5 Ways to Jump-Start Creativity

Unlike other skills — such as organization or logical thinking — creativity comes and goes. Sometimes, you’re brain seems to be firing off one great idea after another. Other times, however, you’re stuck.

This may be the reality, but there’s lots you can do to enhance and grow your creativity — and even eliminate the “ruts.” All jobs require creative thinking and writing, from marketing tasks to entrepreneurial strategies, to coming up with dynamic and fresh ways to present information.

With a few simple strategies, you can get your creative juices flowing:

1. Benchmark new sources.

When benchmarking a current or upcoming project, try to find new and interesting sources. Instead of looking at similar projects, businesses or companies that correspond well to yours, challenge yourself to research many projects that differ greatly.

For example, if you’re examining creative ways to improve your business-to-business internet marketing campaign, look at business-to-business examples in highly different companies, business-to-consumer examples, and examples in the military, non-profit and higher education sectors. You may be surprised to find useful techniques when benchmarking these sources.

2. Follow interesting people in your field (and a few who aren’t).

When you follow people with creative perspectives on your work — through their books, blogs and twitter feeds — you benefit from a consistent stream of new ideas. Follow people who are outside your field to stretch your mind and challenge yourself to think about different issues.

3. Arrange informal meetings with creative people.

We all know (and admire) creative people. Nurture your relationships with them by asking for their valuable input on your current projects. Ask someone creative out to lunch to discuss their projects, new strategies and bounce ideas off one another. Collaboration, in any form, breeds creativity.

4. Vary your tasks as much as possible.

Don’t allow yourself to act or think monotonously. Instead, vary tasks as much as possible. When you find yourself becoming “stuck” on one project or tasks, switch to a different one. This will help you stay mentally active and more open to new ideas.

5. Clear your head.

Take the time to step back from your projects to exercise, socialize or learn about something entirely new. This is one of the best ways to refresh creative thinking.

Some people find that more frequent, shorter breaks help jump-start their creativity. I’m one of those people, so the pomodoro technique — where one works for 25 minutes, then takes a 5 minute break — works very well for me. Others prefer to work continuously for a longer period of time and take fewer, longer breaks. No matter what you prefer, try to set a time or use software that reminds you to take regular breaks and clear your head.

How about you? Do you have any other tips for getting out of a creative rut? Are there other ways to enhance your creativity?


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