To create innovative and beautiful designs, you will need creativity. But sometimes this is easier said than done. I’ve put together some helpful information that can boost your creativity or help you face creative dry spells.
It already starts with your workstation. To be creative, you need a quiet environment to be less distracted. But sometimes it can also be helpful to change your workplace to come up with new ideas. And not just another room in your flat or office. How about working outside in nature or in a cafe? No matter where you are working, you need oxygen to think clearly. A fresh breeze can also be a welcome cool-down, especially in summer. A sufficient supply of oxygen is also important to stay awake and alert. This is your way of fighting headaches caused by stuffy air.
Good lighting conditions and a moderate room temperature also play a role. The more effort you have to make to even see your work equipment, the less resources you have left for further thought processes. Only when you feel comfortable you can achieve your top performance. Depending on your personal preferences, the room should be neither too cold nor too warm. Therefore, set up your workplace in such a way that you can cool down on hot days and warm up on colder ones. Lastly, surrounding sounds play a major role. We hear and process the noises from around us subconsciously without taking notice.
Tips to get your creative juices flowing
Every once in a while, you need to break through your daily routine and thought patterns. To help you finding new creative ways of thinking, I collected a few tips. Try them out and if you find them helpful, just integrate them into your daily life. You can:
- Listen to music. As already mentioned, surrounding sounds impact your thought process. While you cannot influence noises like street sounds or people talking, you can influence the music you are listening to. Depending on the task you are working on, listen to instrumental without any lyrics. No matter if we understand a language or not, vocals attract our attention. This is a researched psychoacoustic effect and can be really distracting. Especially while working concentrated, music and work interfere with each other, which makes it harder for you to focus on just one thing at a time. Instead of listening to up-tempo songs with lyrics, try out some Lo-Fi Playlists on YouTube or Spotify to enhance your focus.
- Write by hand. Handwriting influences your thought processes positively. Compared to digital notes, our brain filters less of our ideas when writing by hand. This can be helpful when finding as many ideas as possible at the start of a project.
- Change your position. Every now and then you should vary your position at work. Try to use a different chair or stand up while working. For some cases, it even can be helpful to lie down or take a walk. Because of your different point of view you may experience another view on your project.
- Redecorate. Your working environment is highly important, which includes your decoration. It consists of flowers, pictures and also your wall paint influences your mood subtly. Every color has a different effect on your psyche. While green is considered to be calming, orange can enhance your activeness.
- Plan less. Structuring your daily life is pretty important, especially when you want to keep an overview. But sometimes, too much structure can restrict your thoughts and thus block your creativity. For your next task, try to avoid structuring and just start working. That way, you create more space for your thoughts and ideas.
- Relax and distract. When you need creativity to get your work done, too much doggedness can shut your mind for the next idea. The longer you work on the same project, the less open you will be for new approaches. Give yourself a break, take a walk and open up for new stimuli. This helps to win distance to your project and allows you to move into the next creative phase.
- Take a shower. I bet that you have already heard of the fact that sometimes, the best ideas come in the shower. This is because you can not only take a shower as a hygiene measure, but also as relaxation. Your best ideas may come when you are completely relaxed and not even thinking about a problem.
- Be euphoric. Everything is easier when you love what you do. When you feel your mood becoming worse and you do not make any progress, remind yourself of your initial motivation. Why did you choose this career? Who did you already make happy with your work? Who did you inspire? When did your job make you happy? Then think about your current project. How will it feel, when you are done with it and how would your client react ideally? In a nutshell: create euphoria yourself.
Four Techniques against mental blocks
Most of us have already experienced mental blocks. Sometimes it just seems that you come to a halt. In order to avoid stress when your next deadline comes closer, I collected four techniques to overcome mental blocks.
Free association helps your thoughts to take new directions. To do so, open some pages of a dictionary at random and write down at least five words. Then try to connect these words to your current topic. How could you create a connection between a random word and the project you are working on? If you do this exercise successfully, you will be happy about a bunch of new thinking approaches.
A similar technique is writing freestyle. Write down all of your unfiltered thoughts. Do not think about importance or usefulness of your thoughts and do not try to connect your thoughts to your project immediately. Afterwards, read out your notes (loudly, if possible) and watch out for useful ideas. If you want to spice up this technique a little, give yourself a limited amount of time. For example, take 15 minutes to write down as many words as possible. The time pressure can help your brain to filter less and utilise everything that comes to mind.
When you have no ideas at all, you can get inspired by other companies or designers. It is always a good idea to keep an eye on your competitors, because they deal with the same or similar topics as you do. Of course, it is not about copying anybody’s ideas, but developing own concepts inspired by given material.
Sketchnotes are visual notes that combine pictures and words. This way, they save ideas multiple times in your memory. Sketchnotes do not have to be masterpieces. You can perfectly scribble something that comes to your mind as long as it represents your thughts. Often, they help you to get an overview of the most important aspects and features of a project and see things from a different perspective.
Now it’s your turn
I hope that these tips and techniques help your creativity to get going and dissolve the next mental block. When you are out of ideas for the next time, give one of them a go and see what happens. Do you have other ideas or methods? Let us know in the comments below!