The Best Ways to Continually Recharge Your Brain Throughout Your Career
Modern society often views “creativity” as a natural gift. Something a few lucky individuals are born with where the practice and the refinement of their talent come’s easily. Creativity however is a skill that can be learnt just like any other.
Whether you’re an artist, writer or an entrepreneur looking for an innovative idea, practice and incorporating creativity into your every day life can help foster new ways of thinking in the search for that elusive Eureka moment.
1. Be prolific
As children we’re much less self-critical of our creativity. Kids will happily experiment with ideas, pictures, drawings and doodles without any fear that it’s not 100% perfect.
Worrying yourself to death or painstakingly creating a concept before abandoning it — even for the smallest fault — can be a paralysing way to work.
By throwing yourself into every idea, you can work through and find solutions that you wouldn’t necessarily have thought of had you spent days agonising over a concept.
If you can accept some failures and don’t always strive for perfection, you really increase your chances of producing something amazing and will find yourself constantly learning new things.
2. Run with ideas
Being prolific means going in at the deep end. If you refuse to get started before you’ve brainstormed your brainstorms, thinking through an idea from every possible angle, you can end up with nothing at all.
The only way you can find out if an idea will work is to actually try it out. You can save a lot of time by seeing an idea through early, if only on a provisional basis, to see whether it holds up to your own or a clients brief.
Consume everything. Read, watch films, search for inspiration on the internet, check out the work of those famous and obscure in your field, and absorb absolutely everything.
While people can understandably worry that this as a habit could make their work derivative, often-original ideas can be sparked by your unique reaction to the work of others.
By being interested and engaged in the world, the chances are that your work will reflect this passion and become more interesting and engaging for other people.
While it’s never a good idea to conduct blatant plagiarism, your great creative idea could be hiding in someone else’s project. Inspiration is often found in the works of others arguably all thought and creative ideas are influenced by others. Where would Plato and Aristotle be without Socrates!
4. Have discipline and a routine
Sleeping in until noon rarely sets you up for the day, not getting out of bed usually means you are not enthusiastic about something. At odds with the image of creativity being the sole reserve of gloriously dissolute people, the fact is most of us need structure to be able to work effectively.
You could of course point to the “many” bars made famous by Hemingway’s enthusiastic patronage, or Steve Job’s LSD experimentation college-era as evidence that true creatives can live by different rules, but unfortunately what most people produce after a few drinks is often questionable.
Getting up early, finding a routine and setting yourself deadlines will do wonders for your productivity, and will let you create your best work.
Discipline however doesn’t mean working 9 to 5. There are no set rules for being creative or productive. Balzak used to work during the night having consumed 30 cups of coffee.
Mozart meticulously counted out 60 beans for his morning coffee every day. Hemingway rose at 5:30am before working until his midday Martini and writer Tony Schwartz used to set his timer for 90 minutes, focussing intently for an hour and a half before taking a lengthy break.
There is no “right” way to structure your day, but one common thread is that many of the greatest creative minds had strict daily habits. Find what works best for you and try to stick to it.
Creative thought activates alpha-brain waves that helps trigger an idea with minimal conscious thought. Professor Jonathan Schooler from the University of California has studied brain wave activity during the creative process. He found that doing something different from sitting at a desk allows these unconscious thoughts to take hold.
Both Beethoven and Tchaikovsy firmly believed that taking a two-hour walk every day helped them with their musical composition. Taking a break from distraction and the constant bleeps, bings and boings from our various devices, can allow our brains to relax and innovation to slowly bubble to the surface.
6. Have fun
Despite being romanticised, creative work can sometimes be hard, however when everything falls into place and you make something you are proud of, any slog can seem well worth it.
Keeping your mind on what you love about your job will keep you passionate and motivated. A lot of the time the best work is produced by those simply having fun.
The author is the founding editor at AllTopStartups (tools, resources and ideas for starting and growing a startup).