5 Awesome Ways to Improve Your
Creativity and Brainpower
It's an unfortunate fact that every freelancer will run up against at some point in their careers: creativity is a limited resource.
No matter how hard you work, you're eventually going to find yourself stuck and struggling to re-engage your creativity. This may impact your ability to finish a project, slow things down and eventually even cost you work.
Fortunately, there are several ways to improve your creativity and keep your mind as sharp and agile as ever. If you find yourself stuck, bored or lacking direction, here are five tips to get the creative juices flowing again.
Manage the Monotony
Often your mind's worst enemy is monotony. This can come in many forms, whether it's a set of routines you've developed over time, doing the same work over and over, or simply looking at the same surroundings every day.
This is especially true of freelancers who often work from home in the same familiar setting day after day. One way to combat this is by changing your environment. If possible, consider working from a different location that you don't visit very often. Even moving to a different room within your home may help refresh your brain.
If you've fallen into a set routine that you follow every day, consider changing things around.
If your commitments allow, it may be helpful to work on a different schedule than the one you're used to.
- Take a lunch break at an unexpected time.
- Start your work much earlier or later than normal.
- Consider challenging yourself by setting a short deadline and focusing on completing as much work as possible in that time, and then follow it up with a longer break to help relax and decompress.
Get Some Exercise
It may not be the first thing you think about, but engaging in a bit of physical activity is one of the most reliable ways to increase brain function.
Scientific studies have shown that subjects perform better on creative tasks in the period after exercising, and people who exercise regularly tend to be more creative than their sedentary peers. Exercise is also a key component in improving your overall health, which has been shown to improve intellectual ability and creativity.
Even a short exercise period of 15 to 30 minutes is enough to begin seeing the benefits, but you'll need to keep it up in the long term for maximum payoff. Activities such as running, jogging, cycling and sports are all excellent choices.
Yoga is also one of the best activities to improve creativity, helping to improve cognitive function and clear your head to focus more fully on your work.
See: The Importance of Exercise for more information.
Engage With Puzzles
Puzzles have long been known to improve creativity and abstract thinking, yet they're often underutilized among creative professionals.
The Rubik's cube, serpent puzzle, Sudoku, jigsaw and crossword puzzles are all excellent choices which force you to think in abstract ways. Even if you don't have the time to fully solve a puzzle simply engaging with it and spending a few minutes approaching it from different directions is enough to give your brain a kickstart.
In addition to physical puzzles, many video games can serve to encourage abstract and creative thinking as well. In fact, a recent study involving nearly 500 middle-school students found that those who played video games more often performed better in creative tasks such as writing and drawing.
Finally, one of the most powerful tools for sparking creative, non-linear thinking is lateral thinking puzzles. Unlike most puzzles, lateral thinking puzzles often don't have a single well-defined solution. There may be any number of potential solutions, which encourages you to think in broad terms and find answers that may not be obvious on first glance.
Blast Through Creative Blocks
Though writer's block may be the most well-known variation, most creative people are familiar with some form of creative block.
Perhaps you feel as though you don't have the inspiration to write or paint or code or whatever your job may entail. Maybe your brain simply doesn't seem to want to cooperate with you. The good news is that these "blocks" have been erected by your own mind, and they can be overcome just as easily. The secret is to simply force your way through them.
Rather than waiting for the perfect work or holding out for some divine inspiration, simply push through and keep going.
Even if your work is flawed or below your standards, it's always better to create substandard work than to not work at all. Imperfect work can be corrected or expanded upon, and you'll find that inspiration comes much easier when you're always working.
Procrastination can easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy; the more you sit and wait for something to come to you, the more difficult it is for that to happen. By pushing on and working even when you're feeling blocked, you open yourself up for good things to happen.
Be More Mindful
The ability to produce creative work can be a fickle thing, and it's helpful to have an understanding of what helps or hinders you in that process.
If you're being productive and producing great work, what factors have helped you?
- Are you in a particularly good mood?
- Did you get a great night's sleep?
- Did you have a larger meal than usual for breakfast?
Similarly, what factors contribute to your down periods?
- Are you feeling frustrated by a particular project?
- Are you distracted by some personal issue?
By understanding the things that influence your productivity and the quality of your work, you can begin to actively control them.
Additionally, it's helpful to be mindful of what you're doing in the moment.
If you catch yourself becoming frustrated or distracted during your work, take a moment to stop and examine why it's happening and consider what actions you can take to address it.
- Is there a specific source of your distraction that you may be able to remove from your workspace?
- Can you take a brief break to compose yourself rather than continuing to get frustrated?
The better you understand yourself, the more you'll be able to put yourself in a working environment that encourages your creativity.
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Being a creative freelancer is no easy task, and the occasional struggles with a lack of creativity or motivation are just a part of the job.
However, that doesn't mean you can't do anything about it.
Follow these easy tips and you'll be well on your way to discovering new ways to increase brain power and enhance your creativity.
About the Author
This article was written by Yazi, an inspired writer who researches and writes content for several companies, including SiamMandalay.
She loves to read, write, and learn over a cup of coffee. Yazi believes ‘learning and sharing’ has no end to it and this is what inspires her to continue learning something new and contributing good content.