It’s 4 p.m. and you have a project due in an hour. You would have started sooner, but you couldn’t come up with a good idea… and Netflix wasn’t going to watch itself. As a result of your binge-watching spiral and supposed lack of imagination, you have nothing accomplished. There is much to be done, but you just can’t think of anything brilliant to create.
So, how do you get the juices flowing?
The trick is to plan for this ahead of time. Creative ideas are hard to come by, but they’re especially difficult when you’re pressed for time. If you do these simple things before you run into creativity problems or hard deadlines, you will be inspired and prepared to think creatively.
1. Create a word web
Write the topic of your choice in the middle and draw lines away from it. At the end of each line, write everything you can think of relating to the topic at hand. With each of those lines, you can create even more ideas with each word or phrase relating to the previous idea. You can be as crazy as you want. Thinking abstractly can give you the best ideas.
2. Talk with someone
Some of the best ideas come when you connect your thoughts to another person’s. In the brainstorming process, make sure to plan time to run your ideas by someone or explain your problem to them. Come up with creative solutions together and be open to feedback – having another set of eyes on a topic creates more solid ideas.
Sometimes, all you need to do is draw without thinking of anything specific. Letting your mind and hand wander together can harness your inner creativity and inspire new ideas. In fact, a 2009 study suggests that doodling can help you focus better, relieve stress and improve your memory.
4. Get some fresh air
Of course, this isn’t always possible when you’re short on time, but in other situations, getting off the computer and going outside to refresh yourself is very helpful, even if it is just to get the mail. Your brain needs oxygen to function, so why not get some fresh air instead of the stuffy air indoors. Who knows? Maybe you’ll see a random shrub that will inspire your next great idea.
5. Establish a creative space
Set up a space where you are free from distraction and can get things done. Decorating and staging your space is key. If you love flowers and white space, make sure there are flowers and white space where you intend to work. If you dig crazy colors with lots of geometric shapes, create that. It’s important to remember that this looks different for everyone. Some people need a lot of empty space and silence to concentrate and create, but others thrive in the chaos of loud music and a messy desk.
6. Experience new things
According to a study by American psychologist, Adam Galinsky, “Foreign experiences increase both cognitive flexibility and depth and integrativeness of thought, the ability to make deep connections between disparate forms.” Wander your city. Try a new dish you’ve never had before. Watch a new movie. Go on a vacation to a different country. Listen to music you don’t normally listen to. Change up your morning routine. Experiencing the unfamiliar will get you thinking in different ways than usual. Changing things up will help your creativity flow.
7. Have paper with you at all times
Ideas sometimes pop into your head at random or inconvenient moments. You need to be able to write them down. Have paper next to your bed in case you wake up in the middle of the night. Have paper in your backpack, briefcase, wallet, purse or whatever you carry so you can write down your ideas in the grocery checkout line. Keep it in your car in case genius is born while you’re sitting at a stoplight. Just make sure you’re ready when inspiration strikes.
Implement creative solutions
Implementing a few or all of these tips into your creative processes will help you work through creative dry spells no matter the type of project you’re working on. You will be able to unlock genius ideas you already have. Plus, who doesn’t love a little break from their work?
If you do these simple things before you run into creativity problems, you will be inspired and prepared to think creatively.