Research suggests placing self-imposed limitations can boost creativity. 

It forces your brain to come up with creative solutions to finish a project around the parameters you’ve set.

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Problem Solving

Instead of thinking of a cut-and-dry end goal to certain situations, creative people sit back and examine the problem in different ways before beginning to work.

If you find yourself stagnating by focusing on generic problems, try to re-conceptualize the problem by focusing on a more meaningful angle.

For example: Instead of thinking “What would be something cool to paint?” rather ask, “What sort of painting evokes the feeling of loneliness that we all encounter after a break-up?”

Creating “psychological” distance may be useful for breaking through a creative block.

Try to imagine your creative task as being disconnected and distant from your current position/location - this may make the problem more accessible and can encourage higher level thinking.

Daydream, and then get back to work

Daydreaming and incubation are most effective on a project you’ve already invested a lot of creative effort into.

Incorporating breaks into your work-flow can increase your chance to come up with creative solutions to problems.

Embrace something absurd

Research suggests that reading/experiencing something absurd or surreal can help boost pattern recognition and creative thinking.

We are often in two very different states of mind when 

  • absorbing an activity and 
  • when we are trying to create something.

Turn off your “work mode” and consume more inspiration in the form of reading, watching, and observing.

From a new study on creativity in the workplace:

Creativity increased when both positive and negative emotions were running high. Next time you’re in a strong emotional state, try to sit down and focus that energy on creating something.

Get moving

Exercise can actually boost creative thinking due to its ability to get the heart pumping and put people in a positive mood.

If you’re stuck in a creative rut and want to take a break, try including exercise. 

Looking at a situation that has already occurred and asking yourself, “What could have happened?” can boost creativity for short periods of time.

According to an analysis by Jeremy Dean:

  • Analytical problems are best tackled with thinking about what could have been taken away from the situation.
  • Expansive problems benefited most from thinking about what could have been added to the situation.
  • Role mismatch.
  • Too much/too narrow end-goal restriction. 
  • Strict ration of resources, including insufficient time.
  • Lack of group diversity produces less creative results.
  • Discouragement. Too much criticism, endless evaluation and negative comments.
  • No positive feedback. Praise and positive feedback are essential for creative people, who thrive on having their ideas impact the lives of others.

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Examples of Creative Thinking
Generally, anything that involves an “aha” moment is considered creative.
  • Artistic Creativity. You don't have to be an artist for your work to have an artistic element. For example: Composing a new fundraising script for volunteers or devising a lesson plan that will engage students.
  • Creative Problem-Solving. For example: Coming up with new procedures to improve quality or suggesting a way to improve customer service.
  • Creativity in STEM. For example: Constructing a research model to test a hypothesis or devising a computer program to automate a billing process.

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IDEAS

Obstacles to an effective brainstorming:
  • Fear of judgment from people in positions of power;
  • Extroverts take center stage;
  • Groups hate scary ideas, even it they're great ones;
  • You can take advantage of the full experience and creativity of all team members
  • When one member gets stuck with an idea, another member's creativity and experience can take the idea to the next stage. 
  • It helps everyone feel that they've contributed to the solution.
  • Great teambuilding exercise.

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