Have you ever thought about why some of your best ideas seem to happen in the most random places such as on the toilet, a red light, or while doing something totally crazy?
Leo Widrich, co-founder of Buffer suggested that our brains give us our best and creative ideas when:
- A lot of dopamine is released in our brains. Triggers like exercising, listening to music, and, yes, taking a warm shower, contribute to increased dopamine flow.
- We’re relaxed. When we have a relaxed state of mind, we’re more likely to turn attention inwards, able to make insightful connections.
- We’re distracted. Distraction gives our brains a break so our subconscious can work on a problem more creatively.
So dopamine is the answer!
In this quick blog post, I will share 7 ways you can boost your creativity.
Take a shower
Taking a shower is a monotasking activity. Mark Fenske, a neuroscience professor and coauthor of The Winner’s Brain says taking a shower
does not take a lot of cognitive focus. As a result, other parts of the brain can start to contribute. When your mind wanders, it’s more likely to free associate and come up with novel ideas or connections. The shower is also the perfect environment because it’s warm and relaxing–factors that can make your brain release creativity-boosting, feel-good dopamine.
So run up your water and gas bill and take more or longer showers and perhaps invest in Aqua Notes waterproof notepads you can mount in your shower so your ideas don’t get washed away.
Get get your schedule right
See you have to know when you are most optimal. A theory published in 2010 in the journal Thinking Skills and Creativity links time management and creativity together as being mutually beneficial to each other. Basically, if you’re good at managing your time and creating to-do lists, there’s a positive correlation to your creative time. The implication is that you can schedule for and decide to be creative, which is exactly what we’ll be looking how to do.
Just pretend and play
Learn how to do something new such as learn a new dance, how to race a car, double dutch (jump rope), or shoot basketball! Do not stop there! Imagine yourself 4 years from now. Write down what you are wearing, who you are with, what foods you are eating, or how your house looks. Then I want you to write the story of how you got there asking yourself questions such as, “What was the first barrier or obstacle you faced and how did you get through it?
Go for a walk
Jill Scott told you what to do in her hit song, “A Long Walk.” Listen to her!
She share the benefits of going for a walk.
“Let’s take a long walk around the park after dark (Okay you can during the daytime)
Find a spot for us to spark
Conversation, verbal elation, stimulation”
Stanford researchers conducted a study in 2015 with two groups. Both groups were given standard creativity tests. Then had one group to walk on the treadmill and one group walked outdoors. Both groups had to take the test again. After walking on the treadmill, 81 percent of the volunteers scored higher on tests of divergent thinking. Research showed that the outdoor group had higher test scores.
It also revealed:
“Walking opens up the free flow of ideas, and it is a simple and robust solution to the goals of increasing creativity and increasing physical activity.”
Perhaps it’s the extra blood flow to the brain that helps boost creativity, or simply changing your environment and letting your mind wander that does the trick. Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, a Greek and Latin scholar was ahead of his time when he wrote, “All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”
Ask the right question
Growing up I always heard that there is no such thing as a stupid question. I agree with that old adage. However, asking the right question is the most important. There are so many responses you could get from asking the right question. According to Keith Sawyer, research psychologist and author of “Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity” shared how Instagram and Starbucks got on the path of creativity because the founders stopped trying to solve their initial questions that they thought to answer. For example, Howard Shultz, stopped looking at what was jacked up in the coffee/espresso businesses and started focusing on the innovative idea of “How can I create a comfortable, relaxing environment to enjoy great coffee?” Instagram founder, Kevin Systrom originally thought about creating a location sharing app and for a while the only person that was on it was his mom. Then he changed his questioning/thinking and asked “How can we create a simple photo-sharing app?” See just a simple shift in your question could make a difference. For example, without much thought, take a question and write 7 variations of the same question. For example, “ How could I build a better social media business for companies,” you might ask questions such as “How can I make my social media business more attractive to companies?” and “What does a business want?”
Keep a notebook with you
I know it is not easy to keep a notepad with you at all times. Just think if multi-mogul Richard Branson forgets his ideas as quickly as they enter his brain how can we expect to be any different than him? I have post it notes and paper journals everywhere. Although it does not seem that important at the time is absolutely crucial. Drew Hansen says,
“Don’t judge [your ideas] at this stage, either. There’s a reason they occurred to you this way.”
Go to sleep
Lastly, stop trying to build Rome in one day. It is okay to leave something undone. If at the end of the day you can leave a task slightly unfinished. Let me tell you why: it may be easier to start on the next day. It is because cognitive threads are left hanging in your brain and as you get rest your subconscious might hook onto them and give you a sudden insight. A tired mind is not productive! Plus a study published in the journal Nature suggests we’re more likely to come up with creative solutions to big problems when we sleep on them and look at the information again first thing in the morning.