So you're in a meeting, and the boss says "We need a creative idea on this one."
Silence ensues. He/she continues, "Something that's really going to propel us into the stratosphere."
You all follow his/her gaze to the ceiling. Someone coughs. You look down. You can feel the tension in the room. Ideas don't grow on trees you think to yourself.
For most of us, idea-conjuring takes time, not pressure. It requires contemplation, inspiration, percolation and finally, creation.
Most importantly? Location.
Creativity comes usually when you're not being deliberate about it at all. In other words, when you're doing something completely unrelated. That often means physically placing yourself somewhere else.
Need a little shot of inspiration? Here are my top 10 recommended locations to
1. In the shower
There is great liberty that comes with being in your birthday suit under warm, soothing water. The mind relaxes and wanders. Organized thoughts give way to more relaxed non-linear thoughts. And on that journey, your brain sometimes circles back to the creative problem at hand, with a creative solution arriving out of nowhere. Quick! Grab a towel and jot it down!
2. On the move
There's nothing like physical movement to clear a mental block or inspire a new train of thought. It could be as simple as a walk around the block or a workout at the gym. Could be a hike in the woods or a marathon ... Start moving and watch the ideas flow from toe to head.
3. In bed
A relaxed mind in REM mode creates ideal conditions for subconscious exploration of uncharted territory. Maybe even before that, as you begin to drift off, your brain may land you directly on the creative solution you've been seeking. Keep something close at hand to write ideas down when you wake up. Hopefully it will be legible later.
4. In listening mode
Crank up an upbeat tune, sing your heart out, or sit with the calming influence of a classical medley. Maybe even pull out your guitar or find a piano to plunk away on. When music stimulates your mind, so does it shift your mood, boost your serotonin and dopamine, relaxing you and making you happy. A happy relaxed mind is prime territory for creative thinking.
5. In the car
When you take the vehicle for a spin, you're opening all sorts of possibilities for original thought. Travel a road you never have to see new sights and let your imagination cruise alongside. Even the physical act of driving itself employs many parts of your brain as you multitask to keep the car going where you want it to go. With the rational parts of your brain chugging full speed, they're too busy to interfere or second-guess your creative whisperings.
6. At a coffee shop
Just about every kind of thinking is better when it's done from a window seat in a busy coffee shop or from a bench in a busy park. People are fascinating, surprising and even jaw-dropping shocking. Let their self-expressions twist around in your brain, while all the colours, sights and sounds put you in a new realm, ripe for original thought. And dig that java aroma while you're at it.
7. Beside water
Ocean, river, lake, stream, waterfall... any encounter with bodies of water are a fantastic avenue to calm the busy mind and create space for creativity. If you've ever spent time on the beach or sitting by a lake just watching and listening to lapping waves, you'll know how freely the mind begins to flow. A gurgling stream or the rush of fast-moving water over rocks can be mesmerizing. That state opens the floodgates for inspiration.
8. In the garden
Gardening is one of the most popular activities in North America. It requires movement and is considered a form of exercise. Not to mention the hands-on interaction and surroundings of nature. The motion of gardening helps release endorphins, the hormone that helps you feel satisfied and relaxed. If it's sunny out, all the better. Your happy state will allow the creativity to flourish.
9. At art galleries, bookstores and museums
What better way to inspire creative brainwaves than surrounding yourself with a multitude of other creative productions? The colours and shapes, ideas and topics, interpretations and unorthdox approaches you'll witness are bound to move your thoughts into new directions of artistic expression.
10. Far, far away from a screen
Sure you will find ideas online and there are websites galore to indulge the artist, writer or other creative types. But screen time is not ideal for keeping the mind fresh. You're sitting in one place. You're thinking in a straight line. Navigating search results and websites is a linear process, engaging the left side of the brain to a great extent. What you require is wide open spaces, real life, tangible and accessible. So keep the screens at home. Forget virtual. Go natural.
Christine Thompson is a freelance writer who works from home, coffee shops, her backyard, in different countries, and really - from anywhere her head goes. www.jellybeancommunications.com