How to boost your creativity [15 ways]

7 min read

As an engineer turned writer, I know a thing or two about developing creativity. I pushed through the early years, believing that creative skills could be honed. I spent my free time reading others' works, meditating, and exploring ideas I didn’t previously believe in. 

Somehow, my efforts gradually show results. I wouldn’t say I’m the most creative person in the room. Yet, I feel I’ve evolved from the rigid, structured coder I used to be. 

If you’re doubting whether you can ever be creative, trust me, you can. What’s important is to stay motivated and keep your effort consistent. By practicing some of the tips I listed, it’s only a matter of time before you become a more creative person. 

How to increase creativity

There are numerous ways to become more creative. I share some that I find most effective. 

1. Make time and space for creativity

If you’re always rushing from one chore to another, it’s difficult to get creative. Rather, allocate time to focus on creative works. Besides making time, it’s also important that you have a comfortable space to think. 

Imagine trying to be creative in a small, cluttered room. It might work, but you’ll likely have trouble focusing. So, set aside at least 20 minutes and go to a quiet, calm space. 

To turn my room into a creative hub, I use Noizio. Noizio lets me surround myself with a relaxing ambiance and sound and set a timer to focus on creative works. It brings me out of my usual environment and helps me relax my mind. 

Noizio's relaxing nature sounds

2. Let your imagination run wild

One of the best ways to improve creativity is to learn from 6-year-olds. Yes, I’m serious. Children daydream and let their thoughts run wild. Unlike most adults, children are not limited by culture, education, and decades of mental programming. 

Don’t be afraid to dream or imagine the impossible. It’s in moments like these that we find the most creative ideas. And when you find them, remember to write those thoughts down. My favorite tool for that is Mental Walk, a journalling app that lets me pen my thoughts like a diary. It organizes my notes with a calendar so I can have a holistic view. After some time, I can revisit my earlier notes to see how my creative skills evolve. 

Mental Walk mood journal

3. Learn something new 

Most of us go through a fixed routine in our daily life. And that hardly inspires new, creative thoughts.

As a full-time writer focused on technology, AI, and IT (and ex-engineer), I think in a very structured manner. Breaking through my thinking habits requires taking bold moves by stepping out of my comfort zone. And for me, that means exploring topics that I'm not familiar with. Gardening, climate change, investments, intuitive eating and more.

However, as an average adult, I don't have much spare time. So, to learn new things, I use Headway – and that’s what I recommend to you if you want to know how to increase your creativity. It summarizes non-fiction books and delivers key points in 15 minutes. Headway also lets you set personal challenges, which keep you motivated throughout the learning journey. 

Headway app

4. Be resourceful

Most people resort to tried-and-tested solutions when solving a problem. Sure, they work, but doing so hardly involves any creative process. Instead, restrict your options and try to be more resourceful the next time you face similar problems. That way, you have no choice but to force yourself to be more creative.

Think about it — Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak co-founded Apple in a garage. They didn’t let their humble environment stop them from releasing the first Apple computer. Likewise, you can produce unconventional solutions when you take a different path. You’ll be surprised where resourcefulness can lead you. 

5. Meditate

Meditation generally calms the mind, but some help you expand your creative muscles. Make it a consistent practice to slow your thoughts and relax so your mind is free to explore ideas. It’s easier to meditate in quiet spaces or with soothing music playing in the background.

If you prefer the latter, use GetSound to create an ambiance for meditation. GetSound automatically generates a soothing soundscape based on the location, weather, and time you set. 

GetSound location

6. Get artistic

Van Gogh, Picasso, and many modern artists are known for their masterpieces. While few of us can paint like them, it doesn’t hurt to try. If anything, scientists have proven that painting and artwork lead to positive changes in the human brain that influence creativity. 

Moreover, it’s easy to start painting without buying sets of paintbrushes. I use Tayasui Sketches to draw and paint naturally on the Mac whenever I feel inspired. The app provides a wide range of acrylic brushes and color palettes to work with. To be honest, I'm not much of an artist, but in this case, it's the process that matters.

Tayasui Sketches art app

7. Use the “what if” technique

Sometimes, the mind needs a little bit of probing before it starts providing creative solutions. If you’re stuck with a problem, try to list possible alternatives, even if they don’t seem feasible. I call this approach the “what if” technique. When you consider possible solutions, you’ll naturally be guided toward methods that make them possible. Eventually, you’ll find an idea that works. 

Personal experience: When I practice the “what if” technique, I always take a break every 20 minutes, as a tired mind struggles to be creative. I set a timer with Time Out, so I don’t get trapped in an unproductive session. 

Time Out blocker

8. Have a positive mind

Often, we become our harshest critics when we can’t think innovatively to solve problems. Yet, succumbing to despair, frustration, and other negative thoughts doesn’t help our cause. Rather, acknowledging negative emotions and replacing them with positive ones can get us into the creative zone. Apps like Uplife give me a boost when I’m not at my best. With Uplife, you can access self-care programs like meditation, cognitive behavior therapy, and stress management on your iPhone. 

Uplife self-care plan

9. Observe other people

When we’re used to the ways we act, we don’t direct our thoughts towards other possibilities. So, I observe how other people think, act, and solve problems. Then, I apply what I learn to be more creative. 

For example, I struggled to build my presence on social media despite posting daily. So, I followed a few influential figures and observed what they posted. Then, I adopted their content strategy, which led to more followers and engagement.

10. Brainstorm ideas

Creativity requires considering various viewpoints. This is only possible when you bounce ideas with your peers through a brainstorming session. Allow participants to express their ideas without fear of judgment. Then, use MindNode to create a mind map so you can see how they relate to each other. Evaluate their pros and cons and work as a team to refine them. Decide on which solution works best for you and apply it.

a mind map in MindNode

11. Surround yourself with inspiration

People are inspired by their environments. And that includes colors, music, decors, and other elements they see, hear, and feel. If you want to tune up your creativity more effortlessly, try redesigning your workspace. It could be as simple as, 

  • Remove unnecessary items on your desk. It might escape you, but a cluttered desk can create stress and anxiety, which blocks creativity. 
  • Block distractions by playing focus music with Lofi Garden. The app lets you tune in to soothing music with a single click. There’s no need to navigate through a playlist or search for a particular piece of music. Just click on the icon in the menu bar, and it starts playing. 
  • Create palettes of colors that spark inspiration with Sip and use it across your software. Sip lets you choose colors you see on your screen and align them with formats your software uses.
  • Hang motivational quotes on the wall for daily inspiration. 

Follow the same approach in other aspects of your life and watch your creativity soar. 

12. Workout

A creative mind resides in a healthy body. In addition to all the mental workouts I suggested, it’s equally important to hit the gym. By increasing your physical stamina, you also build up mental endurance for creative thinking, according to a study. Either that or go for a brisk walk. Simply taking time off for physical activities can reinvigorate your creative skills. 

13. Travel abroad

Exploring different cultures can also boost creativity. Schedule vacations and travel to places you’ve never visited before. Learn how different people go through their everyday lives and seek inspiration from diversity. Some countries boast historical architecture and attractions that showcase creative efforts from the past. While marveling at the sights, I capture the moments on camera and edit them later with Luminar Neo. I can turn those photos into wallpaper on Mac, or print them out to keep me inspired in physical spaces.  

Luminar Neo

14. Overcome self-doubt

It’s alright to feel doubtful but don’t let that stop you from putting your work out there. When creativity is involved, we’re all a work in progress. Accepting feedback with an open mind can help you improve your skills. 

15. Reward yourself

What gets rewarded gets repeated. The same goes for creative effort. If you’ve overcome a major hurdle with unconventional thinking, treat yourself to something enjoyable. That way, you train yourself to stay motivated the next time you call on your creative skills again. 

[And I will reward myself for this article with caramel ice cream.]

How to improve creativity (Solved) 

Creativity is a learnable skill, and science has proven that. It helps you solve complex problems, innovate products, grow your career, and more. You can become more creative just by consistently practicing some of the steps we suggested. 

Of course, it helps to support your effort with Headway, Mental Walk, MindNode and other apps from Setapp. These apps encourage creative thinking by creating an environment where you can think, learn, and imagine more effortlessly. 

The good news is, you can try all apps for free for 7 days on Setapp. Setapp is a subscription that brings you dozens of apps supporting creative efforts.  

Remember, nothing can stop you if you want to be creative. 

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