17 Tips to Boost Your Creative Thinking Skills

Are you dealing with a bit of a creative block? Here's how to get your juices flowing!

Creative thinking skills

Do you struggle coming up with new and interesting ideas while your competitive coworker is always hitting the nail on the head in the weekly pitches? Do you feel like you’re just not the ‘creative type’?

If you answered ‘yes’ to those questions, don’t give up! Being a creative thinker is a skill that can be taught; you just need to have the will and patience to persevere. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day!

So, if you really want to tap into the right side of your brain and become the master of creativity, follow the tips and techniques listed below to stimulate your imaginative thinking!

1. Read a New Book

Do you always read the same types of books? If so, you need to switch it up a little bit and pick up a book you wouldn’t normally read, like a Sci-Fi novel or an industry-specific guide, for example. Not only does this challenge your brain to do something out of the ordinary, but it also gets your creative juices flowing, too. It even helps you build your vocabulary and increase your knowledgebase which, in turn, will spur on new ideas.

2. Do Things You Wouldn’t Normally Do

Whether it’s watching a film from a genre you aren’t typically interested in or doing an activity that you wouldn’t usually be seen doing, by exploring new experiences you automatically allow yourself the opportunity to learn new skills. For example, let’s say you decide to take a sewing class – the person teaching the class might be a successful entrepreneur, and by talking with them you’ll probably be able to learn new things that can be applied to your line of work.

3. Change Your Eating Habits

Believe it or not, but what you eat can impact your creativity. And there’s been plenty of research to back that claim up. Indeed, eating healthy not only boosts your cognitive abilities but also your physical strength, too – so make sure you’re eating healthy snacks at work!

4. Exercise

Exercise is generally good for everything, from mindfulness to feeling healthy and being more awake, but it’s also good for creativity, too. In fact, Christopher Bergland explains on Psychology Today that ‘exercise allows your conscious mind to access fresh ideas that are buried in the subconscious’. So, get on that treadmill or go for a walk if you’re hitting a bit of a mind blank!

5. Work When You’re Tired

I’m not sure about you, but I’ve never felt imaginative when I’m trying to wake up or feeling on the sleepy side – but a study from researchers at Michigan State University and Albion College suggest that that’s probably the best time to do your innovative thinking. Indeed, ‘the optimal time to complete creative tasks, it turns out, runs opposite of the belief that it’s best to tackle the problem when you’re well rested’.

6. Connect the Dots

You might sit there scratching your head for new ideas, but a great one is already there – you just need to connect the dots on the existing knowledge that you have. As the late Steve Jobs once said: ‘Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something.’

7. Travel More

Travelling can be one of the most inspiring experiences of your life! Indeed, discovering new cultures can spark new ideas and, in turn, increase your creativity without you even knowing. So, if you’re doubting the idea that you should take that much-deserved break, stop!

8. Don’t Stop Daydreaming

Daydreaming all day isn’t going to get you far in the workplace, but a little bit won’t hurt anyone! On the contrary, many studies confirm that daydreaming can improve the creative thought process. Indeed, when your mind wanders off into a daze, it’s easier to develop new and innovative ideas – just make sure you snap out of it and jot down those points!

9. Keep a Messy Desk

Don’t feel guilty next time you’re swimming in a pile of paperwork! In fact, a study published in Psychological Science suggests that a ‘messy desk may confer its own benefits, promoting creative thinking and stimulating new ideas.’

10. Brainstorm with Others

Even great inventors need people around to bounce ideas off them. Take Mark Zuckerberg or Richard Branson, for example: they only hire the best of the best who will help their businesses grow and encourage their creative thought process in developing new and innovative products.

If you want to train your brain to be more inventive, leave an hour free in your schedule to get together with colleagues and have a good brainstorming session. You’ll be surprised how inspired you’ll feel at the end of it!

11. Dim the Lights

New research reveals that dimming the lights can increase creativity levels, make you feel more free and generally make you better at solving creative insight problems, as reported in the Daily Mail. So, next time you’re stuck in a rut, try turning down the lights to a comfortable level and watch all those ideas start generating in your mind.

12. Roleplay

Have you ever noticed that every single training course has some kind of roleplay activity? However cringey these tasks may be, they can be the creativity booster that you need. They’re designed to change the way you think and start exploring situations from other perspectives – this, in turn, will help you develop your cognitive skills.

13. Ask Yourself ‘What If?’

Whatever you’re dealing with, always consider other options or outcomes to your scenario by asking yourself ‘what if’? By looking at a number of different alternatives, you’ll have a better understanding of developing creative solutions to problems.

14. Think Blue

Apparently, blue is the hue for creative thinking, according to a study from the University of British Columbia. In other words, if you work from an office, try surrounding yourself with blue objects. You could even set your screensaver to a photo of the ocean.

15. Work from a Coffee Shop

There’s a good reason why coffee shops like Starbucks are always flooded with freelancers and remote workers. And that’s because the ambience of a coffee shop is said to help you better think outside of the box.

16. Keep a Diary

We’ve all been there: you’re getting into bed when you suddenly think of a really good idea, so good that you’re convinced you’ll still remember it in the morning so you don’t bother writing it down. And – surprise, surprise – when you wake up, you have no idea what that genius idea was. You can avoid this from ever happening again by keeping a diary or even a note section on your phone with all your ideas and you can easily revert back to them when you’re feeling a little less productive.

17. Engage Your Right Brain, Too

There are two sides of the brain: the left being the side that processes logic, and the right side that’s more creative. Many of us use our left side a lot more by processing information, thinking and analysing situations, but it’s important to use both simultaneously. A few exercises like drawing a mind-map or making 3D drawings can get your started.

Developing creative thinking skills isn’t all that difficult, and by putting the tips above to practice, you’ll get the ball rolling and you’ll be on the path to success in no time.

What do you do to improve your creative thinking skills? Join in on the conversation below and let us know!