How can I boost my creativity?

Most businesses begin with great ideas. However, to continue growing they depend on continuous creativity, which is essential to identify and seize opportunities, and overcome challenges. But what happens when your creativity wanes? Here are some tips to help lift your imagination and inventiveness.

1. Remain calm and separate research from creativity
Don’t panic if you cannot come up with ideas or solutions immediately. Creativity can be learned and triggered. If you become too anxious and try to force ideas, the process can take longer. Moreover, studies say creativity is stifled when we multitask. Avoid gathering information and inventing simultaneously. Read, observe and mark key insights for later reference.

Attend webinars, conferences, workshops or dialogues that cover relevant topics. Cruise Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see trends, news updates and who is doing what. It is unbelievable how inspiring social media can be if you follow the right people. Look outwards instead of inwards. The extent of your creativity when you return to the task at hand, will surprise you,” says Taryn Gill, founder and owner of The Perfect Hair in Johannesburg.

2. Stay positive and energetic
Researchers say we are at our most creative when we feel positive. “Staying positive” is not as clichéd as it might sound. We all have our own choice of mood enhancer, which usually also elevates energy levels. If you are tired and listless, your mood is likely to be low. Do what it takes to boost your attitude and energy levels; exercise (movement improves creative thinking), listen to music, take a nap, or connect with inspiring people.

Engage in activities you enjoy. Reading, travelling, sleeping (a lot), and taking long, solitary walks work for me. I also watch and study what others have done, often via YouTube. It is not only about being positive; I also feel inspired and creative if I regularly disengage from work and exercise my mind, body and soul doing other things,” says Ayeni Adekunle Samuel, founder and CEO of Nigerian public relations company Black House Media.

3. Assume a different position and ask new questions
Instead of racking your brain for a solution to a problem or a new idea, imagine you are the client or another stakeholder in your business. What would you want? What are your challenges? By changing your perspective and asking new questions, you will see things differently.

Innovation is often the result of asking questions nobody else thinks are important. Sometimes problems exist because people ask the wrong questions. They get bogged down and the old questions that drove them from day one still drive them. Looking for new questions is a good source of creativity,” says Bright Simons, founder of mPedigree in Ghana.

4. Don’t be afraid of daydreams and fanciful ideas, but make them a reality
Daydreaming is useful because it allows you to incubate ideas. Some of the world’s best inventions began as over-the-top ideas produced by daydreamers. Concepts that began as fantastic, unrealistic illusions of imagination were eventually pared down and made real. Remember though, success depends on action ­– not just dreams.

Creativity requires action. Don’t be afraid of action. Quick, small failures are often the best teachers. Learn from your failures and treat them as teaching gifts rather than allowing them to defeat you,” explains Dr Lee Kingma, business coach and human resource manager at Cape Town-based Juta & Co.

5. Tap into intellectual diversity
Creativity is inspired by discussions with different people, strangers even, whose ideas are unlike yours. Do not always look for inspiration in the same circles. Creativity thrives where thinking is diverse and compels you to see things differently.

I volunteer and work with non-profit organisations as often as time allows. This means I am regularly surrounded by people I would not usually meet and have discussions I would not usually have. When I feel particularly blocked creatively, I ask what my five-year-old self would do. Looking at things through a child’s eyes can be very inspiring,” says Chantal Louw, entrepreneur and owner of online art and craft boutique, KIN.