There will be times when your mind simply goes blank—not a creative thought to be found. Even experts lose their creative genius at times. As your age matures, your creativity declines, unless you proactively nurture it and strive to be more creative on a daily basis.
When your creativity seems to utterly disappear, it could be from an accumulation of stress or from being incredibly busy. You may be trying to solve a problem and unable to visualize a good solution. When momentarily stumped, it can be very difficult to pull yourself out and start getting more creative again.
There are many ways you can help yourself to come up with more creative ideas and eventually solve your problem, but sometimes you have to force yourself to discover new and unique ways to get your creativity back. As an entrepreneur, if you hope to become successful in the world of business, there's no other option.
Here are 37 powerful ways for entrepreneurs to be more creative. They won't all work for you, but if you test out some of these tactics, it shouldn't take very long to get your creativity flowing again:
1. Gather New Ideas and Resources
Be on the lookout for new ideas and inspiration within your areas of interest at all times. Read widely. Use the internet as a learning tool. Take an interest in what's going on in the industry around you. Keep a bookmark folder on your browser or in your inbox, containing anything you find interesting that you feel you might refer to again. This is a rainy day fund you can tap whenever you need some creative inspiration.
2. Move On to Another Activity
Often our best ideas come when we don't even realize we're thinking about a problem. If you move on to another activity, your mind will continue to work subconsciously on the problem you left behind. How many times have you frustratingly given up trying to remember something, only for the missing thought to pop back into your head later when you were least expecting it? Embrace this subconscious creative process and let it become become a large part of your workflow.
Brainstorming can be a highly effective way of coming up with new creative ideas. Combine this with a mind map by writing your general problem in the middle of the page. From there, think of some very general areas to focus on, drawing these as offshoots from the central idea. Branch out further from these outshoots and continue breaking down ideas into more digestible bits until you've started to find what you're looking for.
4. Reverse Brainstorm
Reverse brainstorming can help identify possible causes of problems rather than focusing solely on the possible solutions. With this method, you try to brainstorm actual problems, rather than solutions. By coming at problems this way, you might find new approaches to solving problems.
5. Shift Negative Thoughts Into a Positive Mindset
Simply changing your mindset can help you to be more creative. Tell yourself, “I can figure this out” or “I'm open to any ideas that anybody can come up with.” By repeating these positive thoughts, you are far more likely to get a rush of the creative inspiration that will help you solve your problem, and far less likely to throw away possible solutions that come to mind.
6. Think of Good Memories
You don’t need to restrict your positive thinking to just the problem at hand. Thinking back to creative successes and happy moments in the past will make it much easier for you to come up with inspiration.
Some of the benefits of meditation include increased focus, patience, calmness, clarity, insight, and perspective. Improving all of these can greatly increase levels of creativity.
8. Clarify Your Values
We all follow a personal set of values, whether we realize it or not. We build our value system as we age, and this is very much how we look at life and the world around us. Take time to reflect on your values. The act of analyzing your personal value system can help generate creative thoughts.
9. Take a Break From the Mundane
Break your routine for a day. Do things differently. Change the way you go to work. Meet new people. Eat new foods. Do something you’ve never done before. Just be different for a day. The “new you” is likely to come up with new ideas.
10. Avoid Being a Perfectionist
Perfectionists spend so much time focusing on getting the details correct that they rarely take time to think creatively about new solutions outside of their comfort zones. If you are worrying about perfectionism, your brain has little space left for creative thinking. Don’t wait for an idea to form fully before sharing it and working on improving it.
11. Watch a Stimulating Video
TED talks are an obvious place to start, but there also are many videos on YouTube that are sure to get your creative juices flowing. Just avoid allowing yourself to get distracted by videos of cute cats.
12. Read Biographies or Autobiographies of Inspiring, Creative People
Another way to stimulate your brain is to read about other successful and creative people. You can pick up a lot just by reading about what worked for creative minds of the past. How did they solve their creativity problems? Is there anything you can learn from their successes or failures?
13. Determine Your Goals
Think through your long-term targets and break them down into shorter-term action items. This can send your mind into creative mode and make abundantly clear what you should and should not be focusing on.
14. Start a Journal
Writing in a journal can help you unlock some serious creativity. If you give yourself the opportunity to reflect on the day’s progress and write out the problems you're encountering, it's a great way to stumble upon new ideas as they pop into your head.
15. Listen to a Podcast
Tim Ferriss' podcast is particularly great for boosting creativity because he brings on some of the most accomplished, brilliant, and creative minds the world has ever known. For example, give Tim's interview with James Altucher a listen, and you won't regret it.
