Have you had one of those days where no matter how much you think you just can’t come up with a single idea? I sure did! Although there isn’t much scientific explanation for mental blocks, it does happen to all of us.
May be it is due to lack of inspiration or due to not-so motivating results, or due to mental exhaustion, whatever the reasons are – it is important for us to get out of this block and get our creative juices flowing.
Here are some tips on how to do that:
1. Have some side projects going
When you are stuck with one project due to lack of ideas, then sometimes, the best way to solve the problem is by pushing it off your mind completely and focusing on something else.
Your side projects such as organising the house, doing laundry, rock collecting, or any other hobby for that matter, can help you distract yourself and still stay productive, and this way when you get back to your job again, you feel fresh and much less frustrated.
Basically, your fun side projects can help you uplift your mood and which in turn will help you think better and feel more energetic.
2. Make an unexpected change in your routine
Once in awhile, doing something out of the ordinary can get your serotonin levels going and by extension, help your brain function better.
Take for example our morning routines: how much thought do you put into doing your morning routine? Almost none, right? This mechanical living dampens our creative thinking; we slowly become nothing more than a creature of habit. This is why it is important to switch up your routines or do something out of the ordinary sometimes.
At my startup Hiver, we have a rule for every employee to take an hour off during the work day to do something they like, such as reading a book, or watching a sitcom, or play loud music for a while. Yes, we take this seriously, and people have had to strum guitars even if it’s a new-feature-release-day. This amps up the energy in the room and helps them get back to work with a fresh and clear head.
Here are some ideas you can try:
3. Hit the bed
Did you know that people are 33% more likely to infer connections among distantly related thoughts after sleep?
Well, it’s true! According to a Harvard researcher, when you sleep on new ideas, you are more likely to see the connection between two different points and come up with solutions.
So may be the next time you hit a dead end, all you need to do is to get a good nap.
4. Listen to uplifting music
Listening to the right music can boost your creativity according to this article.
According to Daniel. J. Levitin, a neuroscience professor at Mcgill university, most of the creative ideas happen when your mind is wandering and you experience a flood of random and unconnected thoughts.
Listening to music can put you in this mode and thereby, boosts your creativity (source).
Music has the ability to shift our brain waves – certain songs can make us experience theta waves which can boost our ability to think creatively.
Since music has the ability to physically affect us, we experience mood shifts when we are listening to a song.
5. Find a new way to express an old idea
You know what’s much easier to do than coming up with a whole new idea? Repurposing old ideas. Despite what most people say, raw inspiration and creativity don’t happen as often, at least not often enough to consistently run a business.
Don’t focus your creative energy only on coming up with original ideas – you will exhaust yourself, instead, focus on finding creative ways to express old ideas.
So let’s say you are a writer, are you going to try and come up with a new unheard-of topic to write every week? For how long can you keep that up? Instead, take an old and obvious idea and express it in your style, adding your own perspectives.
‘Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.’ – Steve Jobs
6. Cross the t’s and dot the i’s
Your book is due next month, you only finished 50% of it, and you are stuck – you can’t seem to type even a single line. What now? Well, did you know that paying attention to details can help you think more creatively?
So, instead of pushing yourself to work on the other half of the book, proof read everything you have written so far. Pay attention to details while doing so – that way, you become more mindful and be in the present.
When you become more present, you tend to shift your focus from the frustration of not being able to create and focus on the book instead, which will, in turn help your brain function better.
7. Mess up the work space
As opposed to popular belief, a messy workspace helps you think creatively while an organised workspace helps you be more productive.
“Being in a messy room led to something that firms, industries, and societies want more of – creativity,” according to study researcher Kathleen Vos, a psychological scientist, and marketing professor at the University of Minnesota.
So the next time you are in a rut, instead of cleaning out your desk, let the clutter collect a bit!
8. Work in a cafe
According to a study, a moderate noise level of 70 decibels (approx. equal to the noise level at a cafe) can actually fire up your creative cognition.
In fact, based on this theory, an app called Coffitivity was developed – it transfers the ambient noises of a cafe to your desktop helping you think creative.
So turns out, to boost up your creativity, a cafe is a better option than a library.
9. Fire up the laptop and just research your topic (or thereabouts)
This time, when you are stuck, don’t feel frustrated about it. Instead, surf the internet. For example, if you are a blogger and are struggling to start writing your next post, just read something in the general ballpark of your next chosen topic.
When you start reading about relevant topics and thoughts, you will automatically trigger your thinking process. You come across one idea and you can generate several other ideas similar to it and this can help turn those wheel in your head.
10. Use your emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage one’s own and others emotions. A lot of times, we have mental blocks not because someone switched off the creative part of our brain, but because of some underlying problem.
Using your EQ to understand what the real problem is can help you get your swag back. Is it lack of confidence, or fear of failure, or the feeling of rejection at work etc? There could be a number of such problems which can induce stress and hinder your thinking process. Find it and solve it!
Creativity is piercing the mundane to find the marvelous.