How to Ignite Your Creative Spark

Creativity often feels like a fleeting vibe that’s impossible to harness. At times, it can also feel like a trait that is only for a lucky few. However, we all have the ability to create and innovate. Whether you’re trying to come up with ideas for your new marketing campaign or you want to redesign your employee training process, here are a few ways to keep the fresh ideas flowing.

Switch up your daily routine

Creativity doesn’t always come naturally. We have to get that out of our heads. Sometimes we have to actively seek creativity, and hone it in ways that yield results. One way to get the mind churning is to switch up your daily routine. Maybe take a new route to work, or meet up with friends for dinner and drinks. Perhaps go for a walk in a new park, or take up a new hobby. To be creative, we have to get out of our comfort zones and see the world in new ways.

Keep a notepad on you at all times

Humans are thought machines. We’re constantly thinking and processing the world around us. There’s nothing more frustrating than having an idea, and telling yourself that you’re going to come back to this new idea later, only to later forget the idea altogether. To avoid forgetting a new idea or thought, keep a notepad nearby to jot down anything that comes to your mind throughout the day. It doesn’t have to be a complete thought, either. You can jot down a word or a phrase, or even draw a quick sketch of what’s on your mind. That way, when you have some free time later in the day, you can circle back to your idea and flesh it out some more. For those of us who live on our laptops, try downloading a sticky note app to serve as your digital notepad.

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Try design thinking

Design thinking is an approach to practical and creative problem solving. Essentially, it’s a process that forces you to understand a need in order to find solutions to meet that need. Most important, the process is one of trial and error, which helps people shed their fear of failure. It’s important to try different ideas and pathways to get the result you need. If we fear failure from the start, it’s hard to work and produce freely. If you’re interested in learning more, IDEO U offers courses and certificates on design thinking.

Check out what others are saying

There are 40 video playslists on TED.com about creativity. From Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Your elusive creative genius” to David Kelley’s “How to build your creative confidence,” you have a wealth of talks to choose from. But you don’t have to focus on creativity as a topic. Maybe you want to learn more about anthropology or behavioral economics. And, there are always new podcasts hitting your favorite apps. So, scroll through different topics and see what catches your interest. The idea here is to explore and learn something new. It may help you see your work in a new way.

Practice, practice, practice

Creativity isn’t something that you’re born with. In truth, it’s a skill. And it’s a skill that requires lots and lots of practice to get the results and productivity you desire. It’s similar to NBA players — how great would they be if they didn’t pick up a ball and practice three-point shots in between games? As an entrepreneur, treat your creativity as you would any other skill. Set aside time to practice it. Set aside time to play with it. Set aside time to freely think it through, toss around ideas, and try the ones that stick. Set aside the labor to feel failure and bounce back from it. All of this is part of the creative process, no matter the industry.

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