16. Stimulate Different Areas of Your Brain
If you're struggling to be creative using one area of your brain, try moving to another, even if it's not an area where you're traditionally strong. If you struggle to come up with a solution to your problem in a discussion, try visualizing a solution to your problem―or perhaps you could go through the physical process of constructing a model.
17. Draw a Picture
One particularly good form of inspiration for those who are more visually inclined is to draw a picture. It doesn't matter so much what you begin drawing. It can naturally evolve and take a completely unpredictable path. Go into your drawing session with the acceptance that the end result isn't as important as the process of actually taking time to doodle.
18. Physically Change Your Surroundings
A change of scenery may be all you need to encourage your brain to come up with fresh ideas and get more creative again. Take a day trip to somewhere that can stimulate your senses, venture down to a nearby park, or go for a walk and find somewhere new to do some work without any place in mind beforehand.
19. Surround Yourself By Nature
Many people find that they get a creative jolt simply by being present outdoors. Fresh air, birds chirping, sunshine, and other natural scenes to take in are usually a positive change of pace, especially for a city-dwelling businessperson.
20. Go Green or Blue
It's not always possible to physically go into the countryside, especially if you live in a major city. However, some of the benefits of this can be gained from simply being in a green or blue environment. These colors are thought to help clarity and reduce confusion. If you are after even more creative, original thoughts, surround yourself with vivid colors, such as in a flower garden or an art gallery.
21. Organize and Declutter Your Personal Space
There are entire websites devoted to decluttering your life. Many of the decluttering advocates believe that by decluttering your life, you can declutter your mind.
22. Get Active With Exercise and Movement
Working out stimulates your brain, creating new neurons in the hippocampus region. Physical activity like going for a run, taking a walk around the neighborhood, doing yoga, or even doing some pushups and sit-ups, can stimulate new, creative thought patterns. Many people use their exercise time as a way to disconnect from work and find deeper inspiration.
23. Focus on Breathing Exercises
Breathing exercises may not be as energetic as most other forms of exercise, but they can be just as beneficial to helping you relax. Conscious breathing exercises can help you to recenter and get focused on core priorities when you find yourself straying away.
24. Get a Massage
A massage can help put you in such a calm headspace that you are more likely to find yourself catching onto creative new ideas.
25. Let Yourself Daydream
Don’t feel guilty if you aren't totally focused all the time. Daydreams often result in flashes of peculiar insight. Allow your mind to wander if you feel you really need it. Just make sure that you have a notepad handy to record any creative ideas―regardless of whether or not they're directly related to the problem at hand.
26. Consult Someone You Trust
You don't need to isolate yourself if you're in a creative rut. Some of these activities, like brainstorming, work very effectively if you bounce ideas around with other people, and you're likely to get some of your best creative ideas by getting opinions from those who think differently than you.
27. Call a Friend or Family Member
Sometimes simply talking to a good friend or family member, even if it's completely off topic, can help relieve stress that's blocking you from discovering the solutions you're looking for. This is particularly the case if you haven't spoken with them in a while.
28. Take a (Short) Trip to a Bar
A drink at your local bar can relax you enough to jumpstart your creative thought process again, and people watching while doing so might be even more beneficial.
29. Have Family Time
Spending time with your family is likely to reduce your stress levels, and hopefully, provide you with more energy to put towards your creative thinking.
30. Listen to Stimulating Music
Many studies have shown the deep connections between listening to music and creative thought. Of course, there are many types of music, some more conducive to creative thought than others. Choose something relaxing that can play in the background.
31. Play a Game
There are quite a few games you can play to help develop creative ideas. Develop a game for a meeting where everyone gets to play and has an opportunity to present new ideas. If people find the activity fun, they'll have a real incentive to push themselves to suggest new out-of-the-box suggestions.
32. Go to a Movie
Take a break at the movies, and shut your mind down from work for a few hours. Don’t feel guilty about it. When you return to your work, it's likely to be with a renewed focus.
33. Intentionally Stop During the Middle of a Project
Similar to Ernest Hemingway's approach to warding off writer's block by finishing his writing sessions with stopping mid-sentence, it can be equally powerful to intentionally take a break from projects unfinished. Giving your mind the opportunity to mull over the problem while you're relaxing and doing other activities can have immense benefits.
34. Go to Bed Early
A few extra hours of sleep are likely to refresh you, and you could very well wake up with new ideas tomorrow.
Not every strategy will work for everyone but find the techniques that leave you mentally refreshed. For entrepreneurs, this means new ideas, inspiration, and insight that can revitalize the performance of your business. Don't feel guilty for taking time away from your business in the short term, because the result of properly nursing your creativity will be a much-improved state of mind.