Five Simple Ways to Increase Your Creativity & Come Up With Better Ideas
In a way, as entrepreneurs, we’re all paid for our creativity. Whether your business is in a creative industry or not you still have to come up with your fair share of ideas.
There’s blog posts and social media content to create, your products and services need to be valuable and uniquely marketed to gain traction, and speaking of marketing it seems like there’s always some kind of copy that needs to be written for something.
That’s good and bad news. Good because it means that everything you need to grow your business is technically already inside you. Bad because creativity and inspiration can seem like mysterious woodland creatures that just show up whenever they want and eat all your Doritos.
I know how real the struggle is… as a designer I’m literally exchanging money for ideas, which can be intimidating sometimes. Instead of turning to chocolate and alcohol over the years I’ve come up with some tactics to help me deliver consistently for my clients.
I thought it might be helpful to share some of those tips with you to help you keep the ideas flowing and get unstuck when you need to, so here are my top four creativity boosting ideas!
Find a good way to capture your ideas on the fly
There’s a pretty good chance you already have more ideas than you think, they’re just showing up at inconvenient times. Finding a way to reliably capture those is a great first step, because in my experience remembering your ideas is half the battle. I slipped away from Evernote for a long time because I couldn’t figure out how it fit into my processes. Since my business has grown and I’ve gotten busier though it’s become more invaluable to me for collecting all the random ideas and thoughts that come up while I’m doing other things. I have the app on my phone and it adds a feature that allows me to quickly add a note without even opening the app - super convenient for jotting down a recommendation for a service or book that I heard on a podcast while making dinner. I keep a notebook for business growth ideas and will frequently take a voice note while wandering around the house brainstorming a business idea. Being able to quickly record a voice note keeps the idea fresh in my mind, and brainstorming it out loud usually helps me flesh it out. Later I’ll listen to the note and make a bulleted list of important bits.
Keep an inspiration file
This is something else I use Evernote for, although not as consistently. If I’m browsing the interwebs and read a blog post that sparks an idea, I’ll save it to an inspiration file in Evernote. Sometimes it’s a graphic on Pinterest, or a course that reminds me of something I want to build in the future, or maybe a sign at a restaurant that I take a picture of with my phone. Your inspiration may vary, but having a place to store all these little bits and pieces, and actually making a point to save them when you find them, can be helpful when you’re staring at a blank screen later.
If your job doesn’t require you to be creative on demand (and even if it does) it may be hard to switch out of get it done mode and into creative thinking. I know I can easily slip into autopilot during the day and focus on just the next task at hand, so if I need to come up with ideas for something, whether it’s blog posts or business growth, I try to set aside a block of time just for that. I’ll make it an actual transition too… I’ll turn away from the computer, pull out my notebook, and maybe light a candle or turn on some non-distracting music. It signals to my brain that it’s time for something different.
Just start writing
This seems overly simplistic, and it is a little bit. But it’s also not. One thing I’ve learned is that you can’t always wait for creativity to find you, you have to open the door and invite it in. I can’t count the number of times I’ve sat staring at a blank screen waiting for the inspiration to write a blog post or start a logo concept. Inevitably though, if I just start doing *something*, the right path will show up. Stuck on a blog post topic? Make yourself write down ten potential ideas. They don’t even have to be good. I’m not sure why this works, but my theory is it’s something like letting a car warm up in the winter. When you first start your brain is cold, sleepy, and mostly in the mood to watch more MadMen, but after sputtering out a few not-so-hot ideas it starts to warm up and step into the flow.
Get out of your head and into your body
Again, overly simplistic but effective. Step away from your desk and go for a walk, or wash the dishes, vacuum the den, or do some yoga. This can be especially helpful if you’ve been hard at work brainstorming and intentionally creating. Just like your other muscles, your brain needs to rest between workouts to heal and create new connections. Walk away and let your mind wander while you do something physical that doesn’t require your focus. Bonus points if you break a sweat in the process. Make sure you’ve already come up with a system for capturing your ideas before doing this one by the way… you don’t want to be halfway around the block when your next book topic shows up.
I’d love to hear your tips in the comments as well!