Would you describe yourself as ‘creative’? If not, maybe you are your own worst enemy when it comes to stretching the boundaries. Creativity can be defined as our ability to produce new ideas and forge connections between seemingly disparate concepts.
At its best, creativity can bring inspiration, invigoration and a renewed sense of energy to our lives.
At its worst, we’ve got nothing. Nada. Zilch.
And that can feel pretty terrible when you most need to crank out fresh ideas.
Individuals who regularly find and engage their creative genius avoid certain practices. Contrary to popular belief, creativity is a skill that can be cultivated over time.
Read on to discover 5 things that you choose to do (consciously or not) that smother your creativity:
1) Work in Silence. Research shows that a moderate level of ambient noise can help people be more productive/creative. Note that the operative word here is ‘moderate’.
The mind can feed off of the unpredictable nature of a noisy environment like a coffee shop). Check out apps like Coffitivity that can actually help enhance performance by simulating conditions that promote creative cognition.
2) Maintain a Sour Mood. Get your happiness on and banish the blues! Studies at the University of Western Ontario show that a positive outlook can lead to more creativity.
Creativity ultimately stems from feeling of security – if you feel safe, you may be more open to taking intellectual risks with your thoughts and ideas.
3) Persist Throughout the Night. While burning the midnight oil may seem like a good idea, it isn’t. Sleep recharges creativity by consolidating and ‘cementing’ memories, which can reveal subtle patterns and insights.
Research from the University of California Berkley found that sleep provides a positive influence on our ability to mentally establish remote connections. Your work ethic is admirable – kind of. But it isn’t doing you any favors in the innovation department.
4) Focus 24-7. Your intense (cough – maniacal) concentration may actually do more harm than good; planned downtime can make your creative thought processes more productive by providing your brain with a much needed release. Disconnect and do something tactile like coloring or doodling for a true break.
A 2009 study in the Journal of Applied Cognitive Psychology found that doodling engages the mind and enhances the learning process. Ironically, doodling can actually increase concentration. Don’t be afraid to step away when you need to up your creativity game.
Routine and somewhat habitual activities like taking a shower or going for a drive (especially on the highway) can be just the catalyst to liberate your mental reserves for a breakthrough. Neuroscientist Alice Flaherty suggests that events that relax us (like the shower) stimulate the release of dopamine that in turn can influence our creative drive. Distraction and dopamine can ultimately combine to create the perfect storm of ideas.
5) Stick to the Same Spot. Take time away from the office to renew and recharge. This may come in the form of vacation or opting to work elsewhere for a short period of time if that is a possibility.
Explore different physical spaces and environments to shake up your routine if you can do so. Work in a different location, move to another room, etc.
Engineer Your Bliss Challenge: Make choices that unleash your creativity.
Which of these creativity traps could you actively avoid going forward? Let me know in the comments below.
Did you like this article? If so, please join the ‘Engineer Your Bliss’ community and receive the FREE Bliss Blueprint Workbook and Coaching Guide. You’ll also receive periodic communications including tips and resources that I only share via email.
Click the button below for access: