“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” This quote, often falsely attributed to Albert Einstein, is the best way to think about being creative or participating in creative activities. Just because we’re having fun doesn’t mean we aren’t accomplishing something. We need creativity to spark new ideas, enhance memory, empathize with others, and solve complex problems. But how do we spark creativity and find creative energy at work?
In this article, we’ll share six strategies to help you spark creativity and find your flow state at work.
How to Get “Flow” and Find a “Flow State”
Finding your flow state refers to achieving a place of deep focus—times when we’re completely immersed in what we’re doing and impervious to distraction. Time feels as if it’s slowed down since our senses are absolutely attuned to the task at hand. It’s another way of saying you’re in the zone or on a roll.
While it can sometimes be hard to find your flow state, it’s something that everyone can do. Think back on times when you’ve been so hard at work that someone tapping you on the shoulder has startled you. When have you found your flow? Was it during exercise? Gardening? Writing? Painting? At work?
A state of flow is often sparked by creativity—when our mind is engrossed in and energized by whatever it is we’re doing.
How to Find Your Flow and Boost Creative Energy
1. Overcome Your Fear of Failure
Fear of failure is a huge creative block. Fear of failure stops us from putting ourselves out there, trying new things, and expressing new ideas. It keeps us closed off from creativity. In order to find creative energy, you need to be comfortable making mistakes and learning from them.
“Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!” — Miss Frizzle, Magic School Bus
Don’t let fear get in the way of creativity and innovation. You may not think of yourself as a creative person who’s good at drawing, painting, or crafting, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying. You’ll never get better by avoiding it, and perfection isn’t the end game when it comes to creativity.
Get out of your comfort zone and try new things, even if you don’t know what the end result will be. It’s okay to fail, and it’s okay to make a mistake every now and again. It’s the only way you will learn, grow, and adapt in the face of uncertainty.
2. Practice Creative Thinking Activities
Creativity is something you can practice. The creative thinking process can uncover new ideas, solve seemingly unsolvable problems, and spark innovation.
Seek out creative thinking activities that get your mind thinking in new ways. Simple exercises can condition your brain to think outside of the box to look for previously undiscovered solutions.
For example, the “Dictionary Story” has you point to a word in the dictionary at random. You then need to look at the words above and below it and weave the three words together into a story. What ideas are sparked when those three words come together? What connections can you make between them?
The “Complete the Figure ” activity starts you out with a simple and random shape or image. It could be a few disconnected lines, a blob, or anything else that doesn’t represent something yet. It’s up to you to fill in the blanks to complete the figure. You need to think creatively to turn nothing into something.
There are hundreds of creative thinking activities out there. It’s all about forcing your brain to think in new ways to improve your creativity and problem solving abilities.
More Creative Thinking Activities:
3. Make Time for Playful and Creative Activities
Creativity is a huge asset in the workplace, but it’s also fun. It’s perfectly okay to have a little fun while you hone your creative skills. Just because you’re enjoying yourself doesn’t mean it’s any less beneficial. If you want to boost your creativity, find your flow, and discover new ideas, make time for playful activities that force you to be creative.
“Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.” — Pablo Picasso
It doesn’t matter what the activity is so long as you make time for it. Pick a creative activity you enjoy to help you look forward to it. Once it becomes a habit or part of your regular routine, try something a little outside of your comfort zone. Painting, drawing, coloring, crafting, or creative writing are all good places to start. Even a little doodling is known to enhance creativity, concentration, and memory, so don’t be afraid to get playful with your meeting notes.
🖍 Learn more about the benefits of coloring and download our Free Adult Coloring Pages.
4. Make a Habit of Mindfulness
A Huffington Post article on How Mindful Meditation Can Boost Creativity and Innovation shared that “The Walt Disney Company was an early adopter of meditation in the workplace, as they noticed a dramatic increase in creativity after employees meditated on creative solutions.”
In order for mindfulness to be successful, you first have to become comfortable doing nothing, which is easier for some than others. As strange as it may seem, doing nothing takes practice.
You can practice mindfulness by sitting in a quiet space and being fully present within it, making sure to check in with your body and be aware of your surroundings. What are you feeling right at this moment? What can you sense surrounding you? If your mind frequently wanders, try out a few breathing exercises to calm it. Pay attention to what is actually happening around you and what you’re feeling in the moment.
5. Stay Active — Healthy Body, Healthy Mind
Yes, we mean exercise. Sorry.
For one thing, it keeps you healthy, but vigorous exercise also triggers the release of endorphins in your brain. Endorphins are the body’s natural pain killer, and they make us feel happy.😁 If you’re feeling down or your brain feels foggy, go for a jog, hit the gym, or drop and give yourself 20. Your body will naturally reward you with a burst of creativity, energy, and happiness.
If you’re not feeling up to intense physical activity, going for a walk is also extremely beneficial for your body and mind.Walking in nature, in particular, can boost your mental health, lower blood pressure, improve short-term memory and focus, and reduce stress.
“Taking a break can lead to breakthroughs.” ― Russell Eric Dobda
On a busy day, taking a break for physical activity may feel like a waste of time, but this is when it’s most critical to prioritize your health. When you’re at your busiest, you need to make time for breaks. It will help you clear your mind so that you can go back into your work refreshed, refocused, and ready to find your flow.
6. Write Down Your Ideas
You never know when that next great idea will come to you. Creative people make a habit of saving their ideas. Whether it’s a journal, a pocket notebook, or an assortment of napkins, writing down your ideas helps you remember them, and it keeps the ideas flowing.
That means all of your ideas. Don’t wait for a good idea or the perfect solution before you begin to document them. All ideas, even the bad ones, are worth writing down. Bad ideas can ruminate into something great, or it might be the perfect solution to your next problem. If you don’t document it, the idea may be lost forever.
Make a habit of carrying a small journal or notebook with you wherever you go. Keeping a notebook at your desk is good too, but make sure you have something that can travel with you anywhere. You never know what will spark a creative idea. Try a pocket Moleskine or our mini travel journals with dot grid pages, which are perfect for notes, drawings, and doodles.
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