In a world increasingly driven by innovation and outside-the-box thinking, creativity is a highly valued skill. It’s no longer just the artists, writers, and musicians who benefit from tapping into their creative resources. Whether you are a marketer, an engineer, a teacher, or an entrepreneur, exercising your creativity can provide a competitive edge in your field.
Here, we present a list of 10 daily exercises that can help you enhance your creativity. These exercises are not field-specific; they are adaptable and beneficial for anyone wanting to improve their creative thinking.
1. Morning Pages
Practical Tip: Upon waking up, write three pages of longhand, stream-of-consciousness writing. This exercise comes from Julia Cameron’s book “The Artist’s Way”.
Actionable Advice: Don’t worry about grammar, punctuation, or whether your writing makes sense. The goal is to unlock your subconscious thoughts and clear your mind, making room for creative energy.
Example: You can write about your dreams, what you’re grateful for, what’s bothering you, or just narrate what you’re planning for the day.
2. Observe and Describe
Practical Tip: Choose an object or a scene and describe it in as much detail as possible, utilizing all five senses.
Actionable Advice: Focus on the textures, colors, shapes, smells, and sounds. The aim is to practice mindfulness and see ordinary things from a new angle.
Example: Instead of just drinking your morning coffee, describe its aroma, the texture of the cup, the sound it makes as it’s poured, and the flavor notes you can taste.
3. Mind Mapping
Practical Tip: Create a visual representation of related concepts, tasks, or ideas around a central subject.
Actionable Advice: Start with a core idea in the center and draw lines to associated thoughts, further branching out into sub-themes and details.
Example: If you’re working on a project at work, you could start with the project’s name in the center and branch out to list requirements, stakeholders, deadlines, and challenges.
Practical Tip: Set a timer for 10-15 minutes and write non-stop about anything that comes to mind.
Actionable Advice: The aim is to get into a flow state. If you find yourself stuck, write about why you are stuck. This will usually unlock more ideas.
Example: If you’re a programmer, you could freewrite about a coding problem you’re facing, possible solutions, and what coding languages or tools might help.
5. The 30 Circles Test
Practical Tip: Draw 30 circles on a piece of paper and turn each circle into something unique within a set timeframe (usually one minute).
Actionable Advice: This exercise forces you to think quickly and produce multiple ideas, boosting divergent thinking.
Example: One circle could become a sun, another a face, a third could be a wheel, and so on.
6. SCAMPER Technique
Practical Tip: SCAMPER stands for Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to Another Use, Eliminate, Reverse. Take an existing product or idea and apply these actions.
Actionable Advice: Try to think of at least one idea for each SCAMPER action to modify the existing concept.
Example: If you’re a chef, you could take a classic recipe and apply the SCAMPER technique to come up with a new dish.
7. The Six Thinking Hats
Practical Tip: Developed by Edward de Bono, this technique encourages you to look at a situation from different perspectives.
Actionable Advice: Take on six different ‘hats’: White (neutral, facts), Red (emotions), Black (judgment, caution), Yellow (optimism), Green (creativity), and Blue (control, organization).
Example: If you’re a teacher planning a lesson, consider what the facts are (White), how the students might feel about it (Red), potential pitfalls (Black), opportunities for engagement (Yellow), creative approaches (Green), and how to structure the lesson (Blue).
8. Random Word Association
Practical Tip: Pick a random word and brainstorm all the related ideas or thoughts that come to mind.
Actionable Advice: This exercise can be done alone or in a group and serves to make unexpected connections.
Example: If the word chosen is “Apple,” you might think of fruit, technology, Newton, and a host of other ideas.
Practical Tip: Allocate some time to let your mind wander freely.
Actionable Advice: Unlike forced brainstorming, daydreaming lets your subconscious do the work. The key is not to make it a lengthy distraction but a short, focused interval.
Example: Whether you’re an accountant or a graphic designer, taking 10-15 minutes off your busy schedule to daydream can produce unexpected solutions to problems you’re facing.
10. Physical Exercise
Practical Tip: Incorporate at least 20 minutes of physical exercise into your daily routine.
Actionable Advice: Physical activity increases blood flow to the brain and helps in releasing endorphins, which can make you more receptive to new ideas.
Example: Simple exercises like jogging, cycling, or even walking can suffice.
Creativity is not a static quality; it is dynamic and can be cultivated. These daily exercises are designed to expand your creative horizon and make you more adept at solving problems, generating new ideas, and being innovative, irrespective of your field. Start today, and witness how your creativity blossoms with consistent practice.