If one of your 2017 resolutions happens to be “be more creative,” then you’ve come to the right place. I’ve jotted down five ways you can start boosting your creativity immediately, based on my own experiences, as well as what’s been proven psychologically to give you the most bang for your proverbial buck.

Some articles on creativity tend to include suggestions like “travel to a foreign country” or “buy this expensive software.” However, in the spirit of realistic goal setting, I’ve only included tips that you can dive into with minimal forethought—and maximum results.

1. Work in a different space

Constantly sitting at your desk (or your favorite couch) can actually drain your creative powers. A new space lets more creative juices flow. It doesn’t even have to be a completely unfamiliar one. Try visiting a local coffee shop while you’re jotting down ideas, or even duck into one of the empty conference rooms at your building for a few hours. You’ll find just being in surroundings that aren’t your “norm” can help.

2. Embrace the powers of mood music

There’s been a lot of significant studies done about the connection between music and creativity. Researchers particularly praise the powers of classical music, but even if you don’t break out your Mozart collection, you’ll see benefits. As a writer, I’ve found music invaluable in helping me convey a certain mood. Listening to upbeat music helps me produce energetic, entertaining writing, while something more somber is great for long and thoughtful research pieces.

3. Talk to people outside the “problem”

What experts have coined “psychological distance” from a problem can actually help you think about an issue less concretely, and more creatively. You may be tempted not to talk about a work issue with a friend or significant other because they are “not involved” or the issue is “too complicated for them to understand.” However, those are precisely the reasons they can give you a fresh perspective. Personally, I love bouncing marketing ideas off my non-marketing friends. Some of their ideas are much too off-the-wall to implement, but they always get me thinking in more creative ways.

4. Take a walk

There’s a reason why so many Silicon Valley CEOs love taking walks. In 2014, Stanford researchers found that people’s creative output increased by nearly 60 percent while they were walking. Even better news for those who love simplicity: you don’t need to go outside. Just walking around your home or office produces the same increases. And, according to the study, the benefits continue after you sit down. Once you’ve taken your walk, you’ll notice the boost lingers even once you’re back at your desk.

5. Ask Great, Broad Questions

Of course, eventually you’ll have to get down to the nitty-gritty to implement any solution. However, asking broader questions promotes broader possibilities to answer. For myself, sometimes I like to think, “What does the ideal product for this customer look like?” before I think “How can we combine x amount of features into one product, in x amount of time?”
Getting more creative doesn’t need to be a huge production. It can start with small, simple changes that make a big difference. Is there any tip that I missed that you find invaluable? What are you planning to do this new year to be your creative best?


Written by Emily Bell.