“You Can’t use up your creativity. The more you use, the more you have” Maya Angelou
Creativity is a curious thing. Firstly, it’s like a muscle, the more you train it, the stronger it becomes. But it’s also true that when you overextend it and want to get it all done at once, you exhaust and burn it, creating the thought of creativity emptiness and boycotting your next creative session. When you investigate and see other ideas, you get inspired and come up with better concepts and works each time. It is true that pressure is not creativity’s best friend, but there’s a secret recipe to it.
We know that creativity doesn’t always just flow. Some days you will sit down and come with a concept you will just want to take back the next day, or it will take you so much time to develop something that on another day can be done very fast.
Some days you will do things you like and you’re amazed by, and some days you’ll ask yourself “what was I thinking?”
The key here is to respect the process, to control the narrative inside you, and understand that some days you’re not in the mood or the flow for it. The study of the brain shows us that when you do linear activities such as mathematics, reading, or monotonous activities such as reading your e-mail it’s hard to switch immediately to the creative side of you. This makes sense, as we know that the left side of the brain controls logical tasks, whereas the right-side controls tasks that have to do with creativity.
What does this mean? Just like a car going in reverse, you first need to stop, change gear and then start going forward.
How can I boost my creativity?
- Give it space: Understand it’s a shy friend, give it a safe and comfortable space to draft, and act without judgment with no expectations and all due respect for the process. Love your drafts, learn from everything you do that you like and dislike. Define it, identify patterns on the things you don’t like to understand which procedures don’t lead you to successful results. It’s always good to program enough time… if you finish before, great! You can use the extra minutes back into your day or you can relax and congratulate yourself. But if you don’t finish fast, you know you gave yourself space for it. (Also, if you have a long project I suggest breaking it down into small daily steps that lead to its completion) Taking it all in one day will lead to exhaustion and burning out.
- Plan your day: Plan your day smart and pair up activities that will support each other and help you move in with the flow rather than forcefully changing the side of the brain you’re using. Some tips are to always program the biggest nugget to swallow for the morning when you’re fresh and can tackle it with your best. Nevertheless, for most chronotypes, the early afternoon hours are often those when creativity boosts. Right before the afternoon slump. (It is important to keep in mind your chronotype, perhaps you’re a night owl and these timings change. As long as you identify your hours to boost creativity it’s fine). Because as humans we all operate in cycles.
- Create a routine: Really? Didn’t we just learn how linear and monotonous activities trump the creative process? Yes, they do. However, the brain has memory and when you plan a task for the same time frame every day your brain is more likely to follow along with the activity planned than to get distracted and sabotage you away from it. This will lead to you feeling at ease during your creative space of the day and hence flowing easier.
- Don’t rush: Rush creates stress and it blocks you from your maximum potential, but even if you manage to get things done under the pressure of a short deadline, you’ll realize you didn’t enjoy doing them, and you definitely want to make sure you enjoy what you’re doing, to boost your happiness and bring your passion along. If there’s one great friend to creativity it would be mindfulness.
- Keep track: Recording and having easy and organized access to what you’ve done lets you spot tendencies and your recipe for success as well as your ingredients for failure. This is very insightful. Find the tools that will help you within your industry. Keeping track of written creative work is different from keeping track of visual creative work. Nevertheless, both are possible and you can create metrics that matter to you in order to improve in the process.
The important thing is to understand and enjoy the process. To respect it and flow with it. To have patience and look at the big picture, to have an objective eye and distance yourself from your project to evaluate whether the results you are getting are what you intended them for or they need to be adjusted.
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