5 Tips to Spark Creativity


In our society of constant tweeting, blogging, posting and hashtagging, there are times where it’s hard to find those “awe-struck” moments of inspiration. As a communication person, there are very few things that are more frustrating than a creative block. You quickly realize that drowning yourself in coffee while staring at a blinking cursor of a Word document or the outline of your Illustrator artboard won’t help you, no matter how hard you try. So I compiled a list of my top 5 ideas to kick your creative juices into gear.

1. Get the tunes cranking

Now, I’m not saying to drop the bass and turn your desk into a concert venue (the accounting department probably doesn’t want to hear your guilty pleasure music stations) but there’s scientific proof that listening to music can actually improve brain function. According to Jonah Lehrer, a neuroscientist and author, “Music can alter the state of our brainwaves, as well as trigger neurotransmitters, like dopamine, which alter our mood and reward us for creative breakthroughs” [1] Personally, my music choices change depending on the project I’m working on. Alternative rock, reggae or country are my go-to when working on creative or graphic design projects (and an occasional Bieber tune, I will admit) while jazz or acoustic covers work best when writing marketing materials or press releases. Whatever music floats your boat, I suggest sticking your headphones in and getting lost in the creative world of riffs and drum solos.

2. Take a break

Sometimes you need to minimize the screen and change the scenery in order to get back on track. Taking a walk or even doodling on some scratch paper for a little while can result in a creative revolution. Our brains have two main modes of functioning, “focused mode” which is our brain condition when we are doing things such as writing, studying or reading and “diffuse mode” which is our more relaxed, daydreamy state of thinking. While you may think that you should try and maximize focused thinking, it may have a negative effect on your critical thinking and imaginative thoughts. Dr. Barbara Oakley, the author of A Mind for Numbers, talks on an episode of Inquiring Minds podcast saying “When you’re focusing, you’re actually blocking your access to the diffuse mode. And the diffuse mode, it turns out, is what you often need to be able to solve a very difficult, new problem.” [2]

Oh, and just an FYI for anyone who lives in one of the participating areas and wants the world’s BEST way to take a mental break… Uber offers a service called “Uber Puppies” where you can have puppies brought to the office for a small “snuggle fee” that goes straight to a local shelter. How adorable is that? ♥  

3. Ask for Feedback

When I’m super stuck on an assignment, I find that having an outside perspective can jumpstart my creativity and help steer me in a new, productive direction. Every individual has a unique point of view and experiences that may spark some solutions.

4. Get Rest

I know your to-do list is seven miles long and you still haven’t visited grandma this week, but get some sleep. A well-rested brain is going to work a lot better than a tired one. Aside from giving you bright-eyed glow, sleep is a way for the brain to store information and boost productivity due to the phenomenon of “sleep spindles.”

5. Brain Dump

Originally, I started doing brain dumps at night when I had a hard time falling asleep. Like many of us in today’s technology-driven generation, my brain doesn’t have a properly wired “off switch.” By writing down a bunch of gibberish that I had swirling around in the noggin, it helped relax my mind enough to fall asleep. I found that by re-reading these blurbs of nonsense written in my semi-conscious state at a later time helped bring unique ideas to fruition that I might not have come up with during the day. Similarly, when I’m sitting at my computer without an idea of what to write or how to approach a design, jotting down some random thoughts helps to begin developing my thought process.

I hope these tips help you the next time you find yourself at a creative standstill.
Comment below with any other ways you find inspiration!

[1] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-fitzpatrick/music-and-creativity_b_2253464.html
[2] https://soundcloud.com/inquiringminds/45-barb-oakley-the-science-of-learning

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