Who doesn’t dream of having a creative idea that will change the world for the better and make us a bundle of money in the process?
Actually, most of us could do with better creative thinking in many areas of our lives from work to leisure to parenting.
But how do we get more great ideas?
These 7 creative tools can improve your creative thinking and have you brimming with great ideas in no time.
1. Break your habits
Our brains like to take short cuts and they won’t bother to dream up an innovative solution if they think they already have an answer. To get your brain out of the rut of thinking the same ideas over and over again you need to shake up your routines and do things differently.
Breaking old patterns is hard, but this strategy can greatly improve your creative thinking.
You can start with little things, such as taking a new route to work, rearranging your office or eating something you’ve never eaten before. Once you’ve built your habit-breaking muscles you can be more adventurous and start working towards a big goal, exciting activity or an adventurous holiday.
You can also break habits in your work life by thinking of as many solutions to a problem as possible rather than going with the first idea that comes to mind.
2. Draw your ideas
In his article, how geniuses think, Michael Michalko points out that ‘Galileo revolutionized science by making his thought visible with diagrams, maps, and drawings while his contemporaries used conventional mathematical and verbal approaches.’ Being more visual is a great strategy to improve your creative thinking.
It doesn’t matter if you can’t draw. These drawings and diagrams are to work things out and are not meant to be finished artworks. Stick figures or doodles work just as well. You could also cut out pictures and add to them creating a collage of ideas.
3. Ask more questions
As we get older, we tend to stop asking so many questions. Our thinking can become rigid. We may say thinks like ‘If it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ or ‘That’s how it has always been done’. When we ask questions we can begin to train ourselves to think more imaginatively and flexibly.
Asking questions about your what you want from a new idea can be a great way to generate more creative thinking. Ask yourself questions such as:
What does the world need from me?
Why does the world need this?
Where could I create something new?
Who do I want to create something for?
How many ways of developing my idea can I think of?
4. Think quantity, not quality.
The simplest, and yet the best way to generate great ideas is to generate lots of ideas. The classic example is Edison who failed many times at inventing the light bulb before his eventual world-changing success.
Sometimes our fear of getting something wrong can inhibit our creativity, so give yourself permission to do something badly. Make a bad picture, write a bad draft or a rubbish business plan, and then another and another. The more you produce the more likely you are to produce something great.
Another technique to boost your creative muscles is to pick a topic each day, then, generate twenty or thirty ideas around that topic. Your first ideas will probably be predictable and boring. However, the more you force yourself to think up new ideas the more imaginative and innovative they will become. By practicing this every day you will strengthen your creative thinking ready for when you really need it.
5. Mind Mapping
Mind mapping or brainstorming is a great creative tool if done properly. The secret to good mind-mapping is that no idea is too silly, useless or ridiculous to make it to the map. You must stop the inner critic which dismisses ideas as crazy or impractical before they have had a chance to see the light of day. If you are mind mapping alone, write every idea down no matter how pointless it seems. Mind mapping in groups only works if everyone in the groups feels secure and comfortable enough to share their wildest creative thinking without risk of embarrassment.
6. Socialize Outside Your Normal Circles
Spending all your time with people you know really well is nice, but it doesn’t necessarily improve your creative thinking. Taking the time to meet with people who have different ideas and fresh perspectives could be the stimulus you need. Enjoying the company of people who don’t know you very well also means you get to explain your ideas, goals, and values to them, too. Talking about your ideas can help you to develop them further. It doesn’t matter whether your new friends are online or offline, having some new conversations will get you out of your current thinking rut and ready to explore new ways of thinking.
7. Keep a Regular Journal
Keeping a journal is a great way to get creative ideas down on paper before they are lost. If you start a journal practice, you will also notice that your creativity begins to develop within the safe space of its pages. The ideas in the journal are for your eyes only and not for others to judge. This means you can get your most innovative, creative and madcap ideas down on the pages without listening to your inner critic. Journaling regularly for just ten minutes a day can see an increase in your creativity in as little as a few days.