Cutting-Edge Leadership

The best in current leadership research and theory, from cultivating charisma to transforming your organization

5 Surprising Techniques to Increase Your Creativity

How can you become more creative at work? Strategies to improve creativity.

Writers, advertising executives, entrepreneurs, and many other occupations require creativity in order to succeed. Trying to increase creativity by sitting at a desk or staring out the office window often doesn’t work. What strategies will improve your creativity?

Walking. A recent study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition (April 2014) found that people became more creative while walking rather than sitting down. In fact, their creativity in coming up with additional uses for everyday articles (e.g., a button) nearly doubled when walking. It was unclear if the boost in creativity was due to the changing scenery or to the physical activity, but I’ve noticed that taking a walk often helps writer’s block.

Noise. Surprisingly, a little bit of noise can boost creativity. Research has shown that the right amount of ambient noise – background noise such as the sound of traffic or the ocean – can lead to greater creativity. Perhaps that is why so many people like to work in coffee shops. In fact, you can actually purchase the sounds of a coffee shop online, to try to capture that creative surge that people sometimes get at Starbucks. I found that my best creative thinking comes in the shower – likely due to the ambient noise.

Music. Music seems to increase creativity, especially in tasks that involve Math and Science. This effect, according to the researchers, may have something to do with the fact that music involves mathematical computations.

Time. Deadlines stifle creativity, according to the research of psychologist Teresa Amabile and her colleagues. Although many managers believe that creativity comes with the pressure of an impending deadline, the research simply doesn’t support this. So, allowing your creative thinkers enough time to do their work is a positive strategy.

A Good Attitude About the Work You Are Doing. Finally, being engaged and happy in your job will lead to more creative ideas about how to perform it. With job engagement comes motivation to perform your job, and to improve your performance and the quality of your work. To be creative you need to care.

 

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http://twitter.com/#!/ronriggio

 

Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D., is the Henry R. Kravis Professor of Leadership and Organizational Psychology at Claremont McKenna College.

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