How to be more creative


There is a myth that left handed writers have more creative bones in their body than their right handed counterparts. Apparently, left handers are more suited to the arts subjects including history, english and anything practical. Right handers are the scientific, mathematic kinds and our brains are wired differently. We are supposedly predisposed to 30% of our creativity by our parents.

However, research has shown that creativity comes from people’s experience, training they have undertaken, and the environment in which they’re working. Creativity is incredibly important to most aspects of life, from hobbies to the workplace. So to make this new year a more productive and successful one, focus on improving your creativity. 

Here are some practical steps to instantly improve creative thinking ability in the workplace and your personal life. 

1. Stop asking others what they want

Many organisations fall into the trap of asking customers what they want, or what is important to them. Customers’ ideas can be unreliable. People are not very good at predicting what they might want or need in the future. As Henry Ford is reputed to have said, ”If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”.

Instead, focus your efforts on clearly understanding what frustrates your customers. By understanding the problems that your customers have, you can then focus your innovation efforts on finding creative ways to solve those problems.

2. Set a clear challenge

Starting with a blank canvas and letting your mind wander wherever it needs to is all considered conducive to creativity. However, the latest psychological research has shown the complete opposite – creativity loves constraints.

In one study, a group of adults was asked to make a construction using LEGO. One group was given no constraints; they were told they could build whatever they liked. The other group had several constraints placed upon them; they were told their construction must contain no right-angled joints and they could only use one kind of brick.

The constructions built by the ”constraints” group were judged to be significantly more creative and lateral than those in the ”free expression” group. So the next time you want to exercise your creative muscle, make sure you have a clear challenge to focus on, thus setting yourself a clear constraint.

3. Raise your eyebrows

Sometimes the simplest of things can have enormous impact, which is definitely the case when it comes to our ability to generate ideas. Researchers at the University of Maryland theorised that facial expressions associated with widening and narrowing our visual perception might increase creativity.

They thought that broadening your visual field, such as raising your eyebrows, could increase performance on a creative thinking task. Likewise, they hypothesised that furrowing your brows, which narrowed your attention field, would have the opposite effect.

Participants in the study were asked to hold one of these expressions for two minutes, while completing a creative thinking task. The eyebrow-raising group generated significantly more original ideas and a greater quantity of ideas.

4. Wait until the morning before making decisions

Ultimately, the success of our creative thought rests on whether we make good decisions. Research suggests that we make far better decisions in the morning, when we have strong cognitive resources available to us. Make big decisions at the start of the day when your brain is in full form. 

Most importantly, don’t ever underestimate your creativity. 

Scarlett is a recent journalism graduate interested in writing, human resource management and workplace culture. When she isn't being a nerd, she enjoys singing, reading and seeing friends.