How often do you feel demotivated, as if your imagination has run dry and that you are lacking creativity? Here are ten simple and effective ways to help you pull yourself out of the creative doldrums and fuel your life with inspiration:
1- Go on a Photo Safari
Such an exercise is easy to do and takes about 15 minutes of your time. Take your camera (this can be your phone as well), go out and start observing the world from a different perspective. Go macro, see all hidden beauties, interesting details that you’ve never paid attention to before or try new methods, angles, filters with your camera and most importantly - enjoy it. This helps you realise the wealth of inspiration available around you. All you need is to adjust the way you see things. You can even pretend that you are the photographer of Vogue, the National Geographic or the Guardian-- just have fun while doing it!
2- Put on your Apron and Chef's Hat
Personally, I love cooking. It is so relaxing and the process itself can help clear your mind. It is a highly stimulating activity guaranteed to satisfy all of your five senses. The visual joy of colourful ingredients, the smell of freshness, rhapsody of textures, sound of the knife while cutting, and of course, the great taste of the dish you have just prepared (assuming you are not a terrible cook). Go online and try new recipes, or call your grandmother and ask for your favourite family recipe, experience with new ingredients, or create your own combination, mix it up and enjoy. After all, nothing is absolutely wrong or right in the kitchen, it is all a matter of taste. So roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty.
3- Be Armed and Ready: Canvas Set and Paint Brush in Hand
Whether or not your are talented is not an issue here. In this relaxing and inspiring exercise all you need to do is take a small piece of paper and start doodling. It does not have to be perfect or meaningful. Just let your hand flow on the paper to express your inner thoughts. Get in touch with your inner child, take out those crayons and draw non-stop for ten minutes. This activity helps to focus your mind on the present moment and allows you to forget about your daily life's worries, planning, and negativity-- which often hinders creativity. Take a break from stress and allow yourself to relax.
4- Learn the Art of People Watching
Trust us, this is not as creepy as it sounds... (and no this should not get you in any trouble with the police). All you need to do is go somewhere crowded, but not too overwhelming, like a park, a train station or even a high street bustling with tourists and shopaholics. Sit on a bench and just look at people around you for 15-30 minutes. You will be amazed at what you see and the different real-life scenarios that will take place in front of your eyes. Such an exercise will help you forget about yourself, and your own problems and focus on others. Each person you will see passing by will be like an unknown story waiting to unveil itself to you. Public areas are the best trigger for innovation because they allow you to observe a variety of people in different situations, which gives you insights into their daily habits. Such a fact is highly important because often the creative solutions you design aim to solve an everyday problem that regular people suffer from.
5- It Is O.K. to Talk to Strangers
(It Is O.K. to talk to strangers.. at your age, your parents will understand). In an increasingly digital world, maintaining and reinforcing face-to-face human connections is of utmost importance. In a recent study by Elizabeth Dunn, a professor at the University of British Columbia, and Michael Norton, a professor at Harvard Business School, conducted to test the effect of efficiency, a group of people were asked on their way into a busy Starbucks to “have a genuine interaction with the cashier” by smiling and holding a brief conversation. While another group were asked to be as efficient as possible: Get in, get their order, get out, and go on with their day. As a result, the study showed that those who lingered longer and conducted a conversation with the cashier left Starbucks feeling more cheerful. Therefore, while efficiency is needed at times, it should not be abused and overused. In this exercise, try to be as friendly as possible to strangers you pass by on a daily basis. Don't be afraid to say: "good morning, thank you, sorry, excuse me etc.. ". Gather your courage and say hi to the person standing next to you in the queue at your favourite coffee shop or the person sitting next to you on the tube, you never know who will be your next source inspiration.
6- Go Green
We know that life in the big city is hard and often drains you from your energy with its traffic jam, dirty air, noise pollution, and rush hours. Hence, similarly to your favourite high-tech gadget, you too need to recharge your energy every now then. Leave all your electronic equipments behind you (Don't freak out, you can do it... yes, put that mobile aside now), go out and find somewhere green. It does not matter if it is your own backyard, a quiet corner in the nearby park, or the beach. Just get out and get in touch with nature. Clear your mind and smell the fresh air. Allow your eyes to rest and gaze at the beautiful sight of greenery in front of you. Listen to the sound of nature, walk on the beach, feel the sand under your feet and leave your negative thoughts behind.
7- Write It Down
When you have a new task at hand, you often feel like an arsenal of new ideas are zig-zagging in your head and that your brain is about to explode. On those days, you barely sleep, eat or concentrate on the other tasks you have at hand-- which can damage your career and by consequence, your personal life. The answer to your problem here is to grab your notebook (or iPad) and start writing down those ideas. From the most frivolous to the most outstanding. You never know, which one will be your next big thing. In doing so, you will release all that creative tension from your head and feel more comfortable that they are all jotted down in a secure place. The more thoughts and ideas you gather, the more easily and naturally solutions will flow to your mind.
8- Walk Aimlessly
Have you ever noticed how easily it is to get lost in a big city. Actually, wandering around with no sense of direction is a habit I have recently developed and which helps me relax and release all my negative tension. In this exercise, you need to listen to the rhythm of your footsteps on the ground and the cadence of your breath. Feel the wind on your face and the sun’s warmth on your skin. Appreciate every step with all your senses. See, hear, absorb everything around you. Walk freely, wherever you wish to. Let the inspiration and ideas come to you. Walking alone gives us the chance to instigate new ideas, explore concepts, and test the validity of some of our ideas in private without the pressure of "being wrong".
9- Try Something New
If you are not feeling stimulated enough, it is probably a good time for you to try something new or go somewhere you have never been before. It does not have to be the other side of the world. Just break the boundaries and go to a new town you have not visited before, try a new restaurant, go to a museum, see an exhibition, a concert, learn a new language, challenge yourself with a new sport, or buy a pet. These new activities will make your day much more interesting, expand your horizons, and provide you with a new source of inspiration. Remember, even small changes in your daily life routine will give you confidence and a fresh perspective on life.
10- Make your "Break" an Enjoyable One:
Often our break time is as lousy and as boring as the rest of our day, which is a gigantic mistake. Below are 3 ways to ensure your break time is creatively stimulating:
- You can create a list of writing or drawing topics that you would like to work on on small pieces of paper and put them in a jar/box on your desk to choose from on your next ten-minute break.
- Go to your bookshelf and choose a random book as quickly as possible, then open a random page and point your finger in the centre of it. Write down the first 3 words you see. Do the same for two other books, then with the words you have, allow your mind to start constructing new ideas, titles, and concepts.
- Try reading a new magazine or blog post on a topic you know nothing about or search for the meaning of random words online. Reading about new interests and subjects will increase your knowledge and provide you with a new perspective. The sky is the limit, you never know what you might come across (Just keep it PG13 if you are in an office or public space).
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