25 Ways to Boost Creativity

by Mikey Rox on 5 March 2013 5 comments

Even those who go, go, go all day long can run into creative walls every once in a while. And once you’ve been knocked down, it can be hard to get back up again — despite what 90s annoyance Chumbawamba professes. So to help you reclaim your creativity in the event that you’re at an intellectual impasse, here are 25 tips on how to boost your creative brainpower. (See also: How Less Creativity Can Make You More Creative)

1. Listen to Music

Turn on your favorite tunes and get lost in melody. Don’t just listen to the music though. Hear it. Digest the lyrics and imagine in your head the scenes they set.

2. Meditate

Turn down the lights, power off your devices, and become one with yourself again. Meditation helps increase creativity by creating a condition for insight, easing artistic anxiety, and improving attention and concentration, among other benefits.

3. Doodle/Draw

Even if you’re not a particularly good hand artist, you can doodle endlessly and without a real purpose to help clear your mind of some of the clutter that has accumulated.

4. Daydream

This is one of my all time favorite pastimes. Daydreaming allows us to escape the burdens we carry and facilitates open-mindedness. There are no restrictions when daydreaming, which is why this tactic can be useful when you need a creative boost.

5. Keep a Notepad by Your Bed

I often wake up in the middle of the night — either from a dream or for a bathroom break — with something on my mind. If I don’t write it down immediately, I will likely forget it by morning. To preserve these creative surges, even when I can’t or don’t want to do anything about them in the moment, I keep a notepad next to my bed to jot down those dream filled ideas, words, and thoughts for later.

6. Skim Through a Magazine

Visual aids can often help in the creative process, so skimming through a magazine relevant to what you’re working on may help. For instance, if you’re looking for design inspiration, page through a home improvement publication. If you want to make a delicious meal for houseguests, look through a cooking magazine. There are magazines for virtually everything you can think of, so you should be able to find something that piques your creativity rather easily.

7. Have a Cocktail

Some of my best ideas have come after a few glasses of wine. In fact, if it weren’t for alcohol, famous writers like Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, and F. Scott Fitzgerald would have never had a hit. To inspire your creativity, throw a few back (in moderation) and wait for the ideas to start flowing as freely as the moderately free flowing booze.

8. Take a Nap

When you’re overwhelmed and overworked, it’s hard to be creative. Sometimes all you need is a nap to get your mind back on track.

9. Visit a Museum

Museums burst at their seams with creative excellence. Take a leisurely stroll through an art gallery or educational facility to see what those who have come before you have created to ignite ideas of your own.

10. Browse the Internet

If your brain is drained, spend 30 minutes browsing funny videos, reading articles, looking at pictures, or otherwise searching for the most outlandish things you can find. Just don't overdo it.

11. Play Video Games

Another great way to relax your noggin is to engage in a round of video games (or board games even). Some games can energize their players (especially Wii or Kinect games that make you move), and they can assist in improving your problem-solving skills.

12. Make a List

Whenever I have to come up with creative taglines for advertising copy, I take out a sheet of paper and write down all associated words and words that rhyme with those words, and I search for idioms that have relevance to the concept at hand. This technique unlocks ideas which lead to more ideas that I never would have thought of otherwise.

13. Decorate to Inspire

If you have an extra room in your house, decorate it to inspire you. Paint it a bright, energetic color; hang artwork that evokes emotion; and keep within reach those items you need when you need a creative insurgence — like coffee and your iPad.

14. Brainstorm With Another Creative

You know the old saying — two heads are better than one. When yours is running on empty, join forces with another creative to get your brain back in the game.

15. Get a Massage

Take a load off your back and your brain with a soothing massage that will help you relax. While you’re lying there for those 30 to 90 minutes, let you mind rest and wander.

16. Read a Book

You can’t help but visualize people and places when you read a great book. So when you feel like you’re experiencing a block, pick up your favorite story and escape to where your imagination and the prose take you.

17. Exercise

What else do you have to do on the treadmill besides watch the clock? Use that time to think about your projects and how you plan to approach them when you’re all buffed up. Thinking while working out also helps the minutes go by a little faster, which for someone like me, who hates the gym, is a blessing.

18. Eat Brain-Boosting Foods

Want a sharper mind bursting with creativity? The answer may be in what you eat. Put down the burgers and donuts and instead stuff your face with healthy, brain boosting foods like fish, soy, greens, and berries.

19. Follow Your Curiosity

The only way your creativity will know no bounds is if you let your curiosity run wild. One of the ways I expand my horizons is through Wikipedia. It never fails that when I look up one topic, I click on 20 other related links until I’m so far from my original topic that I forgot what I searched for. The result, however, is that I’ve just learned a ton of stuff that will influence my creativity, even if I don’t know it yet.

20. Set Aside Time

Sometimes you have to schedule time to think. If you find that you don’t have enough time during the day and your creativity is suffering as a result, it’s time for a break. Schedule a half hour where you can put all your distractions aside and relax. This brief respite will help you destress and think more clearly when you return to work.

21. Take Risks

When you take risks, you open yourself up to new experiences — and new experiences contribute to your overall creativity. So the next time you go back and forth in your mind about "should I or shouldn’t I," just do it. You’ll thank yourself later.

22. Think Outside the Box — Literally

It may sound like a cliché, but sitting outside a physical box has shown to enhance creativity.

23. Have Fun With Children

Who better to help you open your mind that children? Children have no stress; their lives are simple. So it only make sense that their imaginations run wild 24/7. Get in on some of that action by having fun with a few of the kids in your life so you can free your mind like one again.

24. Ponder the Future

What’s great about thinking about the future is that it’s yet to be written. In your version, you’re the author, which means there are endless possibilities. Tap into your creativity by thinking about life 20 years from now. And think big, for goodness' sake. Your future will be what you make it.

25. Manage the Mood

Is your environment preventing you from being as creative as you’d like to be? Change that. Remove those distractions and make your thinking space conducive to creativity. Maybe that means turning up the music or opening the windows or shutting off the lights. Whatever you need to do to think clearly, do it.

What do you do to boost your creativity?

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Guest's picture

What a great article!

I've been known to use my cell phone's notepad feature to write down ideas while I'm fighting the throes of sleep. When I excercise using my indoor bike I watch tv or a movie, and this helps clear my mind.

I agree strongly with listening to music. All day at work I listen to other people's music, but when I listen to what *I* like, it opens my mind in such a way as to make me feel whole and desperate to create.

Guest's picture

Exercise is great as you mentioned. I also find just a change of environment or scenery is an excellent stimulant. Even if it is just a small change like a chair or view, my mindset becomes automatically refreshed. Give it a try. I have one standing desk and one sitting desk so I can constantly be changing my environment. Give it a try.

Guest's picture

My best ideas come to me while in the shower, or just as I wake up. I'm still waiting for someone to create a shower app to help record those ideas. However, being away from technology might be part of the reason that the ideas flow more easily, so perhaps an app wouldn't help! Thank you for the article.

Guest's picture

This was a great read! My favorite is to listen to music and exercising comes right along with that. I am able to clear my mind when I exercise, which then leads to clearer thinking! I also really like writing lists. This keeps me organized and enables me to think of other ideas.

Guest's picture

All of these are great! Just getting out and interacting with other people, nature and your surroundings will instantly boost creativity. I like that you include visiting a museum, or an art gallery as well because those often make you feel like theres a ton of creativity inside of you thats bursting to come out.