If you are reading this, there is a good chance you are both a creative and a digital native. I’m willing to bet that you spend much of your day in front of a computer screen, creating beautiful, useful things.
You might be a web designer or developer, or an IT specialist who creates innovative solutions to big problems. Whatever it is you do, it is important that you keep your creative side in shape. Here are 10 ways you can do just that…
1. Get moving
Research shows that both physical movement and the outdoors can enhance creative thinking. Exercise - from walking to Crossfit - gets your heart pumping which creates natural endorphins and puts you in a good mood. Similarly, being outside stimulates the imagination by engaging all five senses and energizing your body through fresh oxygen. Using a wearable that tracks your movement will encourage to keep getting up and moving more often.
2. Create with your hands
Our hands were the first tools we used and using them to create is important in keeping our minds open to considering new ideas, problems and solutions. Painting, crocheting, playing a musical instrument and even cooking are all great ways to stimulate your creative juices by engaging your senses. Google "easy DIY" projects for a plethora of ways to explore your creativity if you don't know what you want to try. And when you've created whatever homemade masterpiece, don't forget to claim it as your own.
3. Produce something every day
Creativity is a skill you need to practice, just like any other. Sometimes, you may have blocks that prevent you from working on your project of choice and that's perfectly normal but it doesn't get you off the hook. Put aside the project you're working on and just focus on producing something else instead. It can be anything - a poem, a scarf, a photo or a brainstorm session. Anything that gets you thinking and producing a finished project will give you satisfaction and relax your brain, allowing you to move on to other endeavors.
4. Learn to eliminate distractions
We have all heard of writer's block but every form of creative production has its own version. No matter what your craft, learn to focus on it by eliminating those things that distract you. If your work is primarily on the computer, consider installing browser extensions that block your favorite time-wasting websites. If your craft is elsewhere, use timers to give yourself a dedicated time to work on your project, allowing yourself a reprieve when the requirement is met.
5. Take breaks
Speaking of which, take breaks! No one can maintain creative thinking 24/7. Give your eyes a break by looking around and away from your computer screen every 10 minutes by looking at something in the distance. Get up and walk around. Give yourself permission to do something else for a designated time period so you don't burn out.
6. Write, write, write
Meticulously organized is not the first quality most people would attribute to creatives, but they these little tools have proven indispensable for many of history’s most creative. Lists and notes are a cornerstone for many creative people, but you can use yours to enhance your creative thinking by writing down everything. For instance, keeping a notebook about life's little annoyances (the coffee shop closes too early, Photoshop doesn't pan over the edges of an image, etc.) can inspire you to come up with a solution that fixes one of those problems - thus saving you the frustration and opening the door to a possibly marketable idea. Use your phone or tablet's notebook problem or take writing to a new level with mind mapping software that connects similar ideas or topics.
7. Restrict yourself
We tend to fall back on the same methods when solving a problem, which can restrict creative thinking. One exercise that helps expand the sources you draw upon thinking smaller. Dr. Seuss wrote Green Eggs and Ham after famously being challenged to write a book using less than 50 words. Sometimes when taking away an obvious source for problems (time, materials, people), you force yourself to be more creative with the solutions.
8. Think about distant places
Daydreaming - especially about a place or time far away - can stimulate our ability to solve problems, according to research. So once you've got a problem, go ahead and think of Paris or even Christmas 2050.
9. Embrace the absurd
Consuming something unexpected helps to expand the mind on what is possible. No matter what your creative outlet, absurdist comedy, stories and art are all good sources for thinking outside the box. Monty Python, Twin Peaks and The Big Lebowski are all examples of popular absurdist movies but search out other art, music and books.
10. Commune with like-minded people
Creative people encourage creativity. Make sure you're attending or organizing events where you can exchange ideas and laughter with other creative thinkers on a regular basis to keep your brain buzzing. You can join local and online groups or, if you're the person in your circle who plans everything, look into venue management software that can help you organize your own gatherings.