We’ve all been through a creative rut before. You know – picking from the same small group of fonts/colors/textures for most of your projects. Or worse, not having any ideas at all. So to help us start this New Year right, here are some of my favorite ways to boost creativity!
1. Get up and Move!
If you typically work sitting at the same desk, coffee shop, or office – mix it up. It’s hard to get inspired staring at the same people and objects day after day. Try working outside of your personal norm. Switch desks with someone, take a field trip to a museum with pencil and paper, shut your phone off for a whole hour, or anything else that will help you break out of the regular, predictable work environment. If this works for you, consider making it a monthly or bi-weekly habit to continually encourage your creativity.
2. Start an Idea Box
Start collecting anything and everything that inspires you and start putting it in some sort of storage box. I suggest one that is opaque so it can have that magic reveal moment every time you open it. Depending on your personality, you could even decorate the box and keep it somewhere you can see while working. Remember when you were a child and kept a small collection of things you loved? At least I had one – mine was filled with neat shaped rocks, my favorite candies, colorful leaves, and sometimes a bug.
So, print out your favorite fonts, jewelry, or patterns from online, but also try to include things like fabric, consumer packaging tags, menus, and trinkets. Keep adding things to this box and periodically remove items that either no longer interest you or have already inspired a few ideas. When you feel like you’ve hit a wall, pull out this box and sift through all the goodies.
3. Look at Other Industries
It’s easy to feel like you are working in a bubble when you are in a specific industry, such as event planning. You meet a lot of the same people and receive similar requests from different clients. Break out of the same old, same old by taking some time to look at what other industries are doing with things like type, color, texture, organization, and interactivity. Some of my favorite industries to draw from include: beer, wine, craft, board game, theater, publishing (book and magazine), music, candy, coffee, fashion, and interior design.
Try to think about why these different industries made the choices they did and how you could learn from them. And similar to idea booster #5, go to places you can actually see items from this industry in person to better understand their context. Take pictures, buy a few things and maybe even consider putting some of what you find in your “Idea Box” from above.
4. Play a Creative Game (or even one that’s just plain fun)
It’s really easy to get caught up in a project and go on autopilot, doing the same thing you have always done in the past, especially in stressful situations. If you can spare 30 minutes, play a quick game with your team. It will remind everyone that you are all working toward a common goal and being playful could inspire a great new idea!
There is a Surrealist drawing activity that takes only minutes and usually ends up with a great laugh. People take turns drawing on a section of paper and then folding it up so that only a tiny bit of the sketch shows, allowing the next person to connect his or her drawing to it, but still hiding the exact subject. Telestrations is also a great game – it’s a visual version of the Telephone Game and can be played with just some scraps of paper. Even just having a book of Mad Libs or Yamodo on hand can serve as a quick break from your computer and/or task. If these do not work for your group, don’t give up – find a game that works for you! It’s guaranteed to break up the monotony and creates a refreshed, collaborative working environment.
5. Forced Fit Brainstorm Method
The creative thinker Edward DeBono developed many frameworks that encouraged people to challenge their typical thinking process. My favorite method is called Forced Fit. It involves combining random objects, topics, or attributes that would not normally fit together to create something that could work. For example, a game without any sound – then think about the characteristics of games and why/how people use them. How can these characteristics work without talking or making noise?
This is one of my favorite methods of brainstorming; it may seem overwhelming at first – but push through it! Consider having someone facilitate the session so that everyone can benefit from some cheerleading and encouragement. Start by brainstorming two lists; one all about events (weddings/fundraisers/promotional events or something related to your field), and the other list should be characteristics or aspects contrary to the first part (boring, dirty, silent, etc.). Half the fun of this is coming up with some of the contradictory ideas to use, but here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Silent Party
- Event without Electricity
- Dinner without Tables
- Moneyless Fundraiser
- Grand Opening without Invitations
I hope this list helps inspire you and if you use any of these ideas, I’d love to hear how they worked and what you came up with!