10 Surprising Ways to Transform Your Creative Thinking

Posted on: May 30th, 2014 by bobmorris

Cooper, BB Here is an article written by Belle Beth Cooper for Fast Company magazine in which she suggests several ways to transform creative thinking. Some of them may surprise you. To read the complete article, check out others, and obtain subscription information, please click here.

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We’ve written about creativity a few times on the Buffer blog, but it’s hard to keep track of everything we learn about it. One day I’m adjusting the temperature in my workspace, and the next I’m trying to put off creative work until I’m tired.

If you’re in the same boat, and you find it’s difficult to remember what will improve your creativity and when you should do your most creative work, hopefully this list will help you get it all straight.

[Here are the first three.]

1. Your brain does better creative work when you’re tired

Unlike solving an analytic problem, creative insights come from letting our minds wander along tangents and into seemingly unrelated areas. Though many of us identify as morning larks or night owls, peaking in our problem-solving skills and focus at particular times of the day, creative thinking actually works better at non-optimal times. So, if you’re a morning lark, your brain will be better at finding creative insights at night, when you’re tired.

The reason behind this is that a tired brain struggles to filter out distractions and focus on one thing. It’s also more likely to wander off on tangents. While that seems like a bad thing when you’re working, creative thinking actually benefits from distractions and random thoughts. Research has shown that we’re better at “thinking outside the box” at our non-optimal times.

2. Exercise can improve your creativity

We know exercise is good for us for lots of reasons, but here’s one more. Studies have shown that exercise can improve our ability to think creatively. When researchers had half the participants in a study perform an exercise video while the other half simply watched a video, those who had exercised outperformed the others in terms of divergent thinking–or, coming up with more possible solutions to a problem.

I love the way it’s explained in this Psychology Today article:

“Sweat is like WD-40 for your mind–it lubricates the rusty hinges of your brain and makes your thinking more fluid. Exercise allows your conscious mind to access fresh ideas that are buried in the subconscious.”

3. Ambient noise levels are best for creativity

I actually thought silence might turn out to be the best sound for creative thinking, but it turns out that ambient noise levels are just right. Unlike loud music or silence, ambient noise levels have proven to be perfect for improving creative thinking.

Silence, in fact, actually helps us to sharpen our focus, so it’s useful for intense problem-solving or detail-oriented tasks. Creative thinking, on the other hand, requires the kind of ambient buzz of sound that you might find in a café to promote broader thinking and new ideas.

So much so that tools like Coffitivity exist to bring that ambient café sound to your desk.

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Here’s a direct link to the complete article.

To learn more about Belle Beth Cooper and her work, please click here.

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