I’m an idea guy. No on has ever accused me of not having an original thought. Most of the time the opposite is more accurate. The teams I lead usually fight overload with the number of ideas I produce. I have to discipline myself to “unthink” and give teams I lead permission to tell me when something is a bad idea.
But even idea people have lulls in their creative process. We grow stagnant, get bored and need help spurring thought.
So, how do idea people get new and original ideas? How do you spur creativity when you’re stuck in routines or can’t seem to come up with anything new?
Here are 7 things, which often work for me:
Take a walk
I stop what I’m doing and go for a brisk walk. Several times throughout the day I take a hike. When I was using FitBit I set myself a goal to walk at least 250 steps every hour during normal work hours and 10,000 steps per day. I usually had nearly twice that number and only missed the minimum number two days in four years. I’m not wearing a FitBit, but the activity level has remained the same.
Here’s the deal – the best ideas rarely come to me when I’m sitting at my desk. In fact, I actually never sit anyway because I use a standup desk. (The added benefit to walking throughout the day as a pastor was that I better knew my staff when I was roaming the halls of the church.)
Diagraming or drawing my thoughts makes me think. I have one wall in my office covered with idea paint. If thoughts get stale I start to play with dry erase markers. If I start writing or drawing always it leads to more ideas – every time. I also have several doodling apps on my iPad and laptop and a couple of mind-mapping apps.
This isn’t just taking a walk – it’s sweating. I workout hard. Whenever I’m in a lull, exercise triggers my brain. Sometimes a mid afternoon sweat will make the last half of the day my most productive in thought. And it’s good for my health.
Hang out with highly creative types
Iron sharpens iron. Creatives sharpen creativity. I like to occasionally hang out with random-thinking, highly creative types. I’m random, yet structured, so I have to pace my time with the over-the-top creatives, but they always trigger new ideas.
Going somewhere I’ve never been always fuels me. A new city. A new park. A new restaurant. A new coffee shop. A different library. Change the space and you expand the pace (of thought).
Take a shower
Seriously, don’t the best ideas hit you when you’re in the shower with no good way to record them? Or, is this only me? I’ve been working on a message – get stuck – go take a long shower and I come back loaded with new thoughts. Try it. Who says you can’t take more than one shower a day?
Play a game
This may seem so juvenile, and if it does, I’m sorry – though not really. You picked the wrong blog today, perhaps, but it often works for me. Before I tackle a writing project, sometimes I first play a game of solitaire or a crossword puzzle on my iPad. If I’m really stuck I have found value in reaching into my playful self. In most of my offices I’ve kept toys in the office. I have been known to challenge our staff in a game of putt putt through obstacles I created. Playing brings out the kid in me and the creative juices.
These are a few which help me when I need to be more creative.
What triggers your creative process?