Every bosslady knows that creativity is an indispensable asset. Whether your business relies on creative output like photography or design, or whether you solve tricky financial and legal problems for clients, there is incredible value in being able to move between creative and analytical approaches.
The unfortunate reality is that no one can be inspired and connected to their creativity all the time. Occasionally we all encounter blocks and get stuck in ruts. The key is knowing that these blocks are temporary and that we have the skills and resources to move through them.
That being said, there are a number of things you can do to stimulate your brain in different ways and prompt dormant skills or knowledge to the surface. We’ve put together 9 exercises that you can do right now to help you get unstuck and inspired.
1. Change your environment
Many of us work in offices day after day, but it is nearly impossible to stay inspired when our surroundings never change. Take a 15-minute break and go for a walk in the fresh air. Really need to shake things up? Find a different part of the office to work in-- or work remotely from a cafe or co-working space for the afternoon. Better yet, take your whole team off-site for the day.
2. Phone a friend
Pick up the phone and call someone you don’t talk to often. Everyone thinks differently, and it can be valuable to get a new perspective on a problem you’re facing, or at least to hear someone else’s ideas. I often call my grandmother when I need to get the creative juices flowing. I ask her about how things were done differently in her day.
3. Consume some media
Just like an old friend can offer a nugget of wisdom that will inspire you, a podcast, book, or TV show may also prompt a new idea. Page through a book you haven’t read in awhile, make time to watch a documentary, or block off some “inspiration time” in your calendar to get lost in articles or videos.
4. Do something boring
Are you burnt out on creativity? Try doing something that feels boring. Sometimes the momentum you create by checking the monotonous things off of your To Do list-- like taxes or bookkeeping-- can give you the jolt you need to keep working on tasks that require more inspired thinking.
5. Take yourself on an Artist Date
Made popular by Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, the Artist Date is...well, exactly what it sounds like. Take your inner muse to a nearby art gallery or show at the theater. Enroll in an art class. Maybe your Artist Date is something more simple, like getting a manicure or laying by the lake. Either way, your muse sometimes requires a bit of courting before she’ll come out to play.
6. Write stream of consciousness
Another popular Julia Cameron trick is called Morning Pages – a stream-of-consciousness writing exercise. One of the most common causes of a creative block is feeling overwhelmed. Our brain can only hold so much information at a time, so doing a brain dump will help get some of the anxiety out of your head. Just write whatever comes to mind. This will free up space for new ideas to flow in.
7. Move your body
Try turning off your thinking brain and turning on your doing brain. Stand at your desk for a while or walk around the block during a phone meeting. Break up your day by going to a yoga or spin class.
8. Stimulate your senses
Try activating other parts of your brain through the five senses. Light a delicious smelling candle, eat something different, take a warm bath, turn off the computer and listen to a record or look at some old pictures.
9. Crowdsource ideas
See if you can distill your creative block into a question. Is there a particular problem you’re trying to solve? Break it down as simply as you can and pose the question to a friend, on social media, or on Quora. See how others would solve the problem.
Now that you’ve filled up your creativity tank, how can you keep it full? In general, there is no one way for everyone, but exploring these exercises regularly will keep your brain stimulated and encourage new ways of thinking. Neuroscientist Paul King agrees. “Creativity is maximized when information, knowledge, skills, and cognitive styles from all parts of the brain work in coordination to explore and organize as many divergent paths of thinking and feeling as possible.”