Instead of being regarded as a talent that only some possess, creativity should be treated as a skill that can be developed. Just like the muscles in our bodies, creativity can be trained and developed by providing a suitable environment and favourable conditions for growth.

A creative block need not pose an insurmountable hurdle; here are some helpful ways for you to overcome this pesky occurrence.   

1. Creating a Suitable Environment

Each one of us is capable of being creative. We simply require the right environment, stimulus, and support to achieve our potential. For example, employees at Google have access to perks like beach volleyball courts and free beer, elements which may look more suitable at a weekend party. The goal of offering these perks is to create an environment that allows employees to relax and get comfortable when at work, giving them the confidence to vocalise creative or wacky ideas.

While the majority of employers may baulk at implementing elements like this in their workplaces, it is possible to foster an overall culture of a similar nature. This results in a safe, creative space where unusual ideas are celebrated and where creativity is lauded.

2. Promote Role-Play in the Office

Role-playing with a teammate can help you develop novel situations to problems by adopting a client’s or customer’s point of view. Even if you have already made the effort to take on a client’s mindset, physically acting the part has the potential to generate powerful revelations and project situations.

It’s time to bring the power of role play back to the workplace. 

3. Keep Toys on Your Desk

What better way to bring play to the office than to keep toys on your workdesk? Many creative design companies encourage employees to keep small toys on their desks, from building blocks to plasticine and origami paper.

Forming something physically with your hands activates a different set of neural pathways, and can offer the perfect creative jolt for someone seeking inspiration. 

4. Learn a New Skill

Taking up an adult education class can also have a similar effect on your creativity and thought process. Classes on cooking, painting, pottery or language can have a similar effect to that of manipulating small toys with your hands.

While it may not be directly relevant to your industry of work, learning a new skill exposes you to new tools and methods of expressing yourself through craftwork.

Working with these tools, both physical and mental, expands your ability horizons and help to provide new and novel solutions for problems.

5. Become an Explainer

Being creative represents your ability to aggregate existing knowledge and repackage them in new, exciting packages. In order to improve your creative ability, it is important to increase your knowledge about, well, everything!

In today’s age of Internet searches at our fingertips, there is a tendency to assume that information is always available and there is no need to internalise it. However, if you have to interrupt your train of thought whenever you need information on something, it will be disruptive to the creative process.

In order to maximise the quality of your knowledge, it helps to develop the habit of explaining things back to yourself. For example, watch an interesting TED talk and explain it to yourself at the end of it. This habit reviews the recently consumed content and gradually grooms you into an accomplished storyteller and more creative thinker overall! 

6. The 30 Circles - One Minute Test

In need of an urgent creative boost? Try taking the 30 Circles - One Minute test. Originally created by Stanford Creativity Researcher Bob McKim, the 30 Circles test comprises the following steps:

  1. Draw 30 circles on a piece of blank paper

  2. Adapt as many of them as possible into objects (i.e. the sun, a human being, a globe, a basketball, etc.)

The difference between a child and an adult attempting this test is markedly noticeable. Most adults tend to self-edit themselves throughout the creative process, often ending up with a lower quantity of doodles than a child would. Adults also tend to implement assumed rules like “no duplication” or “no combining circles”, due to a perceived need for structure and organisation.

These self-edits and rule implementation habits tend to limit the overall creative process, so work on turning “on” your creative switch by setting yourself free in the 30 Circles - One Minute Test!

7. Get Mobile

The next time you face a problem or a creative block, go for a walk!

Physically moving your body while contemplating your problem may offer a different thought perspective and potential solution.

A 2014 study by Stanford researchers Marily Oppezzo and Daniel Schwartz found that walking indoors or outdoors similarly boosted creative inspiration. The act of walking, and not the environment, was the main factor. The study was inspired by previous results that found a positive correlation between aerobic exercise and long-term cognitive function.

So, the next time you face a metaphorical creative block, take a walk around it! 

8. Shine on, You Crazy Doodle 

If you find yourself in need of an urgent creativity boost and cannot afford to go for a stroll, an alternative is readily available! Pick up a pen and a piece of paper, and start doodling.

Jackie Andrade, a psychology professor at Plymouth University in the U.K. speculates that because doodling distracts people from consciously thinking about a problem, it allows for a “subconscious incubation of the solution.” She likened the process to dreaming, citing the example of mulling over a problem for an entire day only to have the solution become apparent early the next morning.

In addition to providing a creativity jumpstart, doodling also serves to sharpen your focus when in a meeting or lecture. Doodles can be anything, from names or signatures repeated over and over, to cartoons, abstract patterns or scribbles.

Creativity is not a natural talent that some are born with and others are bereft of. With some targeted exercises and drills, you can optimise your internal processes and become a more creative thinker as well!  

Now that you’re well on your way to becoming a more creative individual, find out how to power up your short-term memory and become a more productive person!  

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