HOW TO BE MORE CREATIVE

the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations. Here you'll find real evidence-based tips and tricks to increase your creativity. Some of it supports common wisdom, some goes against it.
Benefit counter: 30 (as of 07/08/2018)

 Embrace your inner psychopath +2

A 2012 study shows that emotional distance from your object of focus allows you to think more creatively. Hence embrace your inner psychopath. What would you do that is unconventional if you weren't inhibited by the status quo? 

Another 2016 study tells us that traits related to psychopathy, specifically Boldness, correlate with creative achievement. Cultivate that devil my care attitude!

psycho

Sketches commissioned from Terra Simone

 Go Low-Tech? +1

Smartphones may drain your cognitive capacity. If you have a tendency to constantly interrupt your work to check your phone you might be one of those people.

Research shows that the more dependent you are on your phone the less cognitive capacity you have while it is physically near you. ​​Consumer research scientists suggest that you keep your phone away in another room when it's time to focus on things that matter.

remove your smartphone

 Keep calm and meditate +5

It is known that as we age our mental faculties start to suffer. Some scientists now believe that long-term meditation practitioners lose less brain grey- and white matter. John Hopkins researchers have identified 47 studies about meditation, out of the hundreds that have been conducted since the 1950s, that qualify as well-designed and therefore reliable. Based on these studies, they concluded that there is moderate evidence that meditation reduces anxiety, depression and pain. Much like exercise, you're better with it than without it. In fact meditation seems to help adherence with exercise.

meditation for artists

Interesting sidenote: Meditation and drawing both seem to develop the ability artists refer to as "seeing things as they really are". Shapes instead of symbols. 

 Master your sleep +1

Although the sample pool is small, a study shows that 79% of interior design students don't engage in a good sleep routine. As we know from personal experience and studies, there is cognitive ability decline after a lack of quality sleep.  For those art students out there who work at the last minute into the night you might want to reconsider your work ethic and remember:

"Importantly, students who maintained short sleep durations, highly variable night-to-night sleep durations, or had fragmented sleep (i.e., waking after sleep onset) demonstrated pre- to poststudy declines on the laboratory measure of creativity (remote associates task)."

sleep for productivity

 Keep a straight posture +3

Four studies were conducted in a laboratory setting to examine whether variations in physical posture can have a regulatory or feedback role affecting motivation and emotion. It is suggested that physical postures of the body are one of several types of cues that can affect emotional experience and behavior. If you are hunched over you're more likely to feel stressed and helpless than with a straight back. A good posture also makes you more attractive, which is shown to help with sales, and an expanding posture increases your creativity

"The scores that were obtained in the creative tasks were significantly higher for those participants who performed the tasks in the open posture rather than in the closed posture."


straight posture

 Optimize your environment +2

The comforts or discomforts of our environment shape the actions we take. If you shape your environment to prevent procrastinating and build an environment conducive to your craft you're much more likely to persist in your craft consistently. Have your supplies ready or eliminate distractions like Facebook or Reddit or both.

Multitasking kills productivity

In a 2014 study they found: 

“Using laptops, phones and other media devices at the same time could be shrinking important structures in our brains, a new study may indicate. For the first time, neuroscientists have found that people who use multiple devices simultaneously have lower gray-matter density in an area of the brain associated with cognitive and emotional control.”

optimize space

 Seek out foreign cultures to enhance creativity +2

A 2008 study found that extended stays in foreign cultures  seem to enhance peoples creativity. For more info you could also check out Big Think's article on it.  The other cheaper method is to simply try to disconnect from the problem you're having. Try to be a neutral third party who does not care about the outcome. Because research shows cognitive distance allows people to think more creatively about their problems than if the problems was close by and personal. This tip is similar to the "embrace your psychopathy" advise. 

travel

 Utilize fear +4

Accountability increases productivity

We behave better when we think we're being watched. Scientists from Newcastle University discovered that the mere presence of an image of eyes makes us mindful of our reputation. Alternatively Dr. John Norcross a clinical psychologist who studies new years resolutions suggests that we get an accountability partner who keeps us on our toes.

The fear of loss is bigger than the desire for gain

Loss aversion implies that one who loses $100 will lose more satisfaction than another person will gain satisfaction from a $100 windfall. Give your friend an envelope with money ( or some embarrassing photo of yourself) and give him or her instructions to send it to a place you don't want either to go should you fail to lose weight or draw a portrait every day.

fear

 Track your food and exercise for less brain fog +2

There is evidence that after a solid 30 minutes of jogging you experience up to 2 hours of increased cognitive ability. To those of you out of shape there are also studies that show merely walking for a 13 minutes helps. There are also long term benefits from sustained physical exercise, that I won't list here.

Additionally every coffee drinker knows how they can't operate without their morning cup of coffee. Less obvious would be the effects of excessive macro nutrients like protein and sugar on our brains. If you knew you operated 20% less efficiently would you not make these changes? We also know according to the CDC that only roughly 20% of the US population exercises. Are you in the 80% who doesn't?

meal plan

 Think counter-stereotypically  +1

Now this will only help if you're guilty of believing in stereotypes but research shows that if you engage in an activity to think counter-stereotypically such as a female mechanic or a black president you're more likely to engage in divergent thinking. On top of being a nicer person to be around. I think we all could use some counter-stereotypical thinking regardless of how progressive we might be.  What about male nurses or  female firemen?

counter-stereotypical

 Use CAD  +2

The reasoning seems simple. Because digitally we can easily erase our mistakes we're more likely to experiment. It's also a double edged sword because drawing carelessly might teach us to never to master our fine motor skills which is inescapable if you create classically on paper. Fair warning though, it's just a suggested link between emergence of creativity and CAD. Don't go around preaching and starting a church of CAD. Additionally you can learn new fine motor skills faster if you spend 30 minutes every day before going to bed.

CAD

 Create every day +2 (Common sense)

You have probably noticed how every artist, teacher, guru tells you to practice, create and make every day? Well turns out.. they are empirically right! Shocker, I know. A neuropsychology study shows that brain structure changes related to everyday creative activity are linked with creative achievement. Also good old persistence is shown to correlate with creative achievements. Simply suffer through failure.

create every day

 Prime creativity to increase creative performance +1
 (Opposite of common sense)

"Attempts at idea generation often produce outputs that are marked by restricted creativity. This lack of originality is often due to responses being tethered to recently activated knowledge and salient examples."

True creativity then is being able to create connections between 2 completely different subjects. This state of mind is harder to achieve intentionally but not impossible. This study shows it's possible to undermine the basic approach to creativity that most people take.

prime creativity

 When in doubt Improvise +1

Improvisation is the act of creating something new on the spur of the moment. And the theory is that creative stagnation is the result of a set pattern of thinking. So this study hints that you can increase your creativity by just letting go and trying something spontaneous. It's also similar to the mindset that we suggested concerning psychopathy and spatial distance.

improvise

Benefit counter: 27

References

                                                                                                   Good job, you're ahead of the curve now. 

What tips do you have?


About the author

John Thatch

John Thatcher is a computer science educated artist. He uses technology to solve artist problems. His friends don't like it when he speaks of himself in the third person. But John does it anyway, because he's a rebel.

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