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Spark creativity: Tips and tricks to boost your creative thinking

According to a survey of 1,500 company leaders, creativity is the key to success. Unfortunately, coming up with brilliant ideas on demand can be tough—when ideas are needed in a high-pressure meeting, sometimes you draw a blank. But with practice and a bit of know-how, it gets easier. Read on to discover the tips and tricks successful people use to overcome creative blocks and keep their innovation flowing.


Keep a journal or scrapbook

One way to be creative under pressure is to always file away good ideas whenever you come across them. Keeping a notebook full of inspiration means you won’t just have ideas written down; you’ll be more likely to remember them.

Author Joseph Grenny says he highlights interesting ideas as he reads, then pastes key lines into a document, helping him remember them and “to conjure fertile connections” later.

Start new conversations

Sometimes, a new perspective can offer a rich source of ideas, and there are few better ways of acquiring it than by speaking with a wide variety of people. Try attending conferences in your field or simply inviting people from other departments into your meeting for a fresh look at things.

“It’s critical that you amass as much knowledge and perspectives from the broadest range possible. Creativity, after all, is all about combining knowledge in new and unique ways,” says Jim Miller, CEO of 3D printing company Arevo.

Visualise the problem with a sketch

If simply talking about the issue isn’t producing a solution, you might try another approach altogether. Research suggests that doodling can improve our focus on a task and help with creativity.

“When the mind starts to engage with visual language, you get neurological access that you don’t have when you’re in a linguistic mode,” says Sunni Brown, author of The Doodle Revolution.

Go for a walk

The Romantic poets may have been onto something when they set out for lakes and mountains in search of inspiration: walking in nature is good for creativity. A Stanford School of Education study found a stroll could boost creativity by 60%.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is convinced: he is reported to favour meetings on a trail near the company headquarters, which offers sweeping views of the valley.

Embrace constraints

It might seem counterintuitive, but limitations can actually be a powerful fuel for creativity. Instead of feeling stifled by tight budgets, short timelines, or limited resources, try viewing them as challenges to overcome. The need to work within boundaries forces you to think differently, explore unconventional solutions, and perhaps discover something truly innovative.

Practice creativity

Creative people often say that generating ideas is like using a muscle: The more you work on it, the stronger your ideas get. The entrepreneur and writer James Altucher sets himself the task of writing down ten new ideas every day to strengthen his creative thinking.

“Don’t be afraid to test, fail, test, fail, try again, repeat, improve, test, fail again, and keep improving. The way to keep improving? Keep coming up with ideas,” he says.

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