Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Finding Time for Creativity

In this business, it's the truly mind-blowing creativity that wins contracts. How does one find time in a busy schedule to come up with those winning ideas? Here are some basic tips I have found useful.
  1. During sleep. A pencil and paper or notebook available at all times, including bedside, ensures that ideas will not be lost. Indeed, some of the best ideas come during the relaxed state of “near-sleep” and this is precisely when ideas need to be jotted down. If the ideas do start to form freely, one should avoid the temptation to force sleep to return and continue with the process until all possibilities have been exhausted in that particular line of thought. This notebook can also be used as a “dream diary” to record dreams on waking, which in turn can act as catalysts to ideas.
  2. During a favorite relaxing activity. Massage, sauna, shower or bath, meditation, listening to music, and reading are all relaxing activities that tend to free the brain from unwanted clutter and stress. In turn, one is more able to daydream and take ideas to their logical conclusion. Jocelyn Flanagan president of event management company e=mc² in Calgary, Canada, uses music to regenerate senses and emotions in her staff so that visuals associated with the emotions and memories begin to appear.
  3. During a favorite aerobic activity. As long as it is not overly strenuous, this is one of the best ways to get ideas flowing. Not only does aerobic activity increase blood flow to the brain, but it also releases endorphins to aid in relaxation, thereby triggering the condition sometimes called “runner’s high.” This can be a powerful opportunity to generate new ideas and work them through to conclusion. Examples are jogging, walking, swimming, and cycling. Activity should be for a minimum of about 20 minutes or more in order to have enough time to get into a relaxed state and take advantage of it to generate ideas. 
  4. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle. In addition to exercise, creativity specialist Linda Naiman recommends eating well, especially vitamin B, and also getting lots of rest, both of which encourage brain activity (Hall, 2004). 
  5. Having fun. The “work” of creativity goes more smoothly in an atmosphere of lightheartedness. Amabile (1996) found that people in companies were more likely to have a breakthrough if they were happy the day before. Researchers also report that when teams of people are working together on a problem, those groups that laugh most readily and most often are more creative and productive than their more dour and decorous counterparts. Joking around makes good sense; playfulness is itself a creative state (Goleman and Kaufman, 1992).
So get out there and get creative!!


Amabile, T.M. (1996). Creativity in context. Boulder, CO: Westview.
Hall, Neal. (August 24, 2004). The Art of Creativity. The Vancouver Sun, B2.
Goleman, D., and Kaufman, P. (March 1992). The art of creativity. Psychology Today. ID 1903.