Creative thinking is a lot like running: if you want to hit your mile time, you need to put in the effort through training. Training in the gym allows a runner to bring those skills to the track. Similarly, training your creative mind outside of work will help you bring new ideas to your team.
I’ve read a lot of blog articles and books about this, and there are a ton of things that can help with creative thinking! Almost so much, in fact, that it can be overwhelming.
Here are the 5 things that have worked for me, and that will certainly allow you to bring creative thinking to your team and see the results.
I talk a lot about this because of how effective it is! So many successful people across so many fields have used journaling to help achieve their goals.
This is how I recommend journaling:
- Sit at a desk with your journal
- Begin writing whatever is on your mind. For example, I often begin with something like “I am now writing in my journal.” Don’t think of anything to write; write down what is already going through your head. The point is to simply take the thoughts that are naturally on your mind and put them on paper.
- Keep going! Write at least one page of this. Don’t look back at what you wrote, and don’t think about what you will write. Simply put your thoughts on paper without giving any effort to think. What you will find is that your thoughts start to take form. You will most likely dwell on one or two thoughts in this writing. I recommend writing 1-3 pages.
- Don’t share your journal. Don’t look back at your journal. Don’t allow anyone—including yourself—to judge your writing. The fear of being judged will hinder this wonderful process.
Having ideas is great, but if you don’t listen to yourself than it’s all for nothing. Having quiet time each day can help you hear your thoughts, and give you the chance to note the good ones.
Here’s an excerpt from an article I wrote about this last week:
Constantly consuming information, while it will make us smarter, won’t give us time to think creatively and digest any of the information we have taken in. If all we do is listen to other people’s ideas, we have no time to think of our own. Even unnecessarily talking disrupts our silence.
By giving our brains a chance to rest from all this noise on a daily basis, we open our minds up to the creative potential that we all have. A little bit of silence every day can be even more helpful to someone’s career than being available 24/7 for every single email.
Making Use of Free Time
Netflix is an amazing thing, but watching hours of TV during your free time doesn’t give you a chance to have new ideas. Just like how unused muscles atrophy, so too does creative thinking.
Instead of watching TV, consider doing something more active for the brain, such as reading. This could also be a great time to journal or meditate.
Ideas die in a vacuum; if you want ideas to grow, you actually have to share them. When you share with your team, you can weed out the good ones from the bad ones.
Even if an idea is shot down by your team, you can work with them to figure out why it was a bad idea, and what you can do to potentially make it work!
One of the biggest reasons why people squash their creativity is because they’re afraid of what others will think of them. A potentially million dollar idea can be suppressed because the team member who has it thinks they’ll be laughed at.
Your team is there for you to bounce ideas off of. You don’t need 10/10 good ideas; just 1/10 is enough to work!
Want to learn more about something? Take data.
There’s a saying, “What gets measured gets managed.” If you want to test new ideas, take data on EVERY aspect of it that you possibly can. You’ll then have a much more complete picture of whether a crazy idea is actually that crazy, or if some part of it will work.
Similarly, keep track of your creative practices and ideas which follow. Does journaling work for you, or is 20 minutes of meditation better?
The data will tell.