4 Sure-Fire Ways to Increase Your Creativity

When times are tough, our first instinct is to tighten the reins. We hunker down and make do with what we have. But what if there was another way? What if you could expand, not contract, your options? That’s what creativity can do for your business. It unleashes more possibilities to address challenging times. Here are some sure-fire ways to increase your creativity and make room for new solutions.

Get in the mood.

Human performance expert Steven Kolter says neurological studies actually pinpoint a specific area of the brain used to problem solve. It’s sensitive to odd thoughts and strange hunches. People using that area were able to channel their brains to find less obvious ideas. They used those “creative” thoughts to find new ways of solving a problem.

So how do you fire up that area of the brain? Put yourself into a good mood. That creates the security your brain needs to pay attention to those novel thoughts. Kolter suggests the following can help you set the mood:

  • Practice gratitude – Trains the brain to focus on the positive. That feeds your reserve of unusual thoughts.
  • Be mindful – Trains the brain to be calm and nonreactive. That prevents you from ruling out thoughts and feelings. Open monitoring meditation is one way of doing that.
  • Exercise – Creates stress-reducing neurochemicals and increases the brain’s ability to detect more remote possibilities.

Move on.

There can come a point when your efforts to problem solve meet with diminishing returns. But that doesn’t mean you’re at a dead end. It’s time to step aside and do something else for a while. Take a short walk, work on an unrelated task or visit with a customer.

Why does this work? It creates the space your subconscious needs to surface new ideas. Think of it as an incubation period where the brain finds hidden connections between ideas. Some people call this their “3 a.m. aha moment.” The solution comes when you least expect it.

Rinse and repeat.

Thomas Edison is reported to have said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” His quote demonstrates the link between creativity and scientific inquiry. You experiment with ideas, changing one variable at a time. With each repetition, you’re forced to come up with another solution. If you repeat it enough times, your creativity will reveal the ultimate solution.

Email campaigns are a good opportunity to practice this. For example, you can change the subject line, add a video link or adjust the time of day you send it. With each tweak, you compare results and adjust. This evolution challenges you to constantly come up with creative solutions.

Phone a friend.

Why didn’t I think of that? Maybe it’s because two heads are better than one. There’s value in working with someone else. They bring a different set of experiences that helps them see the situation in a different way. That leads to different solutions. Some ideas may not be feasible, but they can lead you to think of creative solutions you wouldn’t have come up with on your own.  

Even if you are a one-person business, there are still opportunities to get another perspective. Organizations like your local Chamber of Commerce or SCORE let you network with other business owners who may have encountered the same issue. And don’t forget customers. Not only will you get some great ideas but they will be glad you value their input. That’s a strong way to build a loyal customer base.

Challenging times don’t always call for belt tightening. Creativity offers a way to loosen a notch or two by expanding the number of possibilities. Try these sure-fire ways of using it to innovate  new solutions.