It sometimes amazes me that there are people out there that think creativity is only important to people like musicians, artists and photographer types. But you and I know thats not the case at all! Creativity is essential to all of us and isn’t reserved for those “in the industry”. Creative thinking allows us to find solutions to common, and not so common, problems. Looking to increase your creativity? Its kind of like any other muscle! With practice, consistency and a little planning, you can boost your creativity and brainstorming skills!
What do you think of when you think of brainstorming? Likely, the first thing that came to mind didn’t relly have anything to do with boosting your creativity. Usually brainstorming is associated with business related things. Remember those terrible meetings where everyone shouts out ideas and someone jots them down on a whiteboard only to erase them later for being unusable? Brainstorming doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, it can be a fun and productive way to work on developing your creative side.
Those awful meetings did get one thing right: the first thing you need to do is let go of the self-criticism and self-judgment. Whether that be about creativity (I don’t have a creative bone in my body) or brainstorming (I don’t know how to brainstorm) or both, you have got to let it go or you’re not going to have an open mind to be able to think clearly. Get rid of those preconceived notions! Once you’ve done that you can move into the brainstorming phase.
For your actual brainstorming session, grab a piece of paper and pen and get ready to draw it out. Something like a simple mind map will work. That might mean drawing a big circle in the middle of the page and then connecting smaller circles to that. The big circle is going to be the main focus point (for example a problem you currently have) and then all the little circles connected to that one are going to be the different ideas/solutions as to how to work that problem out. But there is definitely no right or wrong way to mind map!
Mind mapping not working to boost your creativity? Try just making a big list of ideas. Some people call this a “brain dump” and it works exactly the same way as a mind map. The idea is to get as many ideas out of your head and on to the paper as possible. Don’t think about whether a specific solution will work, just write it down. You’ll go back later and refine them. This is the method I use most often! There is nothing like a good brain dump to boost your creativity, at least in my books!
There lots of different ways to mix things up! One fun thing to experiment with is using a timer. Set your kitchen timer for 5 minutes and aim to get as many thoughts and ideas down on paper as possible. This race against the clock can help you stop criticizing and instead focus on quantity, which isn’t something we do naturally.
The main thing you want to keep pin mind is that you shouldn’t be spending a lot of time on this process. Brainstorming is something that you want to do it fairly quickly. Generate as many different ideas (solutions) as you can in a short span of time. Once you’ve done the brainstorming picture (mind map, brain dump – whatever you choose to call it), then you can narrow down all those different solutions you listed until you get down to the top two or three that you think will work best.
As you begin to practice brainstorming, you’ll find that it gets easier and easier for you to boost your creativity! That’s the goal! So, set aside some time (it doesn’t have to be a large chunk of time, even 10-15 minutes) each day to brainstorm and it will help you develop more of your creativity.