if you want to gain a grounding in the techniques on how to train your mind to be more creative: here’s a link http://amzn.to/hmObqx to my recommended reading. Quite simply he established mental modes and uses random word insertion to open the mental process loops.
4 – Change your environment: This is a favorite as it can be achieved so many ways and with almost immediate results. Changing your environment can be anything from hanging a poster on the wall to foreign travel. All it means is a change of scene that introduces new stimuli and encourages thoughts to associate and new ideas to coalesce.
5 – Speak to different age groups: Young and old people have a different view on life based on generational bias. They see the world we all inhabit through their generational lens which can be inspirational to share from time to time. It can depend on the subject but your sure to be surprised by the young and stimulated by the knowingness of the old.
6 – Understand yourself: Knowing yourself and appreciating your own thought processes, history and experiences is important as those are the very resources creativity comes from. Think of this as a stock take and system review of your own ability – and look to improve upon them.
7 – Watch comedies: You may think this is a bit obvious but it’s really easy to become serious in this fast-moving purposeful economy driven world. Comedies are a slap in the face to this (no matter the size of your fish) as they interrupt normal situations or processes with humor causing a normality break that we find funny. This only works to massage your brain and be a catalyst for inspiration that could lead you anywhere: http://youtu.be/i9SSOWORzw4
8 – Work in a bad job: Sadly we’ve all been there: doing a job we don’t like be it 5 mins or an entire career. I personally remember taking long toilet breaks hoping nobody would notice where I was. During this time I had thoughts of what I’d really like to do; as the repression of my current situation caused me to understand myself and what I wanted to be. Simply put: hating something – changing something – making something better is a great thing.
9 – Horoscopes: As a realist, humanist and previous scientist the facts and what is real guide my life – not the positions of massive balls of burning gas millions of miles away interpreted by an obsessive compulsive “guru”. Nevertheless I really enjoy reading mine as I like how it throws you a curve ball and in some way encourages you to think about your day, your family, money, health or your relationships differently. I’m an Aquarius by the way – quite a creative non-lateral thinking sign (remember its pure rubbish).
10 – Learn or Collaborate: Improving your current skills or expanding them to include something new is fantastic to encourage creativity via cross-pollination of ideas and abilities. The future will be filled with multi-disiplined teams combining ideas so I would take an interest in anything and everything as you never know where it might lead and what ideas it could provide. This also applies to collaborating with others as learning takes time so why not leap forward by working with people with complimentary skill-sets.
11 – Take an interest in nature: Nature has a lot to teach us in the ways it has solved problems in its past. With the best ideas competing for survival, the best ways of being or doing things are all around us to see and are currently improving before our very eyes. Some creatures have adapted to do things in the most ingenious ways so have a look and see if these stimulate you to change and adapt i.e. get creative as well.
12 – Realise life is short: Even the creative legend that was Leonardo di Vinci on his death-bed had to be consoled that he had spent his time wisely after worrying that he hadn’t done enough during the course of his life. The realisation that time is running out should be enough motivation for anyone to be stimulated into being creative and try to do new things.
13 – Exercise: Stimulating the body also stimulates the mind and if you work really hard the endorphins can create a deep sense of calm from which good ideas can be realised. I personally find exercise a good time for solitude in which ideas just pop into my head.
14 – Travel: Related to changing your environment, travel is more an overhaul than a change. As you throw yourself into a new world and for a time you’re barraged by new: people, buildings, geography, language, food, colours, events, sounds and sights. Taking a note pad on holiday or an extended trip is a great opportunity to catch any new ideas along the way. Travel can be extended by way of a sabbatical, see here for Stefan Sagmeister, a famous designer, explaining his: http://bit.ly/wiJ6A
15 – Learn a new language: Communication is a core part of human thinking, so shaking this up a bit by learning a new language is going to be a good thing. There’s over 600 different languages in the world so the brain has a great propensity for creating sounds and giving them meaning. So just learning some of these from other people will get those neurons firing in different ways making new connections and maybe result in new ideas.
16 – New Medias: Magazines, Blogs, Films, Videocasts and Podcasts are great new ways for information to be disseminated to many people easily, quickly and accurately. The speed at which a whim can be reported to thousands of people has never existed as it does today. So I suggest you get plugged into other people’s thoughts and be open to listening to others and acting on your resulting thoughts. Checkout TED for videos of very enlightened people speaking on a gamut of subjects: http://www.ted.com
17 – Your sub-conscience brain: I quite often tell people my best ideas come to me when I’m in the bathroom. This is largely because I get the time to quietly listen to my sub-conscious. It’s there all the time absorbing much more information than the conscience brain, hypnotherapists would argue many times more. As a result we have this powerful tool in our heads that we don’t really use all that well. However it can be applied if we take Don Drapers advice from the series Mad Men who said: think about a problem deeply, explore all its depths fully and exhaustively, then put it completely out of your mind – and then await the solution to present itself.
18- Keep a sketchbook: Following on from the last point, being ready for when your sub-conscience does have a good idea is also very important, so keep a note pad or a sketch book handy to catch those untimely ideas. Also just having a place for ideas to be is also great for creativity as it can invite them on to the page – almost if you build they will come.
19- Mind mapping: Making use of your sketch or note pad can be done by mind mapping. This combines some previous ideas such as de Bono’s lateral thinking, Don Drapers deep thinking and your own thinking. Simply take a sheet of paper, I personally use A3, then place your problem in the middle of it and then from there add words or sketches that are associated with it, and then exhaust your thoughts about it – not thinking to hard or seeking immediate solutions. Instead just try to find a train of thought and let your brain do the rest, as you’ll know when you’ve found the final solution.
20- Right a wrong: There are many problems in the world to be solved already, things that need to be done, so many, that one doesn’t really need to think up new ones. Instead it’s solutions that are required – necessity is mother of invention – so lets get to it.
This short blog was written to pass on some of our ideas for creativity to help ideas flourish in general. As you may have noticed when reading this article this is largely done by either adding new information, breaking physical and mental routines and or clearing your mind of the noise to actually hear ideas over daily noise.
As designers we are often associated with computers and technical software but these are only precise tools for delivering our ideas – good design is born from good ideas and good designers think a lot.
So I hope these creative ideas are helpful and remember that it’s ok to makes mistakes.
(Creative Director of Creatifik)