Unlock Your Ingenuity: 7 Ways to Be Your Most Creative Self

published Dec 31, 2016
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(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

Maybe you feel like you’re not a creative person in general, or maybe you just need a little bit of a push to find the solution you’re seeking—either way, there are plenty of small things you can do to be more creative. It might not feel like it, but the brilliant thoughts and ideas you’re looking for are already in your head, waiting to be put down on paper, you just can’t see them yet. These tips can help you see things from different angles and develop habits that will have you feeling more productive and inspired.

Brainstorm with Others

Sometimes all it takes to get from tired to inspired—or from a seemingly useless idea to the solution to all your problems—is a few minutes of chatting about your thoughts with someone else. Having a fresh perspective can help you remember ideas you may have forgotten, evolve ideas you already have, and come up with things you never would’ve thought of on your own. If you’re really stumped, try to have a quick brainstorming session with a friend or a coworker—ask if you can run a few ideas past them and see if they have any thoughts. Even just a few minutes can help get your creativity gears turning.

Talk to Yourself

If you don’t already talk to yourself (I’m an only child, so, it’s always been common practice for me) it might seem a little weird and take some getting used to, but it can be super helpful. It’s not about having imaginary conversations with yourself—it’s about talking through your thoughts and ideas so you can shape them better. Spend time speaking what you’re thinking out loud, or explaining things you read or hear back to yourself. It can help you learn and process things better and in new ways—kind of like having a group brainstorming sesh, but solo.

Make Lists

When you think of lists, you likely think of grocery lists or to-dos, but you can also use lists to jog your brain when you need a creativity boost. Write down all the things you want or need to include in what you’re working on—sometimes the act of physically writing things out and looking at them can help you figure out how to approach something from a new angle. Write down any ideas you have, then think about how those ideas will work with what you need to accomplish. Go through your list until you pick a solution that works or find a way to combine them.

Keep a Notebook with You

If you want to be more creative, you need to make sure you’re prepared for inspiration to strike—because it can strike anywhere. Keep a notebook and pen on or near you at all times so you can write down any ideas you might have right when they come to you, otherwise you might forget them. Plus, always having a notebook on you means you’ll always have a place to write all those lists you’ll be making.

Ask Yourself Questions

Whenever you feel like you hit a creative wall, try asking yourself questions about whatever it is you’re working on or trying to solve. Even if they seem like silly questions you already know the answer to, ask yourself anyway as if you were someone else who was curious about your project. Forcing yourself to articulate what you’re working on, either out loud or on paper, can help you see what areas you need to work on and and what needs to be changed. And if you ask yourself a question you don’t already know the answer to, you might discover a new perspective.

Take Breaks

Sitting in one spot all day might work for you, but in many cases, doing so can leave you feeling bored and unproductive. If you’re feeling uninspired, get up and take a walk, take a break to do something else, or relocate to a new place (leaving your home office to go work at a coffee shop, for example). Sometimes a short break or a change of scenery is all you need to get your motivation back. Plus, people watching might just give you some ideas, depending on what you’re working on.

Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes

If you do nothing else on this list, let this be your only takeaway: Mistakes are important to the creative process. If you try to be perfect all the time and never mess up, you might never get anywhere. And sometimes the best ideas come from making a mistake and having to find a way out of it. Obviously you shouldn’t intentionally try to sabotage the things you’re working on, but if you do mess up, don’t guilt yourself over it. Learn from it, and adapt.