Fostering Creativity in Everyday Life

by Amy Steinberg Published Apr 24, 2018 Last updated Apr 24, 2018

When we think of a “creative” career, many of us think of a designer, a novelist, or an artist.  However, many of today’s careers have a creative component and our competitive advantage often comes from creative problem-solving. Even if your career revolves around repetitive data entry, for instance, discovering a new function on your computer that allows you to double your input per day is a creative stroke of genius.

Creative thinking can increase excitement around new projects, and often help teams and individuals feel more energized. As Art Markman points out in Psychology Today, everything down to the sentences we use that have never been used before is an act of creation, so making space in our brains for creativity is worthwhile.

The pursuit of accomplishing our day to day tasks can sometimes crowd the brain space needed for creative thought. Here are some ways to make time and thought space for creative ideas.

Change your scenery

One of the things that makes our creative brains timeout is the feeling that we’ve seen it all before. If possible, move your work environment, even for an hour or two. The things you notice from a different spot in the office or a different part of the building may help you to notice new solutions for the creative problems you need to solve.

Have a brainstorming session with only one agenda item

Meetings can sometimes be a difficult place to share creativity, but a brainstorming session can be perfect. Figure out the problem you need to solve, make sure everyone in the room knows the limitations of the situation, set a timer and just throw ideas out. Try to elaborate on each other’s thoughts rather than shooting down hard-to-accomplish concepts. After all, one person’s first draft of an idea might only need a little polishing to become the perfect solution.

Carry a notebook or notes app

It has been said before but having a way to write down good ideas whenever you have them is so important! A voice memo app, notes app, or a good old-fashioned notebook can come in handy when inspiration strikes on the road, or in the middle of the night.

Read for 15 minutes at the start of each day

Almost all of us wish we read more, and there is a good reason: reading stimulates our minds in a way that isn’t just receptive. We associate thoughts with the things we are reading, which can allow us to connect ideas that we couldn’t just by sitting and thinking. If you can, make time for 15 minutes of reading in the morning: even if you don’t finish a whole book quickly, a good self-help, inspirational, or business-savvy book will get you primed to have a great day.

Try some mindfulness meditation

Feeling the stress? You may discover, as researchers in the 1990s reported, that the higher your stress level gets, the lower your creativity. Sometimes, taking some time to clear your mind and practice something like a quick breathing meditation can truly change how you feel about your pressing tasks. That space can free your thoughts from fear and doubt and give them space to change and morph into the solutions to the problems you face.

Say “what if?” to some of your biggest problems

Most of us spend much of our time paralyzed by the assumption that we must conform to the status quo. It can be valuable to ask yourself big “What if?” questions when you are feeling trapped or stuck. You don’t have to actually follow through on every wild answer but asking is enough to start the creative ideas!

  • What if I didn’t do this the way it has always been done?
  • What if I explored other options? What if I took a leap and looked for another path?

Ultimately, having a thoughtful mindset and a creative solution can enrich your daily interactions and give you an incredible sense of peace and fulfillment. Cultivating even a few minutes of creative activity each day can make you connect in a completely new way to your work and life goals.