Creative thinking - for all!!

Are you a logical, left-brain thinker?

Do you think that creative activity is best left to those colleagues, friends and family that have a more creative gene?

Every now and then there is a push to convince people that we are all creative, in one form or another, and I have slowly acknowledged that being creative doesn’t mean you have to be Picasso or Tracy Emin, Vivaldi or Adele! Being creative can also mean developing newer, smarter ways of doing everyday tasks, or finding ways to automate or improve a process so that it takes less time.

Creativity is just as important in manufacturing as it is in fashion - you only have to see the amount of creative thinking that is needed to design and build a new car (or sofa … or toy!).

Creativity is also needed in office based roles as well - designing a document, or form, so that it is easy to follow requires right-brain thinking just as much as left-brain.

Or you may want to shake up the weekly team meeting so that people are more engaged and interactive!

The problem is when we label ourselves as a logical, left-brain thinker we may say no to a job because is has a minuscule part that says we have to create something! To stop this happening, and to ’stretch’ your creative muscles, here are a few new, and tried and tested, tips for you to try:

Break a habit

If you take the same route to work (or school / uni etc.) try going a different way. Or, if you are office based, trying sitting somewhere different to work. This shakes the brain cells and prepares your mind for thinking a different way. This is particularly useful if you have a planning / scoping meeting ahead, helps shake up routine tasks or when you are trying to problem-solve.

Choose your time

Creative tasks need ‘big, non-specific thinking’ so you may find that you are more creative when you are tired and the mind starts to wander. If you are a morning person - leave the creative stuff until later in the day (and vice versa if you are an evening person). Setting aside specific creative time can also reduce stress and allow ideas to ‘flourish’. To help ideas flow more easily try going for a walk or do something that doesn’t need concentration e.g. cleaning or gardening, or try one of the ‘grown-up’ colouring books that are so popular now!

Work in threes

Research has found that when two people working together it’s not long before it becomes comfortable and that’s when the ideas begin to stagnate. If you are involved in a project with a colleague and things are getting 'stuck' start again with a third person - this will destabilise the team, stimulate ideas and get the creative juices flowing again.

Get distracted

Allow distractions - being in a quiet space isn’t always conducive to creativity so don’t be afraid to try some background music or noise (just not too loud!). I find sitting in a local cafe with a notepad and pen works for me. I write a headline on my notepad (what do I want to achieve, my problem or just 'Think!') and then just sit and watch the world go by until the ideas start to flow. It never fails to work and, as a plus, I get some quality time (and coffee…) as well.

This last one seems obvious but how often can you do this without feeling guilty! How often to you hear people say they had a good idea, or a solution to a problem, when they were not even looking for it (e.g. in the shower or on a run). But you may not always be able to wait for your idea to pop up unexpectedly so, as I said in 'choose your time' you also need to set aside time to be creative. Schedule a weekly slot in your diary for creative thinking - for once, being organised (something not usually linked to creativity) can free the mind for unrestricted thinking.

I started to stretch my creative cells by designing and developing the images for my blog - it may not seem like much (especially for the artists out there) but it inspired me to come up with new topics to research.

So go ahead - have fun at work!