According to the World Economic Forum, creativity is in the top three skills workers will need to thrive in 2021 and beyond. Creativity is a necessary ingredient to innovation, strategy building, marketing, and day-to-day problem-solving. While everyone is capable of being creative, it is like a muscle that must be flexed, stretched, and strengthened. So if you or your team is feeling stuck or struggling to find fresh ideas, here are some tips to unlock your inner creative genius!
- Take a Play Break – Have you ever had a great idea while showering, or maybe on your daily run? Neuroscience research has found that our brains are more creative during leisure time, so one of the best things you can do when you need to spark creativity is to take a break and do something fun. Take a quick walk, play a game with a co-worker, anything that will re-energize you, and let your brain think about something else for a while will help get the creative energy flowing!
- Boost Self-Confidence – Sometimes, it is easy to doubt our abilities and engage in negative self-talk when we are stuck on a problem. Unfortunately, negative self-talk and lack of confidence make it even harder to spark creativity! If you or your team are experiencing a lack of confidence, try making a quick list of all your recent accomplishments, and think about what talents and skills you used to reach those goals. If you are working in a group, take turns telling another team member what you find most impressive about them.
- Practice, Practice, Practice – Remember, creativity is like a muscle, which means you have to use it or lose it! Set aside 20 minutes each day to think creatively. You can identify every aspect of a problem to be solved for 10 minutes and then brainstorm a list of possible solutions for 10 minutes. Or, in a group, you might try a storytelling exercise where participants pretend they are a fictitious expert in an imaginary field (like a person who designs hats for unicorns) and other participants interview the subject about their work. This sort of playful exercise can help awaken your creativity and look at problems from a new angle.
- Ask, “Who Else Has Already Solved This Problem?” – If you are stuck on a difficult problem, it can be helpful to stop thinking about solving it and instead think about who has had the same problem and solved it. For example, when toothpaste companies wanted to find ways to whiten teeth without damaging them, they asked how bleach-free laundry detergents made whites whiter. They discovered that the detergent simply made white clothing appear whiter without bleaching or damaging the fabric by adding blue coloring and had a new solution to their problem!
- Never Stop Learning – The best way to keep the creativity flowing is to never stop learning! Seek out new personal and professional development opportunities, learn new skills, and try new hobbies to continually spark creativity.