20 Tips from Psychology for Boosting Creativity
By Kendra Cherry
According to cognitive psychologist Robert J. Sternberg, creativity can be broadly defined as “…the process of producing something that is both original and worthwhile” (2003). Creativity is all about finding new ways of solving problems and approaching situations. This isn’t a skill restricted to artists, musicians or writers; it is a useful skill for people from all walks of life. If you’ve ever wanted to boost your creativity, these tips can help.
1. Commit Yourself to Developing Your Creativity
The first step is to fully devote yourself to developing your creative abilities. Do not put off your efforts. Set goals, enlist the help of others and put time aside each day to develop your skills.
2. Become an Expert
One of the best ways to develop creativity is to become an expert in that area. By having a rich understanding of the topic, you will be better able to think of novel or innovative solutions to problems.
3. Reward Your Curiosity
One common roadblock to developing creativity is the sense that curiosity is an indulgence. Rather than reprimanding yourself, reward yourself when you are curious about something. Give yourself the opportunity to explore new topics.
4. Realize that Creativity is Sometimes Its Own Reward
While rewarding yourself is important, it is also important to develop intrinsic motivation. Sometimes, the true reward of creativity is the process itself, not the product.
5. Be Willing to Take Risks
When it comes to building your creative skills, you need to be willing to take risks in order to advance your abilities. While your efforts may not lead to success every time, you will still be boosting your creative talents and building skills that will serve you well in the future.
6. Build Your Confidence
Insecurity in your abilities can suppress creativity, which is why it is important to build confidence. Make note of the progress you have made, commend your efforts and always be on the lookout for ways to reward your creativity.
7. Make Time for Creativity
You won’t be able to develop your creative talents if you don’t make time for them. Schedule some time each week to concentrate on some type of creative project.
8. Overcome Negative Attitudes that Block Creativity
According to a 2006 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, positive moods can increase your ability to think creatively. According to Dr. Adam Anderson, senior author of the study, “If you are doing something that requires you be creative or be in a think tank, you want to be in a place with good mood.” Focus on eliminating negative thoughts or self-criticisms that may impair your ability to develop strong creative skills.
9. Fight Your Fear of Failure
The fear that you might make a mistake or fail in your efforts can paralyze your progress. Whenever you find yourself harboring such feelings, remind yourself that mistakes are simply part of the process. While you may occasionally stumble on your path to creativity, you will eventually reach your goals.
10. Brainstorm to Inspire New Ideas
Brainstorming is a common technique in both academic and professional settings, but it can also be a powerful tool for developing your creativity. Start by suspending your judgment and self-criticism, then start writing down related ideas and possible solutions. The goal is to generate as many ideas as possible in a relatively short span of time. Next, focus on clarifying and refining your ideas in order to arrive at the best possible choice
11. Realize That Most Problems Have Multiple Solutions
The next time to approach a problem, try looking for a variety of solutions. Instead of simply going with the first idea you have, take the time to think of other possible ways to approach the situation. This simple activity is a great way to build both your problem-solving and creative thinking skills.
12. Keep a Creativity Journal
Start keeping a journal to follow your creative process and track the ideas you produce. A journal is a great way to reflect back on what you have accomplished and look for other possible solutions. This journal can be used to save ideas that can later serve as future inspiration.
13. Create a Mind Map
A mind map is a great way to connect ideas and look for innovative answers to questions. Create a mind map by writing down a central topic or word. Next, link related terms or ideas around the central word. While similar to brainstorming, this technique allows for branching ideas and offers a very visual way of seeing how these ideas are linked.
14. Challenge Yourself
Once you have developed some basic creative skills, it is important to continually challenge yourself in order to further advance your abilities. Look for more difficult approaches, try out new things and avoid always using the same solutions you have used in the past.
15. Try the “Six Hats” Technique
The “six hats” technique involves looking at a problem from six differing perspectives. By doing this, you can produce more ideas than you might have had you only looked at the situation from one or two points of view.
• Red Hat: Look at the situation emotionally. What do your feelings tell you?
• White Hat: Look at the situation objectively. What are the facts?
• Yellow Hat: Use a positive perspective. Which elements of the solution will work?
• Black Hat: Use a negative perspective. Which elements of the solution won’t work?
• Green Hat: Think creatively. What are some alternative ideas?
• Blue Hat: Think broadly. What is the best overall solution?
16. Look for Sources of Inspiration
Never expect creativity to just happen. Look for new sources of inspiration that will give you fresh ideas and motivate you to generate unique answers to questions. Read a book, visit a museum, listen to your favorite music or engage in a lively debate with a friend. Utilize whatever strategy or technique works best for you.
17. Create Opportunities for Creativity
In addition to looking for inspiration, you also need to create your own opportunities for creativity. This might involve tackling a new project or finding new tools to use in your current projects.
18. Consider Alternative Scenarios
When approaching a problem, utilize “what if…” questions to consider each possible scenario. If you take a specific approach, what will the outcome be? By looking at these alternatives beforehand, you’ll be better able to develop creative solutions to problems.
19. Create a Flow Chart
When you are developing a new project, start by creating a flow chart to track the presentation of the project from start to finish. Look for various paths or sequences of events that might occur. A flow chart can help you visualize the final product, eliminate potential problems and create unique solutions.
20. Try the Snowball Technique
Have you ever noticed how one great idea often leads directly to another? You can take advantage of this by utilizing a “snowball technique” when you are generating ideas for your project. If the idea isn’t appropriate for your current work, set it aside to work on later or implement it in a future project.