Stuck in a creative rut?

We all know how it feels to fall deep into a creative rut. You frantically beg yourself for inspiration, but nothing clicks. Cultivating creativity is tough, partially because you rarely even know what you’re searching for. Since creativity takes many different forms, it can be hard to define. Here’s how we see it-

Creativity is making ideas / alternatives / things / links / solutions / services / methods / art / entertainment

that are useful / entertaining /inspiring / helpful / unique / innovative / novel / domain changing / acknowledgable

and require passion / knowledge / expertise / insight / effort / GRIT / action / instantiation

So we get it. Creativity is complex, and it doesn’t make that rut any easier to hop out of! Give yourself a break, and try out these 7 foolproof tips on cultivating creativity.

1. Attend to your basic needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a theory in psychology, proposed by Abraham Maslow. He proposed that each level shown below is based on the innate pattern that human motivation moves through. The bottom of the triangle represents the most fundamental level of needs, and the most complex at the top. Maslow suggests that you must achieve your physiological needs, safety needs, belongingness, and self-esteem fulfillment before your reach self actualization, where creativity takes place.


2. Find your drive

Figure out what motivates you. Try this personality and motivation test to help you decipher this. Cultivate curiosity and interest and chase that spark. Seek and create surprise! Get your heart behind it, and your mind will follow suit.

3. Do more of what you love, and less of what you don’t

Easier said than done, right? There will always be things that are not enjoyable but that you just can’t seem to avoid. Attitude is a choice – you can choose to let those dreadful thoughts infect your mindset, or you can refuse to take part in that tempting negativity train all together. Maybe it’s time you reconsider the task at hand. Take a moment to find the positive in what you’re doing, and try to be thankful for whatever that may be. For some encouragement, read up on how Norwegian’s positive mindsets allow them to endure their harsh winter, here.

4. Create SMART goals, and seek excellence

SMART goals stands for setting specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely goals. Although goals setting is meant to fuel you through challenge, make sure that they are realistic, and defined in detail. If you set a goal that is too general, it is likely it won’t ever get done, and will be near impossible to track your progress. For example, don’t make the goal to exercise more (too general), or to run a marathon this week (unrealistic without training), but rather make the goal to run 3k this week. Be conscious of improvements, and celebrate short term wins!

5. Own your schedule

Plan ahead – stress corrupts creativity. When you have a million things on your agenda, you barely have any time to think. Your creativity channels clog up! You need need to make time to reflect, relax, and give your mind a chance to reset. By approaching your creativity task with a fresh and open mind, you have a better chance of finding your solution.

6. Shape your space with intention

If you are working in the office, allow for collaboration by placing desks in pods. Avoid cubicles, and encourage the freedom of movement.

7. Develop your “lacks”

Is there some skill you have not attained that is holding you back? Make time for personal development. Reach out to your friends, family, and colleagues for help. You can learn so much from the crowd that surrounds you daily! Look into conferences in your industry that would benefit you and your company. Maybe attend a class at a community college. Skillshare is also a great resource that gives you the opportunity to connect with others and learn new tasks daily! Your work will thank you later.

Creativity is complex, everyone struggles with it once in awhile! Unfortunately we don’t have an on/off switch for creativity, but there are ways that we can mentally and physically prepare ourselves for best results. We hope that these 7 tips on cultivating creativity will make your next brainstorming session a little easier.

Ilze Vizulis

About Ilze Vizulis

Ilze is a student at the University of Michigan. She is interested in business and organizational psychology, and continues to build on her own expereinces in the entrepreneurial sphere.

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