Grab Some Running Shoes & Mess Up Your Desk! Science Weighs in on What Encourages Creativity
Finding which tools will bolster your creativity is not only important for your work, but to also keep things interesting. Maybe you've had friends, colleagues, even industry professionals share their secrets for maintaining a creative spirit to ensure the influx of ideas, but what about science? What do scientists consider to be major conductors of creativity? Fast Company shares 6 tools that, according to science, may help you live and work more creatively.
A common belief is that creativity is evident when you're coming up with new ideas, however some neuroscientists studying the effects creativity has on the human brain have stated that creativity can be described as making new connections between old ideas. Author James Webb Young touches on this in his book, A Technique for Producing Ideas, when he describes two principles of producing ideas:
- An idea is nothing more or less than a new combination of old elements.
- The capacity to bring old elements into new combinations depends largely on the ability to see relationships.
Having a notebook around allows you to document and catalogue ideas as they flood your brain. However, make sure you're actively collecting the raw material from which to formulate your ideas. You can do this by not just writing down good ideas, but bad ones, too. Write down moments you see. Write down phrases you hear. The more raw material you have, the more opportunities there will be to make the connections needed to create ideas.
A Messy Desk
Oh -- good! I'm sure most of us don't have to change a thing, then. Having a messy desk isn't just an excuse to be a lazy slob (do we really need one, though?), it can actually help create an environment in which creativity can flourish.
A 2013 study published in the Psychological Science journal found that a messy environment increases creative thinking. The study’s “messy room” also made participants more drawn to new things. The same study found that an orderly environment led participants to be drawn to “classic” items and to choose healthier snacks than those in the messy environment.
So, the next time your spouse, roommate, or parent gets all huffy about the clutter around your workspace, just remind them that your stacks of books, open binders, strewn knickknacks, and old fast food wrappers create a place for your creativity to grow (and mold -- you should probably throw away those wrappers).
A Pair of Running Shoes
I mean -- I'm not thrilled to say this, but it's true -- exercise boosts creativity, because it promotes divergent thinking.
Studies have shown that exercise can improve our ability to think creatively. Divergent thinking, in particular--that is, thinking of more possibilities for a certain set of circumstances--was improved by exercise in a study where half the participants exercised before completing a creative-thinking task.
This doesn't mean that you have to go out and run a 10K or join Crossfit to come up with something creative. If you don't like running, ride a bike. If you don't like riding a bike, do some stretches in your living room. If you don't like that -- there's -- walking and general body movement. I've come up with some great ideas walking back home from bars and having 1-person dance parties in my office.
Be sure to check out Fast Company's article to read the full list!
What gets you in a creative state of mind? Do you have any suggestions on how to maintain creativity? Let us know in the comments below!
[Lightbulb image by Flickr user Daniel Tabas